Apple Watch tracking steps

macman4789

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 12, 2007
240
2
Hi,

I’m aware that Apple Watch tracks steps through the arm movements/swings when walking. However I was wondering what happens if I’m pushing a pram or carrying my son? Obviously my arms won’t be replicating that movement, does it still count steps as it detects the sort of bobbing up and down movement if I am holding something? The same would be if I’m walking but I’m holding my phone sending a text message or something. Does it still detect steps?

Thanks
 

sean000

macrumors 68000
Jul 16, 2015
1,603
2,020
Bellingham, WA
Hi,

I’m aware that Apple Watch tracks steps through the arm movements/swings when walking. However I was wondering what happens if I’m pushing a pram or carrying my son? Obviously my arms won’t be replicating that movement, does it still count steps as it detects the sort of bobbing up and down movement if I am holding something? The same would be if I’m walking but I’m holding my phone sending a text message or something. Does it still detect steps?

Thanks
The motion sensors are actually more sophisticated than simply detecting arm swings. I used to push a stroller with my Apple Watch as well. I also wear it while walking to work In the cold... with my hands in my pockets. It doesn’t seem to make a difference for step count.
 
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oeagleo

macrumors 6502a
Feb 5, 2016
672
383
West Jordan, Utah
Hi,

I’m aware that Apple Watch tracks steps through the arm movements/swings when walking. However I was wondering what happens if I’m pushing a pram or carrying my son? Obviously my arms won’t be replicating that movement, does it still count steps as it detects the sort of bobbing up and down movement if I am holding something? The same would be if I’m walking but I’m holding my phone sending a text message or something. Does it still detect steps?

Thanks
Exactly what I was wondering, as I felt a fool walking through the grocery pushing a cart with one hand, (my forearm started to look like Popeye's!), and swinging my arm with the other. I wondered, and decided to push the cart with both hands, and wow! Steps counted. I don't know how it does it, and I've yet to test the Garmin Fenix 5+ I have, but it really amazed me that I didn't have to have one arm free.
 

StaceyMJ86

macrumors 68020
Sep 22, 2015
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Washington, DC
Exactly what I was wondering, as I felt a fool walking through the grocery pushing a cart with one hand, (my forearm started to look like Popeye's!), and swinging my arm with the other. I wondered, and decided to push the cart with both hands, and wow! Steps counted. I don't know how it does it, and I've yet to test the Garmin Fenix 5+ I have, but it really amazed me that I didn't have to have one arm free.
That’s good to know, because I was doing the same thing when walking, pushing a stroller or a shopping cart. I even used to keep my phone in my pocket to make sure I got my steps.
 

smirking

macrumors 68030
Aug 31, 2003
2,626
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Silicon Valley
I've noticed that even with a lowly Fitbit that mere arm swings don't always count. It isn't hard to fool a Fitbit, but there does appear to be some level of distinguishing a mere vibration from an actual step. I don't know how well it'd stack up against an Apple Watch as I've never owned one of those.
 

StaceyMJ86

macrumors 68020
Sep 22, 2015
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Washington, DC
I've noticed that even with a lowly Fitbit that mere arm swings don't always count. It isn't hard to fool a Fitbit, but there does appear to be some level of distinguishing a mere vibration from an actual step. I don't know how well it'd stack up against an Apple Watch as I've never owned one of those.
I hated how my Fitbit counted steps. When I grocery shopped or was out walking, I had to put my Fitbit in my shoe to count steps. It was uncomfortable and made using during completions tedious for me. When I bought my Series 2, 2 years ago, I didn’t have those problems. The only thing I love about the Fitbit is it have native sleep tracking compared to the Apple Watch where you have to download apps to track your sleep.
 

macman4789

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 12, 2007
240
2
Thank you for your replies, it’s good to know that steps are counted regardless of carrying something or not. It seems everyone on here is walking around doing everything one handed to leave their Apple Watch arm free to swing ha!
 

smirking

macrumors 68030
Aug 31, 2003
2,626
2,288
Silicon Valley
The only thing I love about the Fitbit is it have native sleep tracking compared to the Apple Watch where you have to download apps to track your sleep.
Sleep tracking is the main reason why I own a Fitbit. I'm hoping that by the time my FitBit Blaze dies, the Apple Watch will have enough battery life to be a more reliable sleep tracker. Even if it isn't, I know there are third party sensors that would take over the sleep tracking duties while the AW charges so I might jump to an Apple Watch anyway.

