How many times to calibrate watch?

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by TxWatch, Nov 30, 2015.

  1. TxWatch macrumors 6502

    TxWatch

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2015
    Location:
    Texas
    #1
    I just picked up a new Apple Watch during the pre-Black Friday deal at Best Buy. I own several Apple devices, so i wanted to try the watch when the prices came down a bit. Overall, I really like the watch, but I have a question about the calibration aspect.

    I run on a regular basis and I have a Garmin Forerunner 201 (very old), so I wanted to use the Watch by itself. I tried it several times without my iPhone 6P and as expected, the mileage and pace were way off by a factor of approximately 1.25.

    I followed the instructions for resetting the calibration data on the watch, and then I set it up to calibrate to my phone. I went for an hour run at my usual pace using a newly purchased armband and the mileage from the Workout App matched my Garmin within a tenth of a mile after running 7 miles. Of course, I was using the phones GPS, so this was not surprising.

    The next time I ran, I ran without my phone and the watch was off again by a factor of 1.22 which was not what I expected. I had one run before calibrating the watch which was off by the same amount, so the margin of error was the same I had experienced before calibrating the watch.

    How many times will I have to run with my phablet on my arm before the watch finally learns my stride length? Has anyone been successful with their Watch calibrations? If so, how may times did it take?

    I really like the idea of a smart watch which also does fitness tracking and I knew before buying it, the calibration was going to be an issue for my runs. However, everything I read said I should run for at least 20 minutes with my phone and the watch would measure my stride length for future use without the phone. After a 60 minute run, the stride length calculation should be accurate after 12,500 plus steps.

    Thanks

    TxWatch
     
  2. exxxviii macrumors 65816

    exxxviii

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    #2
    I have run 20 to 50 miles with the phone in multiple attempts to calibrate. Mine is pretty much off by the same error factor without the phone (AW says 5.65 miles on a 5.07 course). And like you, when I run with the phone, it is within a few hundredths. In my humble opinion, Apple's calibration does not work.
     
  3. TxWatch thread starter macrumors 6502

    TxWatch

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2015
    Location:
    Texas
    #3
    I was worried someone was going to reply with the same issue. :(

    Has anyone else measured the accuracy of their Watch after calibrating? If so, did you do something different to calibrate versus what has been repeated on dozens of web sites?

    The running stride length they are using for the Watch is not even close in my case. This is probably because I am only 5' 5" which is below the height of the "average" person. Even if they used the average running stride length of a person my height, which I entered into the Watch, the distance and pace would be way closer than what I see now.

    Stride length is a pretty simple calculation and would only require minimal storage on the Watch.

    1. When I am running with the watch and phone, measure the distance with the GPS and divide by the number of steps to calculate my personal stride length. This could be done continuously or at the end of the run.
    2. The next time I run without the phone, multiply my personal stride length by the number of steps to estimate my pace and distance as I run. This should be done continuously like the Watch does now with their incorrect estimate of my stride length.
    3. If I run with my watch and phone again, average the two calculated numbers and store a single number as my "new" stride length. Use this number until I run with my phone again.

    Am I missing something?

    IOS 9.1 on my iPhone 6P
    Watch OS 2.0.1 on my Sport 42mm

    TxWatch
     
  4. mpfuchs macrumors regular

    mpfuchs

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2014
    Location:
    VA
    #4
    Could you please share one of the websites that show how to "calibrate" the watch.
    I'm with you, this should be something the watch should be smart enough to update when the phone is being used as well.
    I haven't done any runs, just walks, so it should be even easier in my case.

    On another note, has anybody else realized, that the watch only counts "minutes standing" when you also have the phone on you?
     
  5. exxxviii macrumors 65816

    exxxviii

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    #5
    There are a number of active threads where folks comment on calibration and accuracy. If you search on the terms workout and calibration or running and calibration, you will find them.
    Here is a link to Apple's support page about calibration. It is also in the owners manual for the the watch.
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204516
     
  6. TxWatch thread starter macrumors 6502

    TxWatch

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2015
    Location:
    Texas
    #6
    Thanks for the search criteria on this forum. I searched Google several times before posting, but I was not able to find the threads you mentioned.

