Fitness app -- complexity vs versatility?

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by BarracksSi, Dec 12, 2015.

  1. BarracksSi, Dec 12, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2016

    BarracksSi Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    Jul 14, 2015
    #1
    I'll be brief --

    1. What do you want to change in Apple's stock fitness app on the Apple Watch?

    2. What don't you need?

    3. How would you rebuild the app without loading it with features nobody else needs?

    Personal wants:
    Tracking weights and reps per lifting exercise;
    Custom circuit workout programming;
    HR;
    Jogging duration;
    Interval timer (sprints, Tabata, etc);


    Don't need:
    All indoor cardio equipment;
    Swimming;
    Run mapping or cadence;
    Bike mapping, pedaling cadence;
    Elevation

    Now, I don't have an answer for the third question. Would it need to be a user-configurable app, then? If we go down that path, can it stay simple to use?

    Or would it ultimately be simpler to use third-party apps like we can do now?
     
  2. TxWatch, Dec 12, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2015

    TxWatch macrumors 6502

    TxWatch

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    Location:
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    #2
    I prefer to use a native App for my fitness tracking. The Workout App allows me to raise my wrist while running and see my progress without setting my Watch for show last App.

    Wants:
    Better run tracking by adding a "limited use" GPS to AW2
    Without a GPS in AW2, allow me to calibrate my Watch correctly with only a single phone run (broken today)
    Without GPS or calibration, allow me to manually add my stride length (least desirable)

    Let me view the details of past runs on my Watch (My 6 year old $100 Garmin FR 201 does this)
    Run mapping is not a requirement, but if it had GPS, allow me to see where I ran (Garmin does this w/ effort)

    My biggest ask is for Apple to create their own fitness tracking website, like fitbit, etc.
    Today, I have to use Sync Solver to get my Watch steps to Fitbit App / Website
    Then, my insurance company reads the Fitbit Website to give me $5 a day for anything over 3000 steps
    I would much rather point my insurance at an Apple website and cut Sync Solver / Fitbit out of the middle

    Do not need:
    Swim tracking
    Elevation

    I would like to see them take the fitness aspects of the Watch to the next level. They tout the fitness concept in all of their literature, but the lack of quality Apps and an online social ecosystem tells me they are really not serious about it.

    Thats it! :D

    TxWatch

    Edit: Oh yeah, allow me to use Siri to start my Workout when I an NOT carrying my phone. This would be very nice for the cold mornings when I sometimes wear double gloves at the start of my run. Hey Siri should be able to do stuff that is local to the Watch!
     
  3. johny979 macrumors regular

    johny979

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    #3
    I hope all this things can be updated in future updates of iOS, and not necessary bought AW2.....
     
  4. TxWatch macrumors 6502

    TxWatch

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    #4
    Other than GPS, I agree they can do everything else in Watch OS and a new fitness tracking website.

    TxWatch
     
  5. sean000 macrumors 6502a

    sean000

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    #5
    If you are really into a particular activity, there is probably a specialized fitness app (and a social network based around that app and activity) that works better for what you want to capture than a general fitness app. The question is whether or not you need everything it offers. I'm a cyclist who used to use specialized digital cyclometers back when I was training for racing in the 1980's and early 1990's. I could go out and get one of the latest ones... just a sensor or two that you attach to the bike to measure speed/distance and cadence that interfaces with an iPhone app, but these days I honestly don't need that degree of accuracy. The iPhone's GPS is fine for me to capture speed and distance. Don't need cadence anymore (I always know what RPM's I'm pedaling anyway). I do think it's cool to use an app like Strava or Runtastic to get a map of a long ride that includes elevation gained (I live in a mountainous area), but I will only run one of those apps occasionally. I will run it along with the Workout app one the watch since I like having the workout view in the Activity app on my iPhone. For most of my shorter rides I use only the workout app. Prior to the Apple Watch it had actually been years since I used any kind of activity tracking for my bike rides. I'd hate to put gadgets or wires on my beautiful retro lugged steel frames anyway :)

