Running - GPS/BT

PBz

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Nov 3, 2005
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I have a question about out running outdoors with AW4 and using just GPS from the watch.
From what I have read, the only way to force the AW to use its own GPS is to not have the iPhone with you or to disable BT on the iPhone. From my research, the GPS accuracy is greater from just the AW.

If that is the case, then it means I cannot stream music from my iPhone to (non-LTE) AW during runs. In order to stream music I would have to turn on iPhone BT and then the iPhone’s GPS would be used.

It seems like the only option would be to have the cellular version of the AW to be able to leave the iPhone at home.

Is this correct?

I was trying to dip my feet back in the AW4 pool (converted to Garmin) but didn’t want to spend extra $$ for cellular.
[doublepost=1554304131][/doublepost]Can I disable BT on the AW?
Sorry, it’s been awhile since using and cannot remember. I think BT can be disabled on the AW.

If that is the case, I could buy the GPS version and disable BT on the AW during a run and still stream music from iPhone to BT headphones..
 

Significant1

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Dec 20, 2014
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Not sure I agree that gps on watch is better than on phone.

I am not sure what you want to stream, but you can store about 8GB of offline music on the watch and listen directly from the watch.

You cannot disable BT on the Watch and you cannot disconnect the Watch Afaik from the phone, if BT is on (unless you have two Watches paired to the phone. In which case you can manually select which one to be active).

I wonder what would happen if you leave the watch connected to iPhone, but turn off location services:
https://support.apple.com/guide/iphone/set-which-apps-know-your-location-iph3dd5f9be/ios
Will the watch enable its own gps or will it refuse to track your position. Well I just did a quick test. The built-in workout app, just run without tracking position and a thirdparty workout app, told to enable location access for it to work..
 
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matrix07

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Jun 24, 2010
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Series 4 let you store music at 8 GB I believe.

Not sure why the watch won’t let you turn off Bluetooth but if you can’t, simply turn your iPhone Bluetooth off or put it in airplane mode, will get the same effect .. disconnecting your watch.
(You can pair Bluetooth headphone to your watch instead. )
 

PBz

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Not sure I agree that gps on watch is better than on phone.

I am not sure what you want to stream, but you can store about 8GB of offline music on the watch and listen directly from the watch.

You cannot disable BT on the Watch and you cannot disconnect the Watch Afaik from the phone, if BT is on (unless you have two Watches paired to the phone. In which case you can manually select which one to be active).

I wonder what would happen if you leave the watch connected to iPhone, but turn off location services:
https://support.apple.com/guide/iphone/set-which-apps-know-your-location-iph3dd5f9be/ios
Will the watch enable its own gps or will it refuse to track your position. Well I just did a quick test. The built-in workout app, just run without tracking position and a thirdparty workout app, told to enable location access for it to work..
Much testing that has been done by people that review smart/activity watches have said that GPS results seem better when isolating the GPS on the watch.
[doublepost=1554316118][/doublepost]Can you do activities in Airplane mode?
 

Significant1

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Dec 20, 2014
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Much testing that has been done by people that review smart/activity watches have said that GPS results seem better when isolating the GPS on the watch.
[doublepost=1554316118][/doublepost]Can you do activities in Airplane mode?
Are your sources a secret since you don't refer to them. I have read dcrainmaker test som time back. Anyway it is not my personal experience there is no problem with the phone gps. I just compared a 10km walk I did yesterday carrying my phone with a previous walk with only. I really can't say one is better than the other. That is iPhone 6s and 40mm S4 using workoutdoors. But I do miss some control of sampling rate.

Yes you can do activities in Airplane mode. So I guess you could put the watch in airplane mode and use its own gps, while still have BT enabled on iPhone.
 

PBz

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Are your sources a secret since you don't refer to them. I have read dcrainmaker test som time back. Anyway it is not my personal experience there is no problem with the phone gps. I just compared a 10km walk I did yesterday carrying my phone with a previous walk with only. I really can't say one is better than the other. That is iPhone 6s and 40mm S4 using workoutdoors. But I do miss some control of sampling rate.