    After reading the big calibration thread which started in August, I see this problem has been going on since the initial release of the Watch and was not fixed in the latest update. The one point made about consistent arm movements by iPhysicist seems to make the most sense. I have been running outdoors for 19 years, so I can easily control my arm movements when needed.

    I will run with my phone a couple more times to see if the accuracy gets any better, but I am not going to expect different results until there is another update to the Watch OS. For now, the most important aspect is the step count so I can automatically track steps for my companies insurance program which pays $5 a day for anything over 3000 steps. The watch will pay for itself in a couple of months...

    Thanks,

    TxWatch
     
  7. exxxviii macrumors 65816

    exxxviii

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    #7
    I am similar-- I have been running for 30 years and I typically log about 1,100 miles/year. My stride is very efficient and consistent. I would love to think that the posts about advanced arm movement analysis are behind the calibration problems, (Apple has not offered any insights into how calibration works, so this is wholly speculative) but that does not seem to bear out in my experience. The routes I run regularly are pretty flat, and my pace is very similar on each split day to day. My Fitbit with a manually entered stride length is more accurate than the AW.
     
  8. Julien macrumors G3

    Julien

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #8
    I also fit this description (about 3 to 4 outdoor runs a week). However 2 to 3 times a month I do extreme trail running. Extreme trail running screws the calibration up every time (also lowers my VO2 Max) even though I carry my iPhone on every run.

    Just to boast a little. On my last run my Garmin 620 now has my VO2 Max estimate at a stratospheric 54.:eek:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  9. gsmornot macrumors 68030

    gsmornot

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2014
    #9
    Until the watch includes GPS for Activity tracking its going to be best estimate. My first Garmin cycling computer was basic with no chest strap for heart rate and no wheel sensor to verify speed or show cadence. It took its best guess but was wrong on my activity level but good with distance. Current computer has all needed sensors and does a nice job.

    My watch has the same problem at the moment. Its calibration is close but not exactly right. One thing it has been though is consistent. Right/wrong it has been showing the same basic results each run so I have been able to see my progress and track changes in my ability to cover my route in more or less time. I feel like the distance is off compared to what my phone with GPS would say and has said but in the end I don't need exact results. I would like very much to have GPS included but since its not I enjoy other features. I like that it tracks movement, has the ability to store music and play to my bluetooth headphones and gives me a way to adjust pace. If I wanted more accuracy I would go with a dedicated device like a Garmin but for a device that does many other things too its fine for me that its not perfect. Wish it was and its not off the hook for being imperfect because I know they can do better but I knew its limits before I decided to keep it and use it.
     
  10. aliensporebomb macrumors 68000

    aliensporebomb

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2005
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN, USA, Urth
    #10
    For me as a cyclist this topic is of interest because I do a fair amount of walking too. I generally have my phone with me at all times but I liked the idea of potentially going out with just the watch but sans gps there is no real accuracy happening. I bet that the next watch will have that. I wonder if there's a way the stride length can be programmed as part of a users profile in the watch.
     
  11. TxWatch thread starter macrumors 6502

    TxWatch

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2015
    Location:
    Texas
    #11
    Your running log is about the same as mine. I average 100 miles/month or 1200 miles/year mostly without a GPS or tracking device because I run a very familiar route 3 to 4 times a week. I use my Garmin Forerunner when I am out of town for distance calculations in new locations. My wife uses a Fitbit, but I never really liked their devices because of their limited use.

    I am using the Fitbit App with the Mobile Tracker option to track my steps when I have my phone. I use the Sync Solver App to pull the steps from my Watch into Fitbit. My insurance automatically syncs with the Fitbit website, so I get my daily steps without too much effort. I would gladly get rid of the Fitbit App if Apple would create their own fitness tracking website. Seems like it would be easy for them and a perfect way to increase the sale of their Watches.