    I think these days I fall into that general population category that the Activity and Workout apps are adequate for, but I think many in the general population would find Apple's trio of health and fitness apps to be a bit confusing. If you buy a Fitbit, you just have one app (and that one app is still not ideal for many activities... not great for cycling). You also have Web interface and a social network to tap into for encouragement and friendly competition. With an Apple Watch you have the Activity app and the Workout app, which both feed information into the iPhone's Health app. With the Health app Apple tried to reduce the information overload by allowing you to add or remove items from your dashboard. It's still an ugly app, but a necessary one since Apple recognizes that no single fitness tracking device will capture everything... so they created a big database app to tie it all together for those who want that. Coming from a Fitbit one of my first questions when looking at the Activity app was, "Where does it show how many stairs I climbed?" Then I realized the iPhone records that to the Health app. It's not something the watch can measure on its own the way my old Fitbit could.

    Many Apple Watch owners will never get past the Activity app, and that's fine. It's very good at providing a general idea of how active, or how sedentary, you are over time... and helping you gradually increase activity if you need to. It looks like an Apple app: Elegant, simple, and it taps into our lizard-brain need to complete circular rings. The workout app could definitely use some improvements, but I'm not sure if it should try to compete with more specialized apps. That might be the path to making it a bigger mess, even if Apple can figure out how to let you customize it a bit like you can the Health app. That doesn't mean Apple shouldn't at least try to improve it, so hopefully they will pay attention to user feedback.

    I think either you or someone else brought up the main problem I have with most of these apps though: There is simply too much interaction required while you are engaged in the activities you are trying to track. When I ride my bike I have to pause the workout whenever I stop for a few minutes, and then remember to resume when I start pedaling. Some specialized apps that use the iPhone GPS can automatically pause and resume since they know when I stop moving. Still, there are times when I get a half hour into a bike ride and realize I didn't start a workout or open one of those apps. The best solution for me would probably be back to the sensors that stay on the bike and record everything to a specialized app (which would also share data with the Health app). I could see a time when workout stations and equipment in gyms have their own sensors that record data for you directly to a cloud based service that you can import data from (I don't go to gyms... maybe this already exists?).

    Dang. BarracksSi set a nice tone for this thread with the statement "I'll be brief" and then he got straight to the point. I had to come along and write a long-winded response. Sorry about that! :(. It is a complex issue though. I think most would agree that the workout app needs improvement. I'm just not sure how to do that while keeping it general and fairly simple to use.

    Sean
     
  6. Newtons Apple Suspended

    Newtons Apple

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    #6
    I do not see Apple doing much to the fitness app. Like everything else they will leave it up to the developers to write apps.
     
  7. BlueMoon63 macrumors 68000

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    Mar 30, 2015
    #7
    While I agree with you, Apple loves to take business away from companies by developing their own. Usually that is accessories. Still, I think you are right.

    I remember Apple putting out press releases and news releases from websites noting all the people Apple hired from the fitness industry. Made me believe they would have advanced the Watch OS by now.

    As much as I love th watch and wear it daily, there are some things I would have assumed would be updated by now. Watch faces for sure and fitness additions off the top of my head. I keep going back to watch faces. Even if Apple kept them to themselves, probably every one of us would have bought a few additional watch faces making Apple millions.
     
  8. TxWatch macrumors 6502

    TxWatch

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    #8
    If Apple is serious about people using their Watch as a fitness device, they should aim their sites at Fitbit's social aspects. The lack of an Apple website to share the fitness data from the Watch is a sales inhibitor. Fitbit is terrified of Apple, which is evidenced by their lack of a Watch App. (i.e. Why not turn the Watch into a Fitbit Tracker?)

    Most of my extended family members use Fitbits because they are dead simple. You put one on and it tracks your steps. It accurately tracks distance with a user-defined stride length. (I wish Apple's calibration was working for me) They compete for daily/weekly awards which motivates them to walk more and it is fun to talk about during casual conversations. They are not runners, marathoners or tri-athletes, they are everyday people who want to improve their health through walking.

