AW3; How many steps does Apple consider a "flight" of stairs?

AMTYVLE

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 23, 2014
605
433
Treasure Coast, Florida
How many steps does Apple consider a "flight" of stairs?

I have the AW 3 - GPS only. I use stairs whenever I see the opportunity...

I work on the 3rd floor at my job, a set of stairs here is 11 steps. So I walk up the 3 sets of stairs, and look in the Activity App under "Flights Climbed" and it only says 2.

I know when I had a FitBit back in the day, Fitbit would consider 7 steps a flight of stairs.

I'm just wondering where Apple gets its numbers for "Flights Climbed"....?
 

jonnyb

macrumors 65816
Jan 21, 2005
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Rye/London, UK
I don’t think it’s based on the number of steps; rather, it’s based on the barometer in the Series 3 measuring small changes in air pressure. So I guess a ‘flight’ is more or less equal to the average height of a floor in a building.
 
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sean000

macrumors 68000
Jul 16, 2015
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Bellingham, WA
Both Fitbit and Apple Watch use the built-in barometric altimeter to count flights climbed based on atmospheric pressure changes. I know Fitbit counts a flight as 10 feet of elevation gained. The number of steps depends on how steep the stairs are. I'm not sure if Apple uses the same formula, but I'm sure it's something similar. It's not going to match up floor by floor with every building.
 

mtneer

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Sep 15, 2012
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I am amazed the barometer is able to measure pressure changes in as little as 10 feet of elevation gain at the bottom of an air column 600 miles tall (as thick as our atmosphere). I would expect this to be bamboozled by weather fronts or even wind eddies which can cause minute changes in pressure. But I guess Apple is also using the pedometer to filter out these spurious pressure differentials.
 
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sean000

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Jul 16, 2015
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Bellingham, WA
I am amazed the barometer is able to measure pressure changes in as little as 10 feet of elevation gain at the bottom of an air column 600 miles tall (as thick as our atmosphere). I would expect this to be bamboozled by weather fronts or even wind eddies which can cause minute changes in pressure. But I guess Apple is also using the pedometer to filter out these spurious pressure differentials.
I think they are just measuring the pressure changes as you are walking, so the regional barometric pressure can vary, but all the calculation cares about is the differential between the point you started walking and when you stop. I'm wondering if they use other variables as well, like steps, gps data, heart rate, and motion. If anything I wonder if a sudden pressure change might register a false stair climb, but maybe the motion sensor is able to combine that info with whether or not your waling motion/gait suddenly changed.
 

fischersd

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Oct 23, 2014
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Vancouver, BC, Canada
I think they are just measuring the pressure changes as you are walking, so the regional barometric pressure can vary, but all the calculation cares about is the differential between the point you started walking and when you stop. I'm wondering if they use other variables as well, like steps, gps data, heart rate, and motion. If anything I wonder if a sudden pressure change might register a false stair climb, but maybe the motion sensor is able to combine that info with whether or not your waling motion/gait suddenly changed.
Yep, they'd be using the other sensors to detect motion, to eliminate false positives. Could also use wifi and cellular (aGPS) signals to help with movement, on top of the internal gyro.
 

iKevinT

macrumors member
Dec 14, 2017
76
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I’ve found the iPhone Health app to be accurate every morning when I climb 7 floors getting to my office, as long as I don’t use the Stair Stepper on my series 1 Watch. It started to be accurate 2 or 3 iOS updates ago, prior to that I was always having to add to the app manually. Same stairs same time of day, iOS version only change. Location of iPhone also doesn’t matter if it’s in my hip pocket or shirt pocket.
 

SRLMJ23

macrumors 68020
Jul 11, 2008
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Central New York
I’ve found the iPhone Health app to be accurate every morning when I climb 7 floors getting to my office, as long as I don’t use the Stair Stepper on my series 1 Watch. It started to be accurate 2 or 3 iOS updates ago, prior to that I was always having to add to the app manually. Same stairs same time of day, iOS version only change. Location of iPhone also doesn’t matter if it’s in my hip pocket or shirt pocket.
You probably know this, however, I am amazed how many people do not know that starting with the iPhone 7/7+, Apple put a barometer in the area where the headphone jack would have been. Not sure why your iPhone was not as accurate as a few iOS updates ago than it is now. I cannot see how iOS updates would effect the barometer, however, maybe they tweaked something with the Health App that made that report more accurately? Just glad it is reporting accurately for you now without having to manually add the data to Health.

https://www.theverge.com/2016/9/16/...lastic-behind-where-headphone-jack-used-to-be

:apple:
 

michaelb5000

macrumors regular
Sep 23, 2015
109
55
I have become obsessed with trying to figure out how my AW3 actually counts stairs though, because it seems like a lot of factors and it is not nearly so easy as to say every time I climb 10 feet I get credit for a flight of stairs. No app directly tracks flights of stairs in real time as you do them (that I can find). So you are left with guessing what you are getting credit for. I use Pedometer+ because does display flights and does update its count at some point relatively soon if you are running the app. I also use the altimeter app Up High which is pretty cool and seems to give a real time display of the barometer as well as live tracking of relative changes but does not track stairs or cumulative climbs. My current goal is 25 flights a day; but if I had 100% accurate tracking I could easily average more than that.

