3 Runs, 3 incorrect distances

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by jaconrad15, Apr 27, 2015.

  1. jaconrad15 macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2012
    So over the last 3 days, I've run 15 miles using the Workout app on the :apple:watch. These are routes I run regularly with my Garmin watch, Strava on the iPhone. They all produce 5 miles consitently. The watch, however:

    Run #1 (Road): Garmin 5.19 miles, Apple Watch 5.01 miles
    Run #2 (Road): Garmin 5.18 miles, Apple Watch 5.01 miles
    Run #3 (Trail): Garmin 5.2 miles, Apple Watch 4.62 miles

    I've had my iPhone 6 with me for all 3 runs (so the watch should be using the GPS) with no other running apps in use on the phone.

    I've read some people's Apple watches are spot on, some are off like mine.

    Just like to get ideas/feedback from all my fellow :apple:watch runners out there!
  2. DouginMN macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2013

    What Garmin model do you have? I have the 610, Fenix3 and Edge 810. The 610 is consistently measuring long compared to the Fenix3 and 810. Recently I tested the 610, F3, Edge 810 and Strava on iPhone, on a 20 mile ride, and the F3, 810 and Strava were within .03 miles. The 610 measured .4 miles longer.
  3. jaconrad15 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Using the Forerunner 405 (old school!)

    It seems to be quite accurate when comparing it to running apps on the iPhone. But for some reason the workout app on the Apple Watch is inconsistent thus far. Maybe it's still "calibrating".
  4. Alith macrumors 6502

    Feb 9, 2008
    London, UK.
    Have you tried comparing the Garmin to other running apps that use GPS? Presumably they all use the same GPS/Wifi as each other, as well as the watch?

    For the last year I've been running with Garmin 620 and Nike+ Running app and they are not far off but never the same.
  5. jaconrad15 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2012
    I've actually been using Strava on the iPhone for the past few months and the distances match up pretty close with my Forerunner. Not sure why the Watch is underestimating distance.
  6. Alith macrumors 6502

    Feb 9, 2008
    London, UK.
    You've inspired me now! I will run with my Garmin and watch Activity tomorrow and compare the two.
  7. jaconrad15 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Cool, please report back! :)
  8. jabingla2810 macrumors 68020

    Oct 15, 2008
    I may be wrong but I don't think the default Apple apps use GPS, so you may have to run a 3rd party running app on the phone that has been updated to support the watch to get more accurate distances.

    Without GPS, the Apple watch is only guessing your distance.

    As I say, I might be wrong.

    Edit: From the Apple website:

    "GPS. Apple Watch uses the GPS in your iPhone to help measure the distance you travel during the day or during workouts that can’t be measured in steps, such as cycling."

    Doesn't really clear it up totally, but seems to indicate it will use steps to calculate distance if it can.
  9. neacail macrumors newbie

    Apr 27, 2015
    Calgary, AB, Canada

    Could this be an issue with elevation changes? The watch distances could be 2D, while the Garmin distances might be 3D. Not accounting for changes in elevation can result in some very significant differences in distances. What I think is very telling is that the "Trail" distance is so far out, as I suspect the 3D distance could be quite a bit longer than the 2D.

    As a cartographic and GIS specialist, I encounter these sorts of issues all of the time.

    I'll be testing my watch against my Garmin Edge 500 cycling computer tomorrow. I always use elevation corrected distances on my Garmin devices, but I'll see if I can check my data tomorrow with elevation correction on and off.
  10. LuvAussies macrumors 6502


    Jul 31, 2003
    I use RunKeeper and it's been pretty darn accurate for the most part!
    I don't have my Apple Watch yet. I'm still stuck with a Pebble. <<sigh>>
  11. JoEw macrumors 68000


    Nov 29, 2009
    This is really disappointing if that is the case, I was under the idea that the Watch would use the GPS of your iPhone if it could and use that to calibrate your stride, so eventually you could run without it.

    Looks like they took the easy way out, as programming an algorithm to learn is much harder than just using the pacer in Watch by default...

    Surely hope this gets clarified.
  12. jabingla2810 macrumors 68020

    Oct 15, 2008
    Unfortunately, I can't seem to find a definite answer anywhere, very strange!
  13. Jonmurgie macrumors member

    Nov 3, 2007
    Cheltenham, UK
    I did a measured 5k on Saturday and only used the workout app (had my iPhone with me but forgot to launch another running app!) and was surprised to see it log a distance of 5.5k.
  14. AbsoluteMustard macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2015
    Boston, USA
    I have tried every running app so far and Runtastic is the only one that works for me, and I don't like that. Runtastic is annoying because it shows average pace not current pace. I would much rather have current pace, average is useless to me.

