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Can Inelli

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 12, 2011
86
17
Hi guys, I have posted numerous times on Apple forums and had no solutions and no feedback from Apple, disappointing.

Here is my problem:

I am a competitive open-water marathon swimmer, thus I bought the AWU the day it came out. I was excited about the dual band and thought it would be much more accurate compared to my old Watch 7, boy I was wrong. I am swimming every single day out in the Aegean Sea. Each training session is around 2-3 kilometres long. So I swim around 40-60 minutes in average each session.

More than half of my swim sessions have wrong distance and thus wrong pace data with the AWU. Before AWU I used to have Series 7 and that worked much better in Open Water Swim. The problem is that AWU calculates extra distances due to faulty GPS points and bad tracking for some reason. It incorporates random loops and turns during my swim even though I don't pause and swim in a straight line.

Example: last weekend I attended a competition where I swam from Megisti Island in Greece to Kas, Turkey. The distance I swam was 7km whereas AWU calculated 8.5km which is impossible. When I checked the map, I see that the GPS track has bad points, loops, turns etc, whereas I swam continuously straight without stopping. There wasn't any current, wave, wind, nothing, flat and calm seas.

The same problem keeps happening during most of my open-water swim training sessions. Attaching some screenshots.

Dear Apple, I need a solution for this, it has been months. I love my AWU and it's smartwatch features but unfortunately, it's GPS simply doesn't work and is not reliable out in the sea. And I rely on this device to improve my competitive timings.

When the GPS works, I would say 40% of the time, it gives a perfect GPS track and map, however, it's absolutely not reliable meaning the next session or next day it just goes crazy.

Such an expensive high-end AWU should not have this bug. It’s clearly a software issue which I reported to Apple a few months back and nothing has been done.

I know open-water swimming is kind of a niche area but this has to be fixed asap.

Do any of you guys face a similar issue?

Notes:
  • I am swimming freestyle stroke, I know that GPS signals disappear underwater thus I don't swim breaststroke. All these problems occur during freestyle swim where my arm is well above the water during each stroke.
  • I use the "Precision Start" function and wait for the perfect GPS lock. Doesn't help.
  • I don't wear any other metals etc on my body, I simply swim with my Speedo and that's it.
  • Running the latest Watch OS 9.5.2
  • I swim with a friend of mine most of the time, he also has the AWU, his GPS tracks are perfect, all our settings being the same on the device. (But his device doesn't read HR whereas mine is good with HR in water)
  • Apple suggested I unpair, reset, recalibrate my device. I did that numerous times, nothing changed.
  • The skies here are perfectly clear with no cloud coverage, blue and sunny.
  • We don't have swells or waves here, almost perfectly flat every single day.
  • A couple of friends swim with Garmin devices and they get great results.

 

Attachments

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Howard2k

macrumors 603
Mar 10, 2016
5,399
5,240
How is the GPS on land? If your friend has an AWU and has perfect GPS tracking then maybe there is a fault in your GPS system?
 

Can Inelli

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 12, 2011
86
17
How is the GPS on land? If your friend has an AWU and has perfect GPS tracking then maybe there is a fault in your GPS system?
It's perfect on land. Went on long hikes, run, cycling etc. Perfect on land.
The only problem is with Open Water Swim workout.
 

cubodado

macrumors regular
Nov 28, 2022
185
256
Torino
I’m not that good swimmer but I had a problem with a late open water workout too: did a workout I did before and was around 1200 meters, last time I did it it was 1750 meters! AW6, watchOS 9.5.2
 

Can Inelli

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 12, 2011
86
17
I’m not that good swimmer but I had a problem with a late open water workout too: did a workout I did before and was around 1200 meters, last time I did it it was 1750 meters! AW6, watchOS 9.5.2
So it recorded 1750 whereas the real distance is 1200? I have the same situation. It's always measuring extra distances.
 

canpoyrazoglu

macrumors newbie
Aug 2, 2019
22
16
I'm the friend OP is referring to. A couple of observations from me:

- All our settings, as OP said, are the same.

- OP had AW Series 7 before, and I had AW Series 6. Neither had any problems. Ironically, GPS was _much_ better and reliable on AW Series 6/7 than Ultra.

- It might be something to do with additional GPS bands, as Series 6/7 didn't have any problem.

- We literally swim together next to each other, in a straight line, at the same pace, spanning the same distances, using the supposedly-identical hardware. I never have GPS problems.

- One thing I noted is that I also do walking workouts with my AW, OP usually doesn't. I've read somewhere it helps "calibrate" the AW, perhaps something to do with accelerometer/gyroscope which is important while swimming when GPS signal is unavailable underwater, if that's the case. However, OP also started doing walking workouts, yet the problem remains.