Yes you can do activities in Airplane mode. So I guess you could put the watch in airplane mode and use its own gps, while still have BT enabled on iPhone.
Thank you. No secret sources.. just some of the major reviewers and I don’t remember who said what. I remember tests being done to isolate the watch GPS. The iPhone does have same GPS ‘access’ such as GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo so it makes sense the iPhone could be as accurate. I do know that I can look at Google Maps and the blue dot is eerily close to exactly where I am in my house.
 

NoBoMac

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Jul 1, 2014
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Not a watch owner, so, WAG...

Instead of Airplane Mode, why not just turn off GPS on the phone (guessing possible since watch is basically relying on Bluetooth)?
 

Significant1

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Dec 20, 2014
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Not a watch owner, so, WAG...

Instead of Airplane Mode, why not just turn off GPS on the phone (guessing possible since watch is basically relying on Bluetooth)?
That is what I tested. But doesn't work, because it works as location access permission and is shared with the watch. So when you disable access to location on phone, access is also denied on watch.
 

coldwaves

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May 30, 2011
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Thank you. No secret sources.. just some of the major reviewers and I don’t remember who said what. I remember tests being done to isolate the watch GPS. The iPhone does have same GPS ‘access’ such as GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo so it makes sense the iPhone could be as accurate. I do know that I can look at Google Maps and the blue dot is eerily close to exactly where I am in my house.
My experience is that the GPS data from the watch and the phone are fairly comparable. I have used Strava just on watch or just on phone to record activity on the same route that I usually run. Then I can download the GPX file from Strava and plot the route. The two are almost identical. However, if I use the workout app on the Watch (without phone nearby) to record activity and get the data by exporting health record, it appears that the GPS data were rounded to four digits for storage on the Phone. My guess is that iPhone and Apple Watch first record raw GPS data (more digits but noisy) and then used that raw data to generate route map and statistics. After all are done, they only store the rounded data and summary.

Therefore, I think the raw data used to calculate activity statistics are fairly comparable but if the data are pulled from Health app for comparison, some of these discrepancies can arise because data are rounded and not precisely the raw data.
 
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mk313

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Feb 6, 2012
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I agree with those who say the accuracy of the phone vs the watch is very comparable. I've run the same route several times per week for the last 9 years. First with my iPhone, then with my apple watch Series 2 & now Series 3. I get almost the exact same measurements every time.
 

PBz

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I agree with those who say the accuracy of the phone vs the watch is very comparable. I've run the same route several times per week for the last 9 years. First with my iPhone, then with my apple watch Series 2 & now Series 3. I get almost the exact same measurements every time.
Thank you to everyone for the feedback. I gave in to a flawless AW4 SS listing and it will be here late this week. I plan to compare the GPS to my Garmin, with and without the iPhone. The iPhone has access to all the same satellites so what you are saying makes sense.

.. was stoked.. the seller even knew about the display uneven lighting issue and gave images of watches he returned versus the one he kept. My kind of gadget person.
 
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Pseudo-Fed

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Apple and Garmin user here. Have two AW4 stainless models--one with cellular active (SS) and one not (SBSS) Also run with Garmin Instinct, Fenix 3, Fenix 5, and/or Fenix 5+. Though I'm older and just a casual runner, I like the metrics from the Garmins and appreciate my Stryd footpod and Garmin Tempe sensor.....geeking out.

The AW GPS is very much like Garmin in "Smart recording" GPS mode. And in fact Apple only has smart recording. Not quite as spot on as Garmin in "1 second" recording mode, but very good. The AW tracks will sometimes cut corners a bit more than the Garmin, but amazingly on 3-4 mile runs the distances are usually with .02 or .03 miles of each other, and the AW can be over or under the Garmin. Who knows which is right. Pace is also almost identical too.

