Preliminary watchOS 5 Thoughts

I’m pretty excited about the watchOS 5 improvements. These are some random incoherent thoughts.

The Siri Face might actually get useful to me now with Shortcuts and 3rd party app integration. I look forward to trying it out. The Shortcuts on the watch and iOS appear to be based on Workflow.app’s technology. They look to me like the best new Siri feature in years. During the demo for the iOS variant, one of the original Workflow developers was indicated as being involved. I do hope this doesn’t spell doom for the original Workflow app. I’m certain Shortcuts will only work for Apple blessed apps and services. The original workflow app can use virtually anything on your device with a url scheme, share sheet extension or clipboard access.

Notification grouping will be really helpful. It really kind of blows when you first put a watch on, unlock it, then get bombarded by a bunch of notifications. This should really help to triage them. It also looks like the notifications will be even more interactive than ever before.

There are some nice evolutionary additions fitness & workout tracking. I can think of several times the auto detection start and stop workout notifications would’ve been great. Weekly Activity competition could be fun. I’m glad they are using ring percentages for the points instead of just calories, although there is still the question of fairness competing with someone with a drastically different goal. Adding more specialized workout types is always a plus. There are also some really cool new features for runners, like cadence and rolling mile pace. Its too bad I’m not one of them.

The Podcast app is coming. I’m not very interested in that, but hope the APIs it uses are open to 3rd party developers. I did see there is a background audio API and I saw one called Audio Control Something on the slide too. These should mean volume control in 3rd party apps and hopefully Marco Arment can finally make a great standalone watch app for Overcast. If so, it should also open the door for services like Audible to let you have audio books on there as well.

Last and most certainly least, Walkie Talkie? Really? Does anyone really want this? I certainly don’t anticipate using it.

I can’t wait for the Platform State of the Union later today and the sessions later this week when we should get more clear indicators of how much of these new features and API are available to 3rd party devs and what kind of new possibilities we can expect from Apple’s most personal device.

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