Apple Watch Thoughts
Is the Apple Watch the Ultimate Fitness Tracker for Cyclists?
This is the title of an article I came across as I was searching for others’ experiences with the Apple Watch. The article was well written and certainly touched on many of the desires and issues I looked for and experienced with the device. All in all the conclusion of that article though was VERY far off from my own experiences and conclusion. The statements made were
So while the Apple Watch is probably not the ultimate fitness tracker for all cyclists (namely those who are serious about using it as a tool to track metrics, compare performance on particular segments and improve their overall riding), it’s definitely the ultimate fitness tracker for me
I appreciate the candor of the author – i.e. for him the Watch is acceptable… Well that was not my experience and conclusion. I had the following pet peeves which though were followed by giving kudos to Apple for handling my dissatisfaction with great appreciation for the customer (me)
I thought the watch needed to:
- Do much better job in gathering useful information / statistics about the exercises being tracked – I was really surprised that the apps on the watch were SO rudimentary…
- The measurements that were taken were / are OFF by too great of a margin, I could have been OK with 10-15% error / variation of the readings. The issue is that in my case those readings were off by 50+%
- Have more applications for the amateur sports person – I was very surprised at the weak set available….May be soon enough there will be more. I hope so
Net-net, I like the idea, I was disappointed in the execution and product ultimately made available to us, the consumers
Earlier today I finally decided to resolve my situation with the Apple Watch. Both yesterday and today were beautiful sunny days in Austin, Texas, with yesterday being surprisingly cool (vs. the weather forecast that called for 90-degree F).
Needless to say, the bikes were out (after fixing a flat I had not noticed on my way back from the trails three weeks ago) and my family and I hit the green belts on Barton Creek….a nice place to bike
We spent about 1 hour and 20 minutes riding – on both Saturday and Sunday – although Sunday was a more difficult day – due to the significantly higher temperatures.
Now, back to the Apple Watch situation – I had posted about my issues with the Watch in previous articles. I like the Watch! The idea is great and the industrial design / physical implementation is also impeccable. Problem (at least per my experience) is the software. I continue to find issues with how the watch measures exercise etc. A week ago I upgraded to version 2 of the Apple Watch OS with the hope things will improve. Since then I have been testing the exercise applications for elliptical trainer and for biking and in all cases the results are less than stellar – the Apple Watch continues to give incorrect readings from the sessions
Finally, today I went to one of the local Apple Stores and had a very positive experience with the Apple Store Staff. Overall, the are usually very attentive and knowledgeable. This time they went well above that. I discussed the situation with the store manager – admittedly I had spoken with him about a month ago about the issues and was very offered a great service – I was able to return the watch and get a refund. This is well beyond my expectations – Thank you Apple! and Apple Store Staff!
As I stated earlier – I really like the idea Apple was targeting with the Watch and was very disappointed to have to return it but it did not work. I will look forward to the next version – with the hope that things will be improved etc. Till then – back to my bike and iPhone applications… Just as a reminder – in my opinion Runtastic Mountain Bike Pro is a good one, and so is Strava (as many bikers will attest). I have not been able to use well Bike+ for some reason its user interface and features are not quite as well done as the other apps. But I like to experiment – will continue testing them.
If you have questions about iPhone Apps for Biking – do not hesitate – let me know…will give you my experience and view point.
Apple Watch – yes, it is one of the gizmos Apple brought to market…So we, the trusting consumers thought “well, lets give it a shot – after all it is coming from the company that makes so many great products…”
Well, as you can tell from my several postings so far, it has been less of an impressive gadget – actually borderline a disappointment!
Why do I say that? Well, here I go with my latest gripes:
- Siri is not there – whaaaat? Well, Siri is not waking up when I make the famous call “Hey Siri…” no one answers….
- I am supposed to be able to answer SMS with voice and convert to text or send as a voice response. 8 out of 10 tries DO NOT WORK! Just had that experience 5 minutes ago…
- The exercise calorie measurements – as I reported in the earlier posting, they are just wrong. I am biking for 1+ hour and the watch measures 600-700 calories (mountain biking) but close to 200 are shown as “at rest calories”…. Now, how that can be? The watch / its software knows I am exercising – I specified manually that I am on the bike….