    None of them own an Apple Watch and not because it is too expensive or too complicated. They do not feel it is good enough to replace their Fitbits because of the missing social aspects. (I explained Sync Solver, but it cannot be used for Fitbit competitions) They do not need the other benefits the Watch provides, so even with the really good discounts during the holiday season, they have not pulled the trigger. Two of them just recently bought the Fitbit Charge at BB to replace their older Fitbit pods.

    I really think Apple is missing the boat on what motivates people to stay fit and they could easily overtake Fitbit (and sell more Watches) if they put some effort into the social aspects.

    TxWatch
     
  9. Newtons Apple Suspended

    Newtons Apple

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    #9
    We agree. If Apple hired people just for the fitness aspect they need to be fired. It has been a while now the the Health program is lacking when compared to other company's app for their hardware. Garmin and FitBit are leading the software race in my opinion but it is depending on what everyone is looking for.
     
  10. BarracksSi thread starter Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    #10
    I didn't put social sharing in my opening post because it's not at all something I consider when it comes to staying fit.

    If I post about my positive results, I feel like I'm boasting; if I talk about negatives, I'm losing. It's bad enough that I posted a gym selfie on FB last week.
     
  11. sean000 macrumors 6502a

    sean000

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    #11
    I think Apple is more concerned with personal health tracking than advanced fitness tracking. As a Fitbit user I never took advantage of the social aspect, but I always thought I might in the future. That can be a powerful motivator, but for me it's more of a matter of time rather than motivation. I pretty much use my Fitbit only for sleep tracking these days. I'm more interested in the Apple Watch because of all the other features. I think of it as primarily a notification device that also has fitness tracking capability. Many people have no interest in notifications or other Smartwatch features, and they just want something for fitness. Two distinct markets, but ones that will increasingly overlap as smartwatches become better fitness trackers and as fitness trackers add more smartwatch features.

    I don't know if I see Apple rushing into the social fitness thing, although I bet they have considered it (if they aren't actively working on it). Apple seems to be more concerned with giving you a way to track your health beyond what we think of as fitness, but also keeping that data completely private. Of course it should be possible to share only the data you want to share in a social network environment, but social networks have a way of making some folks suspicious even when effective privacy controls exist. Another issue Apple has with social networking in general is that it's hard to compete with a universal platform network like Facebook, Google + (and fitness oriented ones like Strava). If Apple creates a fitness network that is open only to other Apple device users, they might struggle to compete in that arena. People want to join teams that their friends, family and coworkers are on, and chances are not all of them are going to be using Apple products to track their fitness. Of course Fitbit doesn't allow users of other devices to participate in their fitness network, but Fitbit owners include users of iOS, Android, Windows phones, etc. The cost of entry into Fitbit is low enough that many people get low-end Fitbits as gifts, or will buy one just to get on a fitness team with other people they know. If Apple ever decides to go after Fitbit, Apple will also need to offer less expensive entry-level fitness tracking devices.
     
  12. exxxviii macrumors 65816

    exxxviii

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    May 20, 2015
    #12
    I think the two have very different philosophies and strategies. I am still dreaming that Apple will buy Fitbit and then fix the AW activity hot mess. For example, entry to FB is free if you have an iPhone 5s or newer with the motion co-processor. There is no barrier to a FB watch app, and I would not be surprised if FB extends its mobile app to the AW eventually. They are basically leveraging their application platform to attract customers for premium services, including their devices.
     
  13. BarracksSi thread starter Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    #13
    Criminy. I'd make a hundred-fifty bucks a month.

    Anyway, you guys get where I'm going with this, right? The fitness gadget space is already awfully crowded by a whole range of hardware (going from, what is it, the Fitbit One clip-on to hardcore gear like multisport Garmin trackers) and social sharing networks (Fitbit again, or Nike+, or Strava, or Wahoo, etc.). Is it worth Apple's time — yet — to drag people away from the hours and mileage they've invested in these other services?

