Pretty huge discrepancy between distance on watch and phone...

hokiemas

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Original poster
May 26, 2015
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So, I'm not a big workout buff, but I do like to know how far I've walked at the end of each day. Yesterday, I looked on my watch (achievements), and it said I had walked something like 3.14 miles. My phone (Health app) said I had walked over 4. Why would there be a mile difference between the devices? Is there a better app to get more accurate distance traveled with the watch? Should I be using the workout app with an open goal? Not a big deal for me personally, but the difference did seem kind of glaring.
 

Newtons Apple

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The two will never agree. Neither are correct. I know the exact distance I take a walk and the only device that has hit the distance within 5% is my Fitbit Surge with GPS. Just use the watch and iPhone for reference as that is all they are good for.
 

hokiemas

macrumors member
Original poster
May 26, 2015
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The two will never agree. Neither are correct. I know the exact distance I take a walk and the only device that has hit the distance within 5% is my Fitbit Surge with GPS. Just use the watch and iPhone for reference as that is all they are good for.
I guess I could just average the two. Maybe that will be closer.
 

hokiemas

macrumors member
Original poster
May 26, 2015
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That is a as good as a method as I could come up with. The Apple wTch needs a GPS or the good sense to use the iPhone's GPS.
I'm surprised it doesn't use the phones GPS. What does it do? Count the number of arm swings? That seems kind of inaccurate. It piggybacks the phone for a ton of other features. Why not GPS?
 

HopefulHumanist

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Jan 28, 2015
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I'm surprised it doesn't use the phones GPS. What does it do? Count the number of arm swings? That seems kind of inaccurate. It piggybacks the phone for a ton of other features. Why not GPS?
Battery life. Even when you do outdoor running or walking workouts with your phone, it only uses the GPS sparingly with a low sampling rate and attempts to use accelerometer data in combination with GPS samples to calculate your average stride.
 

BarracksSi

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My Health and Activity apps and my Watch are all in agreement, including both step count and distance. Is your Watch among the devices under Sources in your Health app?
 

deadandalive

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Apr 25, 2015
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My watch is very accurate when I am walking.

I walk around a 1/4 mile Track and the Watch is very close to that every time.

I do always have the phone in my pocket because I am listening to music while walking, so I dont know if that is why it is accurate
 

BarracksSi

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I'll add that I've logged a dozen-ish "workouts" during my walking commute, which is just longer than the 20 minutes recommended by Apple for calibration. I've used it on many longer walks with my wife, too.
 

Mascots

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Sep 5, 2009
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Mine are often off by about .02-.03 mi which isn't very much, and probably attributable to me walking around with my phone in the morning and evening without my watch.
 

NastyComputers

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Aug 14, 2010
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Tehachapi CA
So, I'm not a big workout buff, but I do like to know how far I've walked at the end of each day. Yesterday, I looked on my watch (achievements), and it said I had walked something like 3.14 miles. My phone (Health app) said I had walked over 4. Why would there be a mile difference between the devices? Is there a better app to get more accurate distance traveled with the watch? Should I be using the workout app with an open goal? Not a big deal for me personally, but the difference did seem kind of glaring.
Could it be because you were walking around the house before you went on your walk? The health app is always counting your steps if it's on you so you could have gotten some steps in before you started the watch for your walk. I always use the Nike+ app for running or walking workouts. Just seems to be the best at tracking and logging all of your miles.
 

Newtons Apple

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Battery life. Even when you do outdoor running or walking workouts with your phone, it only uses the GPS sparingly with a low sampling rate and attempts to use accelerometer data in combination with GPS samples to calculate your average stride.
No buying the battery life as a reason the 6 or 6+ does not use GPS. More than enough battery for a 30 minute run several times a day. I think Apple just did not have time to integrate it or choose not to do so. As I have heard that Apple has still not done so in OS2, I suspect they are going to leave it up to the app writers to do so.

There are many apps out there now that will map your run or walk with GPS with remarkable detail. I miss this feature from using the Fitbit Surge, but then it had built in GPS.
 