- In my personal opinion: The zig-zag pattern seems like there is some gap in the data, and AW is trying to "fill" that data by interpolation. However, for some reason, the available data points somehow get drifted. I'm not an expert in MEMS but could it be faulty accelerometer or gyroscope? I know it's extremely unlikely but I'm out of ideas.

- However (contradicting with above point), When AW can't get signal for any reason (e.g. underwater) it shows gray dotted lines. This is not the case here. AW for some reason thinks that data is there (otherwise instead of zig-zags, we'd simply see gray dotted lines indicating no data for there, until the next location with available data).

- Like above, could GPS be faulty? Perhaps the antenna connector inside the watch? Again, extremely unlikely, but I'm out of ideas.
 
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okkibs

macrumors 6502a
Sep 17, 2022
974
919
The AW Ultra is a mass-produced product and as is common with that not every single unit is thoroughly tested so small differences between units are normal. If everything works perfectly on land there is a good chance whatever tests were done didn't catch this particular issue.

And accelerometers/gyroscopes can and do break, that might just be the issue here. In commercial aviation where these sensors are critical there are at least two accelerometers and two gyroscopes used (per axis of course) and despite that there have been accidents due to both failing on the same axis.

There is a good chance that a replacement unit will fix your issue entirely, especially since your colleague has no issues with his. Apple support might just be useless for this, especially since these sensors can deliver accurate-enough data sometimes and wrong data at other times. Apple cannot do such a repair on an AW so the entire unit needs to be switched out.

It could of course be a software bug of some sort, sure, and that is why Apple recommended the usual steps of resetting the AW and pairing it again. But I don't believe that trying that more than once will change anything, and I've had issues with the AW in the past where the recommendations really came down to resetting it at often as necessary, which of course did not actually fix anything.

You can also try switching to the WatchOS 10 beta and see if it's really a software bug that might be fixed with the newer release. But WatchOS 10 comes with its own problems, and you cannot downgrade to WatchOS 9 yourself. For that you'll have to bring it into an Apple Store and they can re-install WatchOS 9.

You can actually do this on purpose to force a reinstallation of WatchOS 9 on your device. If it was a bug I'd imagine reinstalling the entire OS from scratch would fix it. But I highly doubt it will change anything for your issue.
 

Can Inelli

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 12, 2011
86
17
The AW Ultra is a mass-produced product and as is common with that not every single unit is thoroughly tested so small differences between units are normal. If everything works perfectly on land there is a good chance whatever tests were done didn't catch this particular issue.

And accelerometers/gyroscopes can and do break, that might just be the issue here. In commercial aviation where these sensors are critical there are at least two accelerometers and two gyroscopes used (per axis of course) and despite that there have been accidents due to both failing on the same axis.

There is a good chance that a replacement unit will fix your issue entirely, especially since your colleague has no issues with his. Apple support might just be useless for this, especially since these sensors can deliver accurate-enough data sometimes and wrong data at other times. Apple cannot do such a repair on an AW so the entire unit needs to be switched out.

It could of course be a software bug of some sort, sure, and that is why Apple recommended the usual steps of resetting the AW and pairing it again. But I don't believe that trying that more than once will change anything, and I've had issues with the AW in the past where the recommendations really came down to resetting it at often as necessary, which of course did not actually fix anything.

You can also try switching to the WatchOS 10 beta and see if it's really a software bug that might be fixed with the newer release. But WatchOS 10 comes with its own problems, and you cannot downgrade to WatchOS 9 yourself. For that you'll have to bring it into an Apple Store and they can re-install WatchOS 9.

You can actually do this on purpose to force a reinstallation of WatchOS 9 on your device. If it was a bug I'd imagine reinstalling the entire OS from scratch would fix it. But I highly doubt it will change anything for your issue.
I am in touch with Apple support since two days, they have called me twice, I sent them all the screenshots, GPX files etc. Nothing concrete yet. They are gonna call me again tomorrow and I know the chances are slim but I'll ask for a replacement..
 

canpoyrazoglu

macrumors newbie
Aug 2, 2019
22
16
If they refuse to replace (which they usually do), don't hesitate to escalate to someone at a higher position.
 

okkibs

macrumors 6502a
Sep 17, 2022
974
919
They'd need to inspect the AW physically and even then unless the sensors show the fault at that particular moment when they do diagnostics they might not even be able to tell that anything's wrong. The only thing to do here is to insist on a replacement as again, Apple does not do any such repairs on any AW, they can't as it's all integrated, can't just swap out a single sensor. So that AW needs to be replaced entirely and even if only to rule out defective hardware.

What you can also do is order another brand new Ultra (that can be returned), test it out to confirm that this one works, then bring both into an Apple Store, explain what's going on and ask them to either authorize getting you a refurb/repair replacement AW or keeping the working new one (the latter is unlikely, even the store manager might not be authorized to do that).