    I can only speak for myself when I say that I've stopped caring about the data that my Garmin has given me in the last four years. I used it to see not only how far I rode on my bike and how many calories I burned (or really, how many calories the Garmin estimated I burned), but to see how my HR varied during indoor workouts, or yoga, or sprint intervals, or whatever. Today, I can't tell you how many workouts I have stored on Garmin Connect, and I can't tell you the last time I've looked any of them up for any reason at all. I just don't care.

    If I were to go back in time seven years to when I was starting out trying to get into better shape, I can tell you what the AW would tell me: I was a hell of a lot less active than I would have claimed to be. One workout a day, or even two, wasn't enough when I was sitting on my butt for the other sixteen hours I was awake. If I had the Apple Watch back then, and were to trust it and simply stand around every hour, and also work out often enough to pass my Move goal regularly, I would have started feeling a lot better so much sooner...

    ...and I wouldn't have blown any time at all trying to configure an overly-complicated workout app.
     
  14. Quu macrumors 68020

    Quu

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    #14
    To me it is targeting cardio only when it should also have support for other types of exercise like lifting weights. It's completely possible to record that data using the gyroscope and accelerometer to at-least count how many lifts you're performing.

    Overall I like it the app, it just needs more workouts.
     
  15. BarracksSi thread starter Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    #15
    Yeah. See, on my bike, I've become satisfied with knowing only the time of day and my pedaling cadence. It's especially true on very windy days when I'm suffering and don't need to see how slow I'm actually going. ;) As long as I'm spinning around 90 rpm, I'm okay.

    The only fitness data from which I gain any benefit anymore is how much weight I was lifting in an earlier workout. If, instead, I were seriously training on my bike (I should, since I spent close to four grand building the damned thing), maybe I could go all OCD and match up some Powertap/Quarq numbers with my sleep patterns, or what I ate for dinner and breakfast, or whether I drank coffee, or which helmet I was wearing, or how I could get down to single-digit body fat to help me climb (and lose the marginal upper-body muscle I have now), on and on and on and on.

    I could bury myself in training data from the bike, and at that point, no Apple Watch app would ever be complicated enough. I'd be better off with dedicated bike sensors and a specific online community (or, even better, a local bike scene to spend time with).

    I'll go back to tracking weightlifting. You think cycling requires a lot of data input? At least you can only go one direction on a bike; there are a few dozen ways to pick things up and put them down. Then, when you log which exercise you do, how much weight you lift, and how many reps for each exercise, you don't want anything smaller than a 3x5" notepad -- or, not coincidentally, a smartphone screen. I think there's a third-party AW app to help, but it still needs its companion iPhone app to plan a routine ahead of time.

    ------- To circle back to my original point ------

    I don't think it would do any good for Apple to make its Workout and Activity apps any more complex. Just among us in this thread, we've got a variety of ways we could track our fitness, and they barely overlap, too. My "ideal" fitness app for the Watch wouldn't look much like anyone else's ideal fitness app. Apple's apps should remain quite broad in nature, IMO, and they should be super-easy to use. Let other developers think up ways to write their own apps for their own activities.
     
  16. Quu macrumors 68020

    Quu

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    #16
    I have to say though I really do like the three rings activity app on the iPhone. Being able to see all my past exercising, how long for, at which times, my heart rate, how many calories I burned (very roughly). That's all interesting data to me and helps me to plan my future workouts etc

    I think Apples on the right track and I agree they need to keep it simple and approachable. Too much complexity will get people frustrated. It needs to maintain its intuitiveness and support more workouts that people want to do while wearing the watch.

    There is nothing more infuriating than spending a lot of money on something that purports to improve your health only to have it be non functional in your chosen ways to better yourself etc - Thankfully I run and it records that perfectly but for other things I do, not so much.
     
  17. BarracksSi thread starter Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    #17
    I get what you mean, and I think it would be handy.

