Fitness Tracking Ability of the Apple Watch

To say that the Apple Watch has made a big splash in the world of mobile devices is an understatement. The Apple Watch is clear proof that the smartwatch is here to stay and it is the beginning of a more mainstream adaptation of advanced wearable technology. Like most modern connected watches, the Apple watch offers a great platform for fitness tracking – going far beyond step and distance tracking.

The Apple Watch can help you review your physical activity over the course of a day at the very least. The native health and fitness app provides information on your total daily step count, the amount of time you have been active throughout the day, and the duration you have stood versus remained seated. The native health and fitness app is a fantastic piece of software, but as you would expect from a smartwatch, the true value that Apple provides is the ability to download apps from the App Store (including the Nike+ Running app, Strava, Runtastic, and others).

Native Health and Fitness

The native Activity app pre-installed on the Apple Watch provides a clean, reliable and useful fitness tracking interface. The main screen shows a three-ring system that provides insight on how close your calorie, activity, and standing goals are for the day. Your calories burned and activity time goals can be preset in the Activity app to fit your needs. The standing meter will alert you to stand for at least a minute for 12 different hours throughout the day. The standing feature may not seem necessary for someone who is generally active throughout the day, but it is a much known issue that the obesity rate in America is increasing. Along with it come injuries that can be caused by lack of movement.

The history display in the Activity app shows your activity trend in the past by day, week or month.

The Workout app is another native app to the Apple Watch that provides much more detail about your specific workout rather than your general activity. The app gathers real-time data on your elapsed time, distance, calories burned, pace, and speed. This is possible with the built in tracking components such as the heart rate sensor, the GPS, and the accelerometer. As expected with more advanced fitness wearables, the Apple Watch is capable of tracking popular activities such as running, the elliptical, and cycling. You will enjoy progress updates throughout your workout as well as a final summary at the conclusion.

Internal Technology

The Apple Watch comes packed with technology and software always ready and looking for activity. Onboard, the Apple Watch includes a heart rate sensor (on the wrist) and an accelerometer. In order to conserve battery life and provide more accurate data collection for the activity, the Apple Watch intelligently turns on the appropriate sensors. When connected to an iPhone, the Apple Watch will use the phone's gps sensor to provide more accurate data.

Using these sensors along with the connected iPhone 6, the Apple Watch can be calibrated for more accurate results. Following a test designed and executed by Cnet, many top rated fitness trackers and smartwatches were compared to determine the accuracy of the step counter. Among both categories, the non-calibrated Apple Watch placed towards the bottom of the list, whereas the calibrated Watch placed at the top. Therefore, based on this test, indoor tracking of steps (not using the GPS) is most accurate for predicting distances on the Apple Watch compared with the Samsung Gear S and the Garmin Vivosmart. Here is the link to the test: http://www.cnet.com/news/smartwatch-step-counter-and-distance-tracker-accuracy/

Available Fitness Apps

The most appealing part of the Apple Watch and what separates it from fitness trackers and other smartwatches is the ability to connect with the extensive App Store. Although this is the case, while exercising it is set apart from other watches due to the fact that many apps require it to be connected to your phone at all times.

1. Nike+ RunningThe Nike+ Running app offers the ability to continue using your go-to fitness hub while using your Apple Watch. The app allows you to connect and sync your activity to your Nike + phone app while running and offers the ability to use Bluetooth headphones to listen to your music wirelessly during a run.

2. Strava – Like the Nike+ app, the Strava app records everything you have come to expect from the Strava phone app, including elevation gain, distance traveled, average speed and more. Keep up with the segments you have run and even continue receiving trophies for your activity.

3. Runtastic – With your iPhone in your possession on your run, the Runtastic app allows you to keep track of your speed, distance, duration, pace, and more on your wrist. 

The main point here is that in order to use many of these apps you need to bring your iPhone along with you on your run.

Connecting to Your Phone

As many have complained, the Apple Watch is only compatible with the newest versions of the iPhone, iPad and iPod. The Apple Watch comes at a time where advanced wearables are becoming more widespread. Apple entering into the smartwatch market provides a much more mainstream view on technical wearables for the general consumer. The iPhone plays a large role in the use of wearables such as the Apple Watch due to its much higher level of functionality. Future devices may rely on the iPhone to act as a primary hub for mobile computation, opening a world of possibilities for smartwatches, virtual reality devices, and other advanced mobile devices.