Overcoming AW's lack of GPS

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by darkenedhue, Oct 28, 2015.

  1. darkenedhue macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2012
    Hey everyone, hoping some people could help me out with this...

    I'm seriously looking at the AW for health and fitness and not really interested in many of the other features. If I was to do so, I'd stop taking my iPhone with me during runs, rides etc. However, in Australia, the AW Sport 42mm is a crazy $579, and I'm struggling to justify a fitness tracker that doesn't has GPS at that price.

    So my question is this: Is there a workaround where a GPS device via bluetooth device could be paired with the AW, and thus bridging this gap? I've seen several lightweight options that could easily be slipped into a pocket and can operate for 8-10 hours easily.

    I'm assuming no, as everything that I have read only mentions heart rate monitors, headphones and of course, an iPhone that can be paired to it. However, I've never had it confirmed. Apple store employees seem to know very little about the technical specifications of this device, the OS features, and implications for 3rd party apps for WatchOS 2.

    Keen to see responses.
  2. exxxviii macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2015
    If health and fitness is your top priority, then the AW may not be a good choice. What kind of activities do you do? And, what devices are you using today that you like?

    I have not read of anything that will enable watch apps to use GPS like it does for an iPhone app or dedicated GPS-based fitness watch.

    The other gap is that the AW's native apps - Activity - barely meet the minimums of what most people expect from a fitness software stack. So, you would have to find a third party app you like for the watch that links to a more robust mobile app and web app for activity analysis.
  3. Newtons Apple, Oct 28, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2015

    Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Like another has said if the fitness aspect is the most important thing . . . well the AW may not meet your needs.

    As far as GPS, I was sad that Apple could not even let the watch read the GPS on the iPhone. There are apps that will do what you want but only on your iPhone. Apps for the watch are not coming out as fast as I would like to see. The developers seem to avoid doing much for the watch, the few I have tried would not work.

    I am back to my Fitbit Charge HR with my S+ and with it's software it will map your run via GPS and is very accurate. My AW live in my dresser drawer now.

    The Apple Watch is still a great device.
  4. darkenedhue thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2012
    My main focus is running and cycling, but I'm hoping to get back into strength based exercises as well.

    ATM I'm not using any specific fitness tracker beyond my iPhone. I've used chest straps before which I detest and never fit well, so I'm trying to avoid them at all costs. As for investigating alternatives, the design aspects of the fitbits, jawbones etc are just pure ugly. And the aesthetics of sport watches don't suit my tastes either. I want something that functions well and doesn't look cheap and plastic-y.

    Maybe I'm asking too much and I should wait for Apple Watch 2, but I'd be very surprised if GPS is included in the new version or in fact ever!
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I have a fitbit surge which has a GPS. Now the fitbit has a battery rating of a week under normal circumstances but only 7 hours if you run the GPS continually. Given that bit of info, I'd say one major reason on not having a GPS is the amount of power it needs to draw.

    I do wish the AW had a GPS but I can understand why they opted not to have it. The AW imo is a lifestyle product not a fitness product. It has some fitness features but its main purpose is not fitness. I'd look for another watch that better fits your needs.
  6. exxxviii macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2015
    Depending on your taste, you may have trouble finding fashionable and fully functional sport & fitness GPS watch. The one that might work for you is the Garmin Fenix 3. That is a great running, cycling, hiking, etc. GPS watch. And a lot of people like the looks. It has some basic smart watch features like notifications and apps.
  7. Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    There is so much wearable stuff heading to us that it will be hard to make a choice. Garmin and TomTom have some great new products out there.
  8. Frogfoot macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2015
    The short answer is that, as far as I can tell, my AW can (usefully) use bluetooth to communicate with headphones and iPhones only.

    To be frank, I've seen a lot of people posting here who've tried to use AW as specifically a fitness device, and most of them seem to have ended up disappointed. For my part, I'm interested in fitness only as far as basic health requirements go, and so the AW does as much as I want it to: it gives a rough answer to the question "how much work did I do?". If you want anything very much more than that--if you care much about the precision of HR or distance, for example, or if you want a wide range of statistics--then it's probably not for you. I do think Apple oversold the fitness features of the device, which really are quite basic.

    If you don't want the non-fitness functions of the Apple Watch, I also think the value proposition here is very much doubtful. Obviously I don't know how much aesthetic features are worth to you, but as far as fitness goes the devices others have already recommended will do substantially more for substantially less.
  9. gsmornot macrumors 68030


    Sep 29, 2014
    So, I wonder why we can't communicate with a Bluetooth GPS receiver from our watches. You can add one to the iPhone or iPad so why not the watch. It could be a small, rechargeable device that you clip on your shirt or add to your wrist or whatever that while using it will give you GPS. It would preserve your watch battery and be available for runs or walks or whatever. It would not need to cost much since it would only be a receiver with the information display being on the watch face.
  10. igrover macrumors regular


    Jun 9, 2007
    Check out the new Garmin Forerunner 235. It is an optical heart rate gps watch that has added cycling to its running activity tracking. Has many of the features the Fenix 3 has at a much lower price.

    I agree with the comments above - the Apple Watch is just not ready for prime time fitness/activity functionality at this time. Better to purchase something that will actually work.
  11. BlueMoon63 macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2015
    You might benefit from the new Microsoft Band that has GPS and can somehow tell if you are lifting weights and looks pretty nice and won't weigh your arm down like some of the devices mentioned. :)

    I'm in agreement with everyone else here in that the AW is not the device to get if your primary usage is fitness and tracking workouts by distance and cycling. Of course you can bring your phone with to get accurate GPS, but I wouldn't want to need to bring another device to listen to music and track my workout with GPS.
  12. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    I "overcame" this issue by just continuing to use my GPS enabled running watch and left my AW for every day uses. AW is terrible for anything more than casual fitness monitoring. But it's a useful device otherwise. I've certainly come to enjoy mine after I figured out how to incorporate it in my life. Once you do that you can't live w/o it. But its definitely the least intuitive Apple device I've ever used and that goes back to early 80s.
  13. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015
    The question I've got is, what do you really need GPS for?