    As I mentioned above, I have a very old Garmin Forerunner 201 which is great for GPS tracking my runs. However, it is so old, there is no easy way to retrieve the information into a useful format. I was happy with it until my insurance company recently offered a $5 a day incentive to track my steps using one of the many fitness tracking sites. Since I have several Apple products, it made sense to look at the Watch as a way to get the incentive, plus I can play around with all of the other features it offers. So far, I am really impressed with the Watch, other than the calibration issue.

    By the way, which Bluetooth headphones are you using? The Plantronics Backbeat Fit and Jaybird X2 Sport look promising for runners. I have never run with music or an audio book in my ear, but I was considering giving it a try from my Watch.

    Thanks,

    TxWatch
     
  12. gsmornot macrumors 68030

    gsmornot

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2014
    #12
    I use the Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless. I have heard good things about the X2. I went with Beats because I wanted the ear hooks and the transmitter on the left ear, same side as my watch.
     
  13. exxxviii macrumors 65816

    exxxviii

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    #13
    If Apple did that, it would improve accuracy by orders of magnitude. My average stride length only varies by 0.01 to 0.02 meters on normal runs. If I could hard-code my stride length, the watch would be within 2% accurate, which I could live with.
    I have the Plantronics Backbeat Fit, and I totally love them. I hardly feel them, and I can hear my surroundings well. The only other option I considered was the Beats Powerbeats2. I got the Plantronics because I had a great deal, and they seemed a little more compact (no dangling lanyard in front).
     
  14. TxWatch thread starter macrumors 6502

    TxWatch

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2015
    Location:
    Texas
    #14
    I agree and I would live with a small inconsistency, as well. However, if they are going to allow us to enter it manually, how much more work is required to use the simple distance / step calculations we all thought they were using? In other words, if they are going to allow a manual number, then why not have the watch calculate the number when the GPS is connected. This seems much more accurate than asking people to measure their stride length for themselves using a different GPS or some other manual method.

    From what I have seen, the watch workout app in standalone mode is using a default stride length based on some pre-determined number. The fact that mine is off by a factor of 1.22 - 1.26 and I am shorter than average tells me is it probably based on an overall stride length, not one based on my height.

    For those who say their accuracy is better than mine, it is probably because you consistently run with a stride length close to the pre-determined number, so your standalone tracking "seems" to be accurate.

    I will look into the Powerbeats2, as well. I use my left hand, so having the transmitter on the same side of my head may be beneficial based on previous threads which indicate the Watch has a low power BT signal.

    Thanks,

    TxWatch
     
  15. gsmornot macrumors 68030

    gsmornot

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2014
    #15
    I should have said a bit more. I used the transmitter side in my selection process for the same reason you mentioned, I read the BT range was low. I'm not sure if its my headphones or the watch but the range is well over what I expected. Some said the sound would drop on the brand headphone they were using if their watch was on the other hand or below their waist. I don't find any of that to be the case with this pairing. Sound never drops out during a workout. Sometimes for whatever reason my selected playlist (you can only have one on the watch) will play the same song over and over but that is fixed or worked around by force touch and selecting shuffle all. Sometimes I can hit the playlist play button and the songs play one after another. I don't know why but its best to just shuffle so you're not messing with it and running at the same time. This is something you will have to figure out too no matter what brand you go with.
     
  16. exxxviii macrumors 65816

    exxxviii

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    #16
    This is exactly what Apple says the watch does-- it is supposed to determine your stride length from the GPS and then use that after about 20 minutes of calibration time. In my humble opinion, it is not working as described.
     