At any rate, these are simple BUT very irritating and just plain not thought-through things…Poor software….Period!
Well I have been using my Apple Watch since early June. I was very eager to get the watch – why, you would say..? Because it promised some nifty ways to encourage you to exercise and measure your achievements.
so I started the quest – run, bicycle, lift weights, run on the Elyptical trainer…and in the process I also used secondary instruments to measure the time, distance, calories spent.
I used apps on my iPhone which I mount on my mountain bike. In the process I have used many different apps – you can find the postings on those on this blog. Also used the computer part of the Elyptical trainer….
the results have been rather unsatisfactory – with respect to the Apple Watch…not a good sight.
Here are the reasons for my dissatisfaction:
- measured mountain bike session – well the watch app does not discern mountain bike from road bike…. The result, completely different results – 1 hour on the mountain bike is 800+ calories but according to the Apple Watch 500-600….
- running on the Elyptical trainer results in a closer measurements but still disconnected
- i did weights – for about 5 minutes of lifting – the Apple watch registered 1 calories spent…! Really !?!?
i believe you get my drift… Very surprising that 3rd parties have developed apps for iPhone which are pretty accurate, while Apple’s own for the Watch are not that great…!
I hear new software is coming for the Watch – hope these updates will bring positive changes …!
Over the last month or so I have been paying attention to the various Web sites and postings related to the recently release Apple Watch. It is interesting to observe, read and listen to the incredible level of noise out there – especially the large number of very loud voices thrashing the product.
I am surprised to notice that even the biking community – which I thought has traditionally been a whole lot more progressive and receptive of new ideas and technologies – is extremely polarized on the topic of the usefulness of the Apple Watch. The opinions range from extremely negative to very positive….which really highlights several things:
- Too many people – even those considering themselves progressive and innovative really resist change! How else but by experimenting with new products will any new technology, product concept or idea, will survive and develop….?
- For those of you who do not agree with the bullet above – think of the Apple Newton… It was 1992 (approximately) when the product came out and failed shortly after that. Yes, it failed badly – but 10 years later the Palm Pilot was all the rage, and another 10- years later various smart connected devices rule the product space and have caused the demise of the PC industry…..
- Back to the Apple Watch – if you are on your bike and exploring a new area of town or you are in a new place all together, turn on the Apple iPhone maps on and your Watch becomes a VERY handy navigation device – you have to experience to believe what I am saying – the Watch provides very intuitive navigation hints and turn by turn directions. It is one of the best use cases so far !!! (in my opinion)
In a few words – we have to fail often in order to succeed !!!
Apple Watch – why am I writing about it on a biking blog? Well, very simple – it is a nifty gadget that actually, I believe, can be a useful addition to the gear for your bike rides.
Why? OK, not a bad and a very valid question. What are the key features of this watch that can make it useful to the biking community…?
So let’s go ahead and review how the Apple Watch behaved and performed on a mixed road and mountain bike tracks:
- First of all – the watch is highly intuitive – I promise you, you will not need to mess with its setup or do much to get it going – just put it on your wrist (once it is all charged up and paired with your phone)
- With regards to biking, it comes preconfigured with the “Workout” application – native to the package of OS and actually an easy to use application.
- There are only some minor issues with the watch and the “Workout” application
- It does not have the ability to distinguish between road and mountain bike
- When I read the calories – both in the middle of a hour long ride and towards the end – the count was about 1/2 of that of the application running on my iPhone – it looked like the Workout application is calibrated for a road ride – with a road bike.
- There was no way to show more than one screen to the front face of the watch – so in order for you to see calories, time, distance – you had to move between screens manually – no way to see an aggregate screen of information
I do not recommend you move between screens while you bike especially if you are on the single track…you will most likely have trouble doing both. Just let the watch do its tracking and look at the summary stats at the end of your ride or if you stop for a short break.
In summary, the application is not bad – it allows you to ride with the watch and get basic stats and as long as your ride is not going overboard time wise – i.e. you stay within a reasonable couple of hours on your bike, your watch battery will be good as well…
Overall, I would recommend the Apple Watch – and not only because I have one 🙂 but because I see the useful side of it – and guess what !!! This Fall new OS is coming with some additional features. Apple has started hinting about those on their Web site…