At least then you know for sure if your AW has defective hardware.
 

Newbie67

macrumors regular
Apr 9, 2015
183
125
Professional navigator and commercial marine assessor here. You may be experiencing GPS jamming as you are near an area with known GPS interference activity. Given the AWU dual band capability there may be issues when it is switching between the US GPS and GLONASS satellite constellations. Your proximity to the Black Sea operations area made me think this could be a contributing factor.. my 2 cents
 
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msackey

macrumors 68030
Oct 8, 2020
2,542
2,954
I hope you know that Apple forums are not monitored by Apple employees and solutions provided there are by Apple users. The Apple forums ages ago used to be really dynamic and very helpful, but over 10 years ago when Apple re-designed it, it because a lot less navigable and hard to discover threads. I used to be really active there, but not any more.
 

Can Inelli

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 12, 2011
86
17
I have been in touch with Apple Support Turkey since mid July, they connected remotely to my iPhone, diagnosed the Watch, resetted the Watch, we tried everything but I am still getting wrong GPS tracks and extra distances while swimming. (Meanwhile I am also trying the Series 7 at the same time on my other wrist, has no issues at all!) I explained all this to Apple Support Turkey, they wanted to inspect the Watch, so I sent it in, yesterday when I checked the status it says "Unable to Duplicate Issue, no problem has been found, sending Watch back". This is crazy. I really doubt they actually tried Open Water Swimming 😊 Apple Turkey has been terrible in terms of customer support. Any suggestions after this?
 

okkibs

macrumors 6502a
Sep 17, 2022
974
919
It's a watch for the masses, even the Ultra. Apple simply gives no guarantees about this accuracy and if just a couple athletes like you have an issue that 95% of the customers do not have, then no matter how valid your claim is Apple won't care. It is as you said, support won't go swimming to test your AW and their internal diagnostics aren't catching it so to them your AW is working exactly as intended.

The solution likely will be, as I said before, to replace the entire AW.

Apple's ads are one thing, showing off intense sports and remote spots where the AW should really shine, but then ironically their own support processes prevent the AW from living up to those claims. You have a couple choices, you can remain in this modern support hell and try your luck some more, or sell the AW and buy a new unit, or perhaps you have AC+.
 

Can Inelli

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 12, 2011
86
17
It's a watch for the masses, even the Ultra. Apple simply gives no guarantees about this accuracy and if just a couple athletes like you have an issue that 95% of the customers do not have, then no matter how valid your claim is Apple won't care. It is as you said, support won't go swimming to test your AW and their internal diagnostics aren't catching it so to them your AW is working exactly as intended.

The solution likely will be, as I said before, to replace the entire AW.

Apple's ads are one thing, showing off intense sports and remote spots where the AW should really shine, but then ironically their own support processes prevent the AW from living up to those claims. You have a couple choices, you can remain in this modern support hell and try your luck some more, or sell the AW and buy a new unit, or perhaps you have AC+.
I don't have AC+ because it's not offered in Turkish market. Sad that Apple does not stand up to their promises. Btw, I know for a fact that some other swimmers had similar issues and their AWU were directly replaced by Apple in the USA. The problem is with the Apple Support Turkey imo. Really sad.. I would have switched to Garmin if it wasn't for the daily conveniences such as LTE and Apple Pay stuff.
 

Monkswhiskers

macrumors 6502a
Feb 6, 2018
841
668
Might be worth holding out for watchos10 and see if it fixes anything.
I had a glitch for years OW swimming, where after a few seconds after starting it would jump to .5 mile distance if the phone was nearby (even in airplane mode), this was over multiple watches so clearly a software issue. I was in touch with a senior engineer in the end but it never got resolved until I updated to watchos8 (i think?) and the problem never returned.
 

Can Inelli

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 12, 2011
86
17
Might be worth holding out for watchos10 and see if it fixes anything.
I had a glitch for years OW swimming, where after a few seconds after starting it would jump to .5 mile distance if the phone was nearby (even in airplane mode), this was over multiple watches so clearly a software issue. I was in touch with a senior engineer in the end but it never got resolved until I updated to watchos8 (i think?) and the problem never returned.
Thanks for the feedback mate. The weird thing is the people I swim with also have the Ultra and we are all on the same Watch OS and same iOS. We start at the same spot, same time. They get correct data. I don't. My Watch 7 never had this issue..
 

Monkswhiskers

macrumors 6502a
Feb 6, 2018
841
668
Yea my 7 is pretty solid for OW. I feel your pain, the reason I went with the AW (since the 3) originally was because the OW swimming was much better than the other manufacturers at the time. The fact that your peers have no issue with their Ultras points to a unique software issue like mine was (for any number of reasons), I went on all the forums and nobody else had my problem. Really annoying!
As you say OW swimming is still considered niche so probably limited resources by Apple in that area or they just wait until enough people moan before doing something about it. Did they ask you to reset your iphone as well?
 