I run with either AW4 cellular or not. With either one I've loaded a playlist onto the AW4 and I stream to my Plantronics Backbeat Fit headphones. I also generally use the AW workout app--it gives me all I need to see while running (with Garmin sometimes on other wrist.....:cool:.

You should be able to run with AW4 only, streaming to your headset of choice and relying on the watch's GPS. Good for most folks unless you are super competitive and need measured course accuracy. If you don't like the stock workout app on the AW, check out WorkOutDoors, which is arguably the most complete 3rd party AW app, including maps on screen if you like.

Edited to add: GPS accuracy will be better WITH the phone due to cellular triangulation. No doubt. Not even close. Way better than even Garmin.

Edited again to add: I also run with the Scosche Rythym Plus or 24 on my forearm for very accurate heartrate (like identical to Polar in my tests accurate). The Scosche units pair with the AW and Garmin simultaneously since they broadcast BT AND ANT+. Allows for consistent HR in both sets of data.

Good luck.
 
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Franz H

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May 27, 2016
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The AW GPS is very much like Garmin in "Smart recording" GPS mode. And in fact Apple only has smart recording. Not quite as spot on as Garmin in "1 second" recording mode, but very good.
Great info here. I use a Garmin 230, it's okay, but not as accurate as my old 301. Does your statement above imply that the refresh/accuracy of the AW is less? My 230 takes a long time to change when my pace does. My old 301 was very sensitive to pace changes and showed current pace to the nearest second. My 230 only shows current pace to the nearest 5 secs.

Thanks!
FH
 

Pseudo-Fed

macrumors 6502a
Jan 28, 2017
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Great info here. I use a Garmin 230, it's okay, but not as accurate as my old 301. Does your statement above imply that the refresh/accuracy of the AW is less? My 230 takes a long time to change when my pace does. My old 301 was very sensitive to pace changes and showed current pace to the nearest second. My 230 only shows current pace to the nearest 5 secs.

Thanks!
FH
Accurate current pace ("instant pace") requires frequent GPS sampling, and all consumer GPS devices struggle with this--some do better than others. The ABSOLUTE best current pace you will get (for competitive runners) is a foot pod well calibrated to your pace range and stride length. The foot pods don't even use GPS. For GPS devices however, you do need frequent GPS sampling to have a chance at accurate pace. Some devices claim to use accelerometers, gyros, blah blah blah to interpolate between GPS samples. This *should* be achievable given the Stryd footpad is about the most accurate device you can use for pace and even distance--WITHOUT gps.

I read a reviewer (maybe DC Rainmaker, and I'm NOT going back through his whole 50 page review!) state AW had smart recording. I did see the below recently which said Apple Watch SERIES 3 had 4 second interval recording. Smart recording can vary from 1 to 7 or more seconds, depending on what the software thinks is best. In my comparisons, AW3 and AW4 both had what looks like the "smart recording" gps intervals on Garmin.

https://www.cultofmac.com/554021/apple-watch-series-4-gps/
 

PBz

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Nov 3, 2005
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PVB, Florida
Apple and Garmin user here. Have two AW4 stainless models--one with cellular active (SS) and one not (SBSS) Also run with Garmin Instinct, Fenix 3, Fenix 5, and/or Fenix 5+. Though I'm older and just a casual runner, I like the metrics from the Garmins and appreciate my Stryd footpod and Garmin Tempe sensor.....geeking out.

The AW GPS is very much like Garmin in "Smart recording" GPS mode. And in fact Apple only has smart recording. Not quite as spot on as Garmin in "1 second" recording mode, but very good. The AW tracks will sometimes cut corners a bit more than the Garmin, but amazingly on 3-4 mile runs the distances are usually with .02 or .03 miles of each other, and the AW can be over or under the Garmin. Who knows which is right. Pace is also almost identical too.

I run with either AW4 cellular or not. With either one I've loaded a playlist onto the AW4 and I stream to my Plantronics Backbeat Fit headphones. I also generally use the AW workout app--it gives me all I need to see while running (with Garmin sometimes on other wrist.....:cool:.