    The lone GPS-only thing I've done -- that is, I couldn't do it any other way -- was tracing my route onto a map so I could show it off later.

    As time went on, I quit caring about having other people see where I've been.

    I'm also not heavily invested in any single fitness tracking service, so I'm not worried about abandoning years of aggregated workout data.

    When you have an answer to this question, you can make a much clearer decision.
  14. Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Heck, Apple could have, at least, even made the watch be able to use the GPS built into our iPhones for mapping purposes but they did not. Does not seem like it would have been hard to do.
  15. Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida

    I am not wanting to map my runs for anyone except me. I have NOT quit caring and wish to keep a record of my runs.
  16. lordhamster macrumors 6502a

    Jan 23, 2008
    I'm not a runner or anything, but when I do go for a walk/run, I have my phone with me anyway.
  17. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    I know that the technology isn't quite there yet, but to me, this is the Holy Grail of wearable computing -- a device that allows me to leave my phone behind when I go for a walk/run.
  18. ForkHandles macrumors regular


    Jun 8, 2012
    What I like about the forerunner 235 is that it also handles notifications from text, email, calendar, photo stream and reminders. Oh and the battery lasts for a week on one charge even with a GPS. Apple Watch Two really needs to grow up as the Garmin does everything people use AW for (notifications) at half the price. Go on Apple, raise the game.
  19. jasie02, Jan 3, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2016

    jasie02 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 18, 2014
    I would prefer Apple come up with a thin BT bracelet similar physical design with Fitbit Flex's separated tracker/wristband design, except battery is inside of wristband instead of tracker, so we could have multiple wristband with one use and one in charger, and no need to must provide week long battery, maybe at least 3-4 days each charge even with heavy GPS-connection/data-recording will be good. They could even design several different version of tracker, medical FDA approved 24/7 data recording and able to upload data or send alert through AW/iPhone, waterproof runner/cycling/hiking/outdoor gps data recording, sleep tracking with very accurate almost professional result sleep pattern recording sensors.....
    This tracker only need minimum electronic, since AW will have everything else, so battery life could be longer compared with if integrated with AW, and cost could be lower for non-medical and non-pro, but they could charged $$$$$ for medical and pro, and different type of need will drive different buyer, so Apple don't have to design a one for all AW or one for all bracelet.
    Apple could go crazy with functionality as more type of buyer is in need, since battery charge will be none issue, and separated model will allow them to introduce any type of activity, even professional model for other pro use, and sell their AW since AW is needed, and sell their iPhone since iPhone is also needed.

    Some people will say they want Apple to use diagnostic port on AW, but I don't want it personally. I would prefer my AW still has 2 days life without shorten it, and a separated small wearable device with it's own battery to handle other activity, so I could count on my AW for other daily use, most important right-on-time-never-missed notifications.

    I will have no problem wearing one watch and one thin bracelet in good taste. With lots of people already wear Fitbit and Jawbone bracelet, it is almost becoming normal right now with activity type of people.

    This will ensure battery of AW will not be exhausted due to constant GPS connection required, or constant data recording need for 24/7 medical recording, or GPS+Data recording for runner/cycling/hiking, or night long data recording for sleep pattern recording. This will also ensure we might not have to upgrade bracelet when upgrade AW or iPhone, but we might be interested in getting different type of bracelets tracker.
  20. Applenoob34 macrumors 6502

    Feb 18, 2014
    Another vote for the Garmin 235 here. I've had an Apple Watch since launch but recently picked up the 235 as gps accuracy is way better. If your serious at all about running and accurate distances, then the AW won't cut it.

    If you don't really care for accurate distances and just run for a time limit, then the AW is fine. The AW watch is definitely a better daily driver.
  21. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015
    Agreed, although my Garmin is the now-discontinued 410.

    That said, my AW is my daily driver. I don't take running seriously (what's "serious running", anyway? Running while frowning?) and the AW is more comfortable, more aesthetically versatile, and just plain better for my day-to-day usage. It's a better fitness watch than my Seiko and a better office watch than the Garmin.
  22. Mtblegend macrumors newbie


    Aug 10, 2015
    My 2 cents
    I have Apple Watch Sport and I go running about 4 times a week. If you run with the watch and iPhone together for the first few runs it should calibrate so that the watch is fairly accurate even when running without the iPhone.
    Personally when I go running I use mapmyrun app on my watch and take my iPhone with me too. The app on my watch allows me to start my run check distance etc. I never look at my iPhone until I get home. Works pretty well for me. I do this as I much prefer mapmyrun to Apple fitness app. I do agree that I would prefer Gps on watch but my setup works well at the moment
  23. Julien macrumors G4


    Jun 30, 2007

    "The first time I see a jogger smiling, I'll consider it" - Joan Rivers
  24. jmmo20 macrumors 65816

    Jun 15, 2006

    see, i don't care how much power GPS uses.. it would only be used in very specific circumstances so I think it's an acceptable trade off. I returned my AW because I found lack of GPS a total delabreaker and won't buy another AW until they include GPS....
  25. Armen macrumors 604


    Apr 30, 2013
    If you are serious about fitness tracking than the Apple watch is not for you.

Share This Page