Apple announces new watch features. Here’s what runners need to know

The Apple Watch Series 3 is a solid option for any runner. For one, it's not just a running watch so you'll enjoy wearing it on and off the run. But you can also track everything from your mileage to your heart rate to your pace, on top of being able to send and receive calls and texts and use all of your favorite apps. And now, it's about to get even better. Today, Apple previewed watchOS 5, and it’s got even more exciting features inspired by and made for runners.

Related: Apple watch series 2 - a running review

Among its newest features, watchOS 5 includes Activity Competitions, in which you can challenge your friends to beat your activity level for a week. Activity sharing is a great way to be pushed and motivated by friends, and this feature will allow you to not only share your activity, but also engage in friendly competition with others. There’s even unique “smack talk” built into the feature to help you get into the competitive spirit.

Another new feature that will have a useful application for runners is the new built-in Walkie Talkie feature. Yep, that's right—a walkie talkie on your wrist. You simply add your closest friends and family to your list, launch the app, and then push through to connect with them directly. The watch will utilise whatever signal is available—cellular, known WiFi network, or the cellular from your phone (with Series 2) to connect. Running races were a big inspiration for this one. If you’re racing and looking for your friends and family at a crowded event, the Walkie Talkie will be an easy way to get in touch or provide location updates, without having to fuss with a call or a text.

And when it comes to training, runners will love the three new running-specific features: Cadence, Pace Alert, and Rolling Mile Pace. Looking to please users who were requesting more pro features, Apple added Cadence as another key measurement. And with Pace Alert, you can customise your goal pace, and the watch will give you a haptic or a sound if you drift above or below that pace mid-run so you don’t have to keep looking down at your watch.

Speaking of pace, Apple also introduced a brand new metric called “Rolling Mile Pace.” Rolling Mile Pace will give you your current mile pace wherever you are at in your run. For example, if you are at 4.65 miles in 5-mile run, your Rolling Mile Pace is measured from 3.65 miles. It’s like getting your mile splits but at any point in your run.

For those who are a little more forgetful, the new OS now offers automatic workout detections. If you begin a workout and forget to start it, the watch will wait a few minutes and then nudge you to ask if you are running. If you answer yes, it will launch the activity and give you credit from when you actually started the run as it was tracking in the background. The same goes for if you finish your workout and forget to stop it. This will be available for the eight most popular activities including Indoor and Outdoor Runs.

And if you're one of the many runners who love listening to podcasts during their runs, you’re in luck. Apple has now brought the Podcast app directly to the Watch and made it compatible with Siri. Now with a Series 3 Watch and a set of wireless headphone, you can leave your phone at home and enjoy your favorite podcasts.

On top of all of that, Apple didn't overlook cross-training days. It added two new workouts to the Activity app: Yoga, which uses a new heart rate–based algorithm, and Hiking, which uses a new algorithm that incorporates the altimeter for elevation gain for the most accurate measurements during those activities.

The new watchOS 5 and the features detailed here will be available around September time as a free update for Apple Watch Series 1 and later and requires iPhone 5s or later on iOS 12.

Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS and Cellular is available now starting at £329

A version of this article appeared on Runnersworld.com