Did you have a problem with your FitBit overcounting or undercounting steps. For me, it's undercounting.
 

sean000

macrumors 68000
Jul 16, 2015
1,603
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Bellingham, WA
Sleep tracking is the main reason why I own a Fitbit. I'm hoping that by the time my FitBit Blaze dies, the Apple Watch will have enough battery life to be a more reliable sleep tracker. Even if it isn't, I know there are third party sensors that would take over the sleep tracking duties while the AW charges so I might jump to an Apple Watch anyway.
I’ve been using my Series 0 for sleep tracking for years. I use the Pillow app, because it tracks when I get out of bed (bathroom breaks, the dog, kids) like my old Fitbit did. Battery is not a problem. I put my watch on the charger about 9pm every night, while I’m reading to kids, watching TV, etc. It doesn’t take long for it to get to 100%. I put it back on so Pillow can track my sleep. In the morning it still has about 85%, but I put it back on the charger while I shower and dress. Then I wear it all day and it still has 20% or so when I take it off for its evening charge.

I’m getting a new Series 4, and I suppose I could make it even easier by using the old watch for sleep tracking. Then again, one watch can easily handle it.
 

StaceyMJ86

macrumors 68020
Sep 22, 2015
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1,611
Washington, DC
Sleep tracking is the main reason why I own a Fitbit. I'm hoping that by the time my FitBit Blaze dies, the Apple Watch will have enough battery life to be a more reliable sleep tracker. Even if it isn't, I know there are third party sensors that would take over the sleep tracking duties while the AW charges so I might jump to an Apple Watch anyway.

Did you have a problem with your FitBit overcounting or undercounting steps. For me, it's undercounting.
It was undercounting for me.
 

StaceyMJ86

macrumors 68020
Sep 22, 2015
2,035
1,611
Washington, DC
I’ve been using my Series 0 for sleep tracking for years. I use the Pillow app, because it tracks when I get out of bed (bathroom breaks, the dog, kids) like my old Fitbit did. Battery is not a problem. I put my watch on the charger about 9pm every night, while I’m reading to kids, watching TV, etc. It doesn’t take long for it to get to 100%. I put it back on so Pillow can track my sleep. In the morning it still has about 85%, but I put it back on the charger while I shower and dress. Then I wear it all day and it still has 20% or so when I take it off for its evening charge.

I’m getting a new Series 4, and I suppose I could make it even easier by using the old watch for sleep tracking. Then again, one watch can easily handle it.
I wear my S4 during the day and charge it at night, while I wear the S2 at night to track my sleep. By the time I wake up at 5:30am, the S2 is at 90-93%.
 
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sean000

macrumors 68000
Jul 16, 2015
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Bellingham, WA
I wear my S4 during the day and charge it at night, while I wear the S2 at night to track my sleep. By the time I wake up at 5:30am, the S2 is at 90-93%.
One watch could easily handle it, but I guess two makes it convenient. Plus it keeps the old watch charged in case you ever need it as a backup! Either way sleep tracking with the Apple Watch works just fine. You just have to be more mindful of the battery than you do with the Fitbits.
 

StaceyMJ86

macrumors 68020
Sep 22, 2015
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Washington, DC
One watch could easily handle it, but I guess two makes it convenient. Plus it keeps the old watch charged in case you ever need it as a backup! Either way sleep tracking with the Apple Watch works just fine. You just have to be more mindful of the battery than you do with the Fitbits.
Yes I understand that. I could always charge the S4 while in the shower in the morning. Since I still have my S2, I just swap it out with the S4. When I only had the S2, I had no choice but to use just that for sleep tracking. I did also use my Fitbit a few times for sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring at night. Yes you do have to be mindful of the battery, as it do not go as many days as a Fitbit would before recharging.
 
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