    The good thing about cardio workouts is that they're simple for the user to record. Pick an exercise, start, stop -- and that's it.

    When recording weight training, or calisthenics, or circuits, or Crossfit (which I think is un-trackable apart from elapsed time and, I suppose, the WOD name), you're adding whichever exercise you're doing and how much weight you're moving. Then, if you're doing pushups or pullups, you can leave out the weight number but might want to write down which version you're doing and how many reps -- but since your wrists aren't moving much, the accelerometer probably won't register each rep, either.

    I had thought that the AW would be enough for tracking weights, but I'm not so sure that it's big enough for so much user input. I'll keep checking on third-party apps, and in the meantime, I'll just use Apple's "Other" workout to fill the rings.
     
  18. MartyCan macrumors 65816

    MartyCan

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    #18
    More workout profile options.

    Sorry, seems I just started a parallel thread. Not identical but similar enough. If the mods merge them it won't hurt my feelings.
     
  19. BarracksSi thread starter Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    #19
    What would they be?
     
  20. nicho macrumors 68000

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    #20
    I can't think of anything they've missed except weightlifting (I'll come to that) although I'm not sure if they could maybe fine tune the "other" calculations for specific others like yoga and such? If like to be able to disable ones I don't use in the same way I choose to enable or disable glances and third party complications, using the Apple Watch app.

    For weight lifting I think it would make more sense as a separate app. With os2 there's no reason they couldn't make this happen. It wouldn't have to be default but could be separate, at least at first. Perhaps they wouldn't want to get into the space some third parties have? But at the same time, if they put the time and effort in they could really integrate it and make it seamless. Siri could help? "Hey Siri I'm going to dead lift 100kg" - but I'm not sure touch input would work too well. Unless they had preprogrammed routines, but then that's probably going down the wrong route. If they were serious about it they could go after some big weightlifting competitors and get them involved in the same way as the running woman.
     
  21. BarracksSi thread starter Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    #21
    ^^^^^ Right, and it can get out of hand, too.

    I've just reinstalled an app called FitnessBuilder. It lays out a multi-week plan of different routines and displays the workouts on the AW. I probably won't start using it per its schedule until the middle of next month, but it might work okay as a watch-based workout app.

    I don't know if it accesses all the hardware (HR, accelerometer, etc), and I haven't yet test-run a workout involving free weights. Here's a couple screenshots anyway.

    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1450329834.300042.jpg
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1450329843.429045.jpg
     
  22. BarracksSi thread starter Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    #22
    A followup to FitnessBuilder --

    It's not native, at least not yet, so it won't run if I leave my phone at home or buried in a locker room.

    Add another point for Apple's apps.
     
  23. BlueMoon63 macrumors 68000

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    #23
    That's the app I use and it doesn't use the heart rate or anything. You have to start the app on the phone and then you can put the phone away. Still use the Apple workout app as well if you want all the credit.

    FitnessBuilder is a great app - probably the best weightlifting app for the phone but the only real use on the watch is you can update and track from the watch - plus rest period. The phone however has to be in range or wi-fi range.
     
  24. BarracksSi thread starter Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    #24
    BlueMoon63, can you input weight values and whatnot via the watch as you go through your routine? Then, on later days, will it recall the previous values so you know which weights to use?
     
  25. BlueMoon63 macrumors 68000

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    #25
    Yes and yes... For example, I never use the default programs they have. I always create my own and set target values and reps and sets. It then brings those values up during the workout. You can then overwrite with new reps/weights and it creates a log. The next time you workout or want to change the new targets, it is all there from the entire history of each individual exercise. Very nice. If they make the Apple Watch App Native it would be even better but it is nice to do a set a hit the rest timer and you are able to set the reps you did - or even change the weight.

    I would rate the iPhone app a 9 - by far the best I have used (tried about 10)
    I would rate the Watch app a 4 because I basically just use it to see the reps and weight so I don't have to check the phone over and over.

    If it goes native, it would be a 9.
     

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