Can Inelli

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 12, 2011
86
17
Yea my 7 is pretty solid for OW. I feel your pain, the reason I went with the AW (since the 3) originally was because the OW swimming was much better than the other manufacturers at the time. The fact that your peers have no issue with their Ultras points to a unique software issue like mine was (for any number of reasons), I went on all the forums and nobody else had my problem. Really annoying!
As you say OW swimming is still considered niche so probably limited resources by Apple in that area or they just wait until enough people moan before doing something about it. Did they ask you to reset your iphone as well?
no they just resetted my Watch, not the phone.
 

okkibs

macrumors 6502a
Sep 17, 2022
974
919
The fact that your peers have no issue with their Ultras points to a unique software issue like mine was
The way the software is cryptographically signed means it's identical across all units. If it was 100% software then it should have gone away after a reset to factory defaults. I find it very unlikely that the same random software bug would keep coming up on the same unit again and again.

In my opinion it's a hardware issue, specifically that the onboard sensors are not working correctly. They might be within Apple specs, meaning that they work just well enough that Apple considers them not to be faulty. And that is the support hell where you can report a problem 20 times and be able to prove that this is happening with logs and whatnot, yet it's pointless as the manufacturer support just runs the diagnostics that finds no issue and then pretends the issue doesn't exist. "You are swimming wrong."

They will of course ask you to rate your experience, and not to hesitate to come in again if there is any problem at all. They'll be happy to help!
 

Monkswhiskers

macrumors 6502a
Feb 6, 2018
841
668
The way the software is cryptographically signed means it's identical across all units. If it was 100% software then it should have gone away after a reset to factory defaults. I find it very unlikely that the same random software bug would keep coming up on the same unit again and again.

In my opinion it's a hardware issue, specifically that the onboard sensors are not working correctly. They might be within Apple specs, meaning that they work just well enough that Apple considers them not to be faulty. And that is the support hell where you can report a problem 20 times and be able to prove that this is happening with logs and whatnot, yet it's pointless as the manufacturer support just runs the diagnostics that finds no issue and then pretends the issue doesn't exist. "You are swimming wrong."

They will of course ask you to rate your experience, and not to hesitate to come in again if there is any problem at all. They'll be happy to help!
If the OP is having no issue with gps for other workouts though?
 

Can Inelli

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 12, 2011
86
17
Hey guys, bought a new Apple Watch Ultra 3 weeks ago and I have been trying that one daily. It worked perfectly until yesterday. Yesterday I started having the same problem even with the new Ultra.. all my friends with Garmins get great results during open water swimming. Such a letdown by Apple.
 
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MaxLt

macrumors newbie
Jan 4, 2014
18
32
My original Ultra never worked for swimming tracking too - gives some crazy results, like I swim 500 meters in the straight line, and it registers the starting and ending points correctly and tells me I swam 120 meters. Importing the same workout into Strava almost always gives correct distance! With pool laps it loses 2-3 laps out of 10, which makes it useless. I did all the "fixes" they recommended - calibration reset, watch reset, etc. WatchOS 10 did not help either. I gave up at this point. Very disappointing.
 

mtakanen

macrumors newbie
Sep 29, 2023
2
0
I have same problem. It's very seldom to get clean GPS track from open-water swim. I often carry my iPhone in the swimmer's buoy (uninterrupted GPS signal). Older AW models used iPhone's GPS to save battery. I wonder if it's possible to force Ultra to do the same?
 

Can Inelli

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 12, 2011
86
17
I have same problem. It's very seldom to get clean GPS track from open-water swim. I often carry my iPhone in the swimmer's buoy (uninterrupted GPS signal). Older AW models used iPhone's GPS to save battery. I wonder if it's possible to force Ultra to do the same?
I tried two different brand new Ultra's for at least 100 open water swim sessions (I swim daily both winter and summer). I concluded that AWU is not the best device for open water swimming. I will purchase Garmin Epix Pro and try that one out. Seems like that has the best accuracy. Check out 15:56 where he compares the tracks of Ultra vs Epix Pro

It's not possible to force Ultra to use phone's GPS anymore. Even if it did, it wouldn't work for me :( since I swim without the phone. I love my AWU except it's swimming shortfalls. It's also not good for pool swimming where you don't have proper drill modes, rest times, pace data etc. With Watch OS10 they ruined the pace data. I get wrong pace all the time after updating.

Seems like Apple doesn't care about the swimmer community and just wants to please occasional runners, bikers, hikers and outdoor walkers.
 
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