  17. gsmornot macrumors 68030

    gsmornot

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2014
    #17
    I read too that after the calibration, even when you have your phone with you, the stride is used. In other words it will only collect from the phone the first time. Having it with you on a run will not improve the results. Cycling however will use GPS throughout the ride. It will grab points in intervals to update since your arm has very little movement while riding. Wonder what would happen if I ran with my phone and used cycling mode. Not going to try because its ridiculous and I don't want to take my phone any longer but I'm curious anyhow.
     
  18. TxWatch thread starter macrumors 6502

    TxWatch

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2015
    Location:
    Texas
    #18
    Hmmm, I have not noticed that one. My phone is usually within BT range of my Watch during the day, except for the days I run without my phone. I will go back and look at the Activity App, but it may be hard to tell because I normally run at 6:30 am. I am standing/moving near my phone during the 6:00 am hour and I am back before the 7:00 am hour has completely passed.

    Thanks for the heads up,

    TxWatch
     
  19. exxxviii macrumors 65816

    exxxviii

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    #19
    Apple's web site states that "whenever you walk or run outside using your iPhone and the Workout app, your Apple Watch continues to calibrate the accelerometer by learning your stride length at different speeds." So, Apple seems to state that the watch continuously, dynamically refines the calibration all the time the phone is present.
     
  20. gsmornot macrumors 68030

    gsmornot

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2014
    #20
    Good to have clarification. Thanks. Still leaving the phone at home though. I really enjoy having just the watch and wireless headphones.
     
  21. mpfuchs macrumors regular

    mpfuchs

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2014
    Location:
    VA
    #21
    I only noticed when I watched TV in the evening and got up without carrying the phone. It would not count my minute towards the move goal. I tried it several times since. No phone, no counted minute.
     
  22. gsmornot macrumors 68030

    gsmornot

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2014
    #22
    It will count the minute without the phone. When you get up and move make it for one full minute and make sure your arm is not in a position that is similar to sitting. You should get up but next time for kicks, just hold your arm up and wag it back and forth for 60 seconds. You get the same credit because you moved. You should get up but it just shows you do not need the phone with you. I leave my phone on my desk most of the day.
     
  23. TxWatch thread starter macrumors 6502

    TxWatch

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2015
    Location:
    Texas
    #23
    You make a good point. My standing for a minute works just fine without my phone on me, but I am normally in BT or WiFi range of the phone. I thought his first comment was it did not work when he was outside the range of his phone. Since he clarified it later, I think your are correct that he is not moving for a full minute.

    I have had it miss my movement a couple of times, so now I make sure I swing my arms when I get up to move around for 1 minute.

    TxWatch
     
  24. michaelb5000 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    #24
    I don't run so the accuracy of tracking that doesn't matter to me, but I am curious about this. How would the Watch know "speed" without the phone? Is it tracking cadence, so steps per minute, and is that directly correlated with speed in a way that it could tell the difference between walking fast and running slow? I did the same walk two days in row, one without the phone and one with the phone swinging in my hand, the first came in at 1.36m and the second 1.4. I have used handheld GPS for 10+ years for biking and hiking and GPS will always have error too, particularly if it loses track of the sky and if you turn. So variation happens with GPS too, unless an app can be MAP or route aware and adjust based on a position on the map.
     
  25. exxxviii macrumors 65816

    exxxviii

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    #25
    I have not found anything Apple has published on this. So, here is my speculation based on using other devices, my running experience, and how I would try to do it...

    It is probably based on both cadence and what you are telling the device you are doing. When you tell it you are doing an outdoor walk, it is both calibrating based on your walking dynamics, and using your previously calibrated walking factors. Ditto when you tell it you are running. Also, it can use cadence to get a sense of whether you are running or walking. For example, my regular walking cadence is around 110 steps per minute. My slightly accelerated walk is probably around 115 to 120 steps per minute. My running cadence is 175 to 180 steps per minute. My hunch is that I probably shift to a slow run around 130 to 140 steps per minute-- I have not actually looked at my watch to know for sure, but at some point, it gets hard to maintain a walk at a high cadence. And much north of 120 steps per minute starts to get fast for a walk.
     

Share This Page