If I climb 3 flights of stairs P+will give me credit for 2 pretty quickly, and then at some point later will sometimes add a 3rd. This pattern is hard to figure.

If I climb up and down 4 stairs, it seems like you may not get credit for any, if you do that say 10 times in row. Overall, the watch may have a hard time with quick changes in direction, ie the up and down.

I can't tell if it matters how long I am on the landing of the stairs or the top or bottom of the hill; some time does help, and probably helps the watch lock on that relative altitude. But if this is 2 seconds or 5 seconds or 20 seconds, is still a mystery to me.

This probably seems like cheating, but it may also help to touch your toes at the bottom of the stairs and then raise your hands at the top. Not sure about that though, and yes that does look and feel dumb.
 
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nicho

macrumors 68040
Feb 15, 2008
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If anything I wonder if a sudden pressure change might register a false stair climb, but maybe the motion sensor is able to combine that info with whether or not your waling motion/gait suddenly changed.
I've had a number of false positives in the past pacing around a rising elevator (just after iPhone 6 launched, I was living in a very tall building for a few weeks) and walking along a train as it entered a tunnel.
 

Newtons Apple

Suspended
Mar 12, 2014
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Jacksonville, Florida
I am amazed the barometer is able to measure pressure changes in as little as 10 feet of elevation gain at the bottom of an air column 600 miles tall (as thick as our atmosphere). I would expect this to be bamboozled by weather fronts or even wind eddies which can cause minute changes in pressure. But I guess Apple is also using the pedometer to filter out these spurious pressure differentials.
Can be fooled by weather for sure. When we had a recent brush with two hurricanes in two years, I would get 30-60 floors climbed due to the pressure change. I also think one must be up and actively walking during this pressure change so an escalator or elevator will not count.
 
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luxborealis

macrumors newbie
Jan 10, 2011
19
6
Canada
I’m a little ticked that my iPhone 8 Plus just miscalculated my 400m climb (about 1300 feet - confirmed using elevation difference on the Compass App) and it only credited me with 62 floors or 620 feet. That is a gross error, but interestingly it’s off by approximately one half... Hmmmm. The elevation gain is accurate.
 

SRLMJ23

macrumors 68020
Jul 11, 2008
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Central New York
I’m a little ticked that my iPhone 8 Plus just miscalculated my 400m climb (about 1300 feet - confirmed using elevation difference on the Compass App) and it only credited me with 62 floors or 620 feet. That is a gross error, but interestingly it’s off by approximately one half... Hmmmm. The elevation gain is accurate.
It says right in the Health app that: "A flight of stairs is counted as approximately 10 feet (3 Meters) of elevation gain (approximately 16 steps).

:apple:
 

kohlson

macrumors 68020
Apr 23, 2010
2,372
703
Health app and Watch/Exercise app is often out of alignment, at least for me. Just the other day my AW3 recorded a 1391 foot elevation gain, about what the map at the start of the hike said, in the Workout section. But it stated only 11 floors under "Exercise" on the day's summary. and 135 floors in the Health app. Two days earlier, a longer hike was 38 Flights in the summary in Watch app, but 11 floors in the Health app.

Here at home, we have 9-foot (measured interior) ceilings on the first floor. 15 steps to get to the second floor. Sometimes it's a "flight," sometimes not. After 3+ years of owning a watch, I really just focus on steps and calories.
 

Five_Oh

macrumors 6502
Jan 7, 2017
254
221
Flyover Country, USA
I’m a little ticked that my iPhone 8 Plus just miscalculated my 400m climb (about 1300 feet - confirmed using elevation difference on the Compass App) and it only credited me with 62 floors or 620 feet. That is a gross error, but interestingly it’s off by approximately one half... Hmmmm. The elevation gain is accurate.
I have found the elevation tracking inaccurate as well.

Recently I completed a trail with an advertised 2000 foot elevation gain (verified by a hiking app that measured 1998 feet of actual elevation gain.

The watch gave "credit" for 142 floors.
 

JoanRijkels

macrumors newbie
Sep 2, 2019
1
1
LOL, Thanks. Derr da derr on my part. I didn't think to look in there first....
It says right in the Health app that: "A flight of stairs is counted as approximately 10 feet (3 Meters) of elevation gain (approximately 16 steps).

:apple:
wondering if time is a factor... just had knee surgery and do 5 or 6 flights a day but... one step at a time...
and I never get credit for any flights. before the operation I did minimum of ten and got credit for all of them.
the shame of it is the AW is good way of keeping track of your “therapy”
 
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cand33ak

macrumors newbie
Sep 9, 2019
1
0
I was just wondering that so thanks for posting! Also if you’re on the third floor I think that would be going two flights up, right?

How many steps does Apple consider a "flight" of stairs?

I have the AW 3 - GPS only. I use stairs whenever I see the opportunity...

I work on the 3rd floor at my job, a set of stairs here is 11 steps. So I walk up the 3 sets of stairs, and look in the Activity App under "Flights Climbed" and it only says 2.

I know when I had a FitBit back in the day, Fitbit would consider 7 steps a flight of stairs.

I'm just wondering where Apple gets its numbers for "Flights Climbed"....?
 
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