Newtons Apple

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I'm surprised it doesn't use the phones GPS. What does it do? Count the number of arm swings? That seems kind of inaccurate. It piggybacks the phone for a ton of other features. Why not GPS?
Do not use arm swings. Uses actual steps you take with the iPhone assisting in calibrating your gait via the iPhone GPS. Not very accurate compared to using GPS all the time while on a run or walk.
 

BarracksSi

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I don't like the idea of using GPS more often. Comparing the phone battery drain using AW's Outdoor Walk mode and the Nike+ Run phone app, the Nike+ sucks down battery like it's cool. The AW-plus-phone was much more battery friendly.

IMO, the best use of a GPS map post-workout is to share your route later. I've only been mapping my runs and bike rides for a few years and the coolest thing I've done with a map was to spell out "MOM" in a field on a Mother's Day jog. Besides that, I haven't cared to pore over the maps for my own benefit.
 

burgman

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Sep 24, 2013
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I'm surprised it doesn't use the phones GPS. What does it do? Count the number of arm swings? That seems kind of inaccurate. It piggybacks the phone for a ton of other features. Why not GPS?
My watch and phone are very close but phone is usually higher from walking around without watch. Do you have calibration turned on in location settings?
 

HopefulHumanist

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Jan 28, 2015
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No buying the battery life as a reason the 6 or 6+ does not use GPS. More than enough battery for a 30 minute run several times a day. I think Apple just did not have time to integrate it or choose not to do so. As I have heard that Apple has still not done so in OS2, I suspect they are going to leave it up to the app writers to do so.

There are many apps out there now that will map your run or walk with GPS with remarkable detail. I miss this feature from using the Fitbit Surge, but then it had built in GPS.
You're welcome to believe what you want but battery life is definitely the reason they made the choice they did. However long your battery lasts with GPS, it lasts longer without it and it's not always convenient to charge their phone right after a workout. Like I said earlier, outdoor workouts use the GPS for sampling which it correlates to data gathered by the accelerometer. This is why indoor workouts tell you to workout outside for 20 min to calibrate the data. So if 10 arm swings = 0.1 miles, then it uses that formula to estimate your total distance. It's definitely not the most accurate but it does save battery life and works with and without the phone, which is beneficial as the watch lacks GPS.
 

exxxviii

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May 20, 2015
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No buying the battery life as a reason the 6 or 6+ does not use GPS. More than enough battery for a 30 minute run several times a day.
You're welcome to believe what you want but battery life is definitely the reason they made the choice they did. However long your battery lasts with GPS, it lasts longer without it and it's not always convenient to charge their phone right after a workout.
A 90 minute run with Runkeeper on the phone and watch drains less than 10% battery on an iPhone 6. Most people do not exercise for that long, so the GPS battery drain for a workout would not be material for most people. If battery life was the sole reason, it was not a very good reason. I wish Apple gave users the choice or had the intelligence to use GPS when available and use steps when GPS was not available.
 
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Newtons Apple

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A 90 minute run with Runkeeper on the phone and watch drains less than 10% battery on an iPhone 6. Most people do not exercise for that long, so the GPS battery drain for a workout would not be material for most people. If battery life was the sole reason, it was not a very good reason. I wish Apple gave users the choice or had the intelligence to use GPS when available and use steps when GPS was not available.
Thanks but I think that I agree with you. How hard would it have been for Apple to allow the iPhone GPS to integrate with the Apple Watch? What is worst is they still do not do it in IOS9 or Watch OS2 from what I have read.
 
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Newtons Apple

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You're welcome to believe what you want but battery life is definitely the reason they made the choice they did. However long your battery lasts with GPS, it lasts longer without it and it's not always convenient to charge their phone right after a workout. Like I said earlier, outdoor workouts use the GPS for sampling which it correlates to data gathered by the accelerometer. This is why indoor workouts tell you to workout outside for 20 min to calibrate the data. So if 10 arm swings = 0.1 miles, then it uses that formula to estimate your total distance. It's definitely not the most accurate but it does save battery life and works with and without the phone, which is beneficial as the watch lacks GPS.