You should be able to run with AW4 only, streaming to your headset of choice and relying on the watch's GPS. Good for most folks unless you are super competitive and need measured course accuracy. If you don't like the stock workout app on the AW, check out WorkOutDoors, which is arguably the most complete 3rd party AW app, including maps on screen if you like.

Edited to add: GPS accuracy will be better WITH the phone due to cellular triangulation. No doubt. Not even close. Way better than even Garmin.

Edited again to add: I also run with the Scosche Rythym Plus or 24 on my forearm for very accurate heartrate (like identical to Polar in my tests accurate). The Scosche units pair with the AW and Garmin simultaneously since they broadcast BT AND ANT+. Allows for consistent HR in both sets of data.

Good luck.
This is very helpful. Thank you. I am surprised that GPS accuracy is better with the phone. I have a F5 and just picked up a used AW4 SS that I couldn’t resist. I plan to test running with both to see how the GPS/HRM (optical only) compare. We also added a Peloton to the workout room so will test the HRMs with this as well. Past use tells me the AW4 will respond better to fast changes in HR. It is unfortunate I cannot broadcast my AW4 to the Peloton (it only syncs with ANT+ from what I have read).

I 2nd the app WorkOutDoors.. AWESOME app and bless the developer for letting us see GPS acquisition before starting an activity. I love the HR zones (created a custom screen for it) on the AW. For most runs I am focused on HR zone and pace primarily. I am NOT a ‘real’ runner. I run casual but love the data to keep me motivated.
 

Pseudo-Fed

macrumors 6502a
Jan 28, 2017
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This is very helpful. Thank you. I am surprised that GPS accuracy is better with the phone. I have a F5 and just picked up a used AW4 SS that I couldn’t resist. I plan to test running with both to see how the GPS/HRM (optical only) compare. We also added a Peloton to the workout room so will test the HRMs with this as well. Past use tells me the AW4 will respond better to fast changes in HR. It is unfortunate I cannot broadcast my AW4 to the Peloton (it only syncs with ANT+ from what I have read).

I 2nd the app WorkOutDoors.. AWESOME app and bless the developer for letting us see GPS acquisition before starting an activity. I love the HR zones (created a custom screen for it) on the AW. For most runs I am focused on HR zone and pace primarily. I am NOT a ‘real’ runner. I run casual but love the data to keep me motivated.
I find it hard to believe the Peloton receives ANT+, but if so, cool. Your F5 will broadcast HR in ANT+. HOWEVER, cycling involves wrist flexion, and wrist HR including Garmins is notoriously bad while cycling. I recommend the Scosche products (Rythm+ or Rhythm 24). They broadcast simultaneously in BT and ANT+, are very accurate and respond quickly to changes. Scosche should feed the Peloton fine.
 
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PBz

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I find it hard to believe the Peloton receives ANT+, but if so, cool. Your F5 will broadcast HR in ANT+. HOWEVER, cycling involves wrist flexion, and wrist HR including Garmins is notoriously bad while cycling. I recommend the Scosche products (Rythm+ or Rhythm 24). They broadcast simultaneously in BT and ANT+, are very accurate and respond quickly to changes. Scosche should feed the Peloton fine.
I only have 3 rides in but have been using the F5 to broadcast HR to the Peloton. I think it is pretty close to accurate, say 95%. My wrist is pretty stable. I know the arm band HRM will be better and I will eventually buy one. The main issue is response time for quick intervals. I am likely missing the top/bottom of curves but I would guess (knowing my max HR) I am within 5-10 bps for that 10-20 seconds. I know.. For now I am OK with ‘close’ for intervals until I spend the $80 on the band.I am really curious how much better the AW4 will do. I cannot broadcast it but I can compare it during a ride. From my experience with the AW4, it will likely be noticeably faster to respond than the Garmin.