    Runkeeper and Strava are difficult to get the GPS going on my phone. I will start to run with both, and everything will be working but the distance stays at 0.0



    Also I love my Forerunner 305! Still going strong after 4 years.

    I need a watch that shows at least 3 items on one screen: Running time, Distance, and current pace.

    If there was an app that did that I would pay a mint for it
  15. chanerz macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2010
    It's called a GPS error rate. 1-2% is normal.
  16. John6Plus macrumors 6502


    Sep 19, 2014
    Holland, MI
    This is odd, from the bottom of that page:

    "Calibration data is stored locally on Apple Watch, and isn't backed up to your iPhone. Therefore, your calibration data will be lost if you unpair your Apple Watch from your iPhone."

    That surprises me, and I hope they change that. It makes no sense that they wouldn't back up that data.
  17. Alith macrumors 6502

    Feb 9, 2008
    London, UK.
    Change the settings for the activity app in your phone's Apple Watch app. You can change the goal to metrics. Then in the activity app on your watch the default will be time of day, distance and a variable metric that you can change by swiping. If you tap the time of day it cycles between different metrics.

    So tap time of day until it shows time elapsed and swipe the lower metric until it shows pace. Then you will have time, distance and pace on the watch face. You can just swipe for heart rate if you need to check that.

    Sounds complicated but it remembers your settings between runs so you only need to do it once. Watch the Guided Tour on the apple website.
  18. gsmornot macrumors 68030


    Sep 29, 2014
    Not sure if it helps but my cycling distance matched my Garmin 500 distance today. That was good news.

    Trouble is though, the phone still thinks I'm climbing stairs when I ride. It detects the elevation change as stairs and does not account for the fact that at the same time I am doing a cycling workout. Its no big deal, I just turn that off but its annoying that it does it.

    Back to running....
  19. AbsoluteMustard macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2015
    Boston, USA

    Took me a bit to go through those steps, but fantastic, thanks!
  20. Andy in Embsay macrumors member

    Apr 20, 2015
    Just done a known 4m run with a Garmin on one wrist (Vivoactive) and AW on the other with my iPhone in a belt. No other app running on the iPhone.

    Garmin says 4.04m, AW says 3.91m - that's too much of a variance (although interestingly it was spot on versus my Edge for 15 miles on the bike yesterday). I didn't buy the AW as a sports watch, I'll carry on using my Fenix 3 or Vivoactive for running and my Edge for biking - I'll have the AW if I find myself wanting to run or bike if I don't have a garmin with me.

    This is the sort of thing they can fix with software updates though - hopefully they will.

    Interestingly it didn't give me a HR measurement at all tonight either - correction - yes it did, it's now appeared! It's only 3bpm different to my Mio/Garmin measurement.
  21. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    Only the 6/6 plus will account for elevation changes
  22. tivoboy, Apr 27, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015

    tivoboy macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2005
    so, it's a BIT off

    So, after reading this thread I did some tests..

    with FOUR devices,
    TWO apples watch
    1 samsung galaxy note 4 with GPS
    1 apple iphone 6, using the motion X GPS app (great app, one of my favorites)

    Apple Watch 1 38mm Sport, been with us for three days now, GF has already worn in on three walks outdoors, ONE with the phone, two without. Apparently there is SOME form of calibration that the phone/watch combo CAN do with the phone present and the activity app running for 20 minutes.

    Apple Watch 2 42MM Sport, arrive today, setup today, first walk outside. Took the iphone 6 with it so it could leverage the GPS possibly and used the Activity Walking app to track the walk.

    Here are the distances tracked

    Apple Watch 1 (three day old watch) 2.8 miles
    Samsung Phone with GPS 2.8 miles
    Iphone with Motion X GPS 2.68 miles
    Apple Watch 2 (todays watch) 2.44 miles...this is about 12% off from the others

    At times, it seemed it was going to be about 7% off, but the longer I went, the worse it got.

    Now, I'm 6'5", so i'm already 3 standard deviations from the mean, the watch just MAY not be able to handle that.

    OR, it takes a bit longer to calibrate?
  23. Trent0341 macrumors 6502

    Jun 3, 2007
    Ran 2 miles today with it. It was .025 off per mile (.025, not .25) from the distance I measured with my car. It was almost exactly the same as tracked on my iPhone 6 using nike plus. So in my experience the watch I have has been very accurate (I have not run with just the watch by itself though. that would be a different story I assume).
  24. HelloMikee macrumors 6502a


    Jun 16, 2009
    San Diego
    Kind of a tangent but which is better to use? Apple watch running app or Nike App? I have over 2k miles on my Nike+ app. Or are we able to combine the two?

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