LOL! Why would you need to charge you iPhone battery after a run? You are not really dealing with the facts here as the GPS use will not come close to running your iPhone battery down. There is no reason or excuse for Apple in not integrating the GPS data with the watch.
 

Mascots

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So what's the complaint here? That GPS isn't always active and recording every single path you take (incl. when not exercising)? Or that steps are misaligned with what the phone reports? Because throwing in GPS won't just 'fix' the latter; the discrepancy is most likely getting counted elsewhere, not because the Watch is calculating less steps than the phone at the same time since that information is hashed together in Health Book (right?).

But, that's based on my experience where Health Book and Activity consistently report similar numbers, though.

It's important to remember that arm swings aren't the only thing getting counted as you walk; the  Watch and iPhone are sensitive enough to feel the impact of your foot on the ground and that, among other things including arm swing, is a contributor to how stride is determined, too. However, while having an always active GPS would give you the best results, bringing down the interval is a good way to win on a lot of fronts with acceptable tradeoff. There is no such thing as right or wrong unless you don't understand the complexities of the system as a whole.

Then again, we don't have all of the facts that go into determining how they come up with numbers, let alone why they chose to generate those numbers. Example, for all we know, when the iPhone switches towers, it could trigger a GPS fetch and update with the distance and stride formulas on the Watch since it wouldn't have to explicitly activate the GPS chip (If you don't do this, do it Apple).

Of course, all I say is speculation. How would I know? :eek:
 
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mac8867

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Apr 5, 2010
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The Apple Watch, for me at least, is not a strong enough tool for measuring workouts. Just try this the next time to walk/run, swing your arms faster and a little bit more exaggerated. You will be amazed that you covered less ground. For competitive training, it's not the device of choice.
 

exxxviii

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So what's the complaint here? That GPS isn't always active and recording every single path you take (incl. when not exercising)? Or that steps are misaligned with what the phone reports?
The thread branched. The original complaint is that the Activity and Health apps show different distances. That seems like it should not happen, but it apparently does for some.

The branch is a complaint that Apple does not use the phone's GPS when available for more accurate distances (and mapping). Some folks argue that Apple does not use phone GPS because of battery, but users who are using phone GPS with apps like Runkeeper, Strava, Nike+, etc., know that GPS is not a major battery burner on an iPhone 6 or 6+. It burns more, but it would be nice to at least have the choice. For example what if Workout had a Run with GPS and Run without GPS as its two options instead of indoor and outdoor. Wouldn't that be both more intuitive and more useful?
 
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Night Spring

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For example what if Workout had a Run with GPS and Run without GPS as its two options instead of indoor and outdoor. Wouldn't that be both more intuitive and more useful?
Reading this just made me realize something. Outdoor Run/Walk/Cycling Workouts DO use iPhone GPS -- to calibrate distance. What the Watch doesn't do is provide GPS mapping functions. Which I'm guessing Apple decided against doing because it's one extra thing to do, and you know, all those one extra things pile up if they keep taking them on, so they have to cut them off somewhere. And since there are many 3rd party apps that provide very good GPS mapping functions, my guess is Apple won't be in any hurry to make their own version. And as long as they don't do GPS mapping, it's not a good idea to call the Workouts "with GPS," because when people see that, they will likely confuse it with GPS mapping, and would get mad when it only calculates distance but doesn't show a map.
 
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BarracksSi

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Reading this just made me realize something. Outdoor Run/Walk/Cycling Workouts DO use iPhone GPS -- to calibrate distance. What the Watch doesn't do is provide GPS mapping functions.
I was wondering when you guys were going to remember this.
ImageUploadedByTapatalk1440531080.757481.jpg
 

Newtons Apple

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I was wondering when you guys were going to remember this.
View attachment 577186
Remeber what?
The iPhone's GPS does nothing except "help" calibrate the watch. The GPS on my iPhone is quite accurate and it would have been nice if it would share that with the watch for mapping purposes. Not that big of a thing for Apple to get the two devices to play nice with each other.
 
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