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Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by iJcaP, Aug 2, 2015.
I'm curious to know if anyone owns both the Watch and a fitness tracker. How do you use both?
I have a Fitbit Zip. I used to carry both AW and Zip until I discovered that I can link the FB app to the phones M7 chip and use that for tracking instead of the Zip. I use the FB app platform for all tracking, since it is the only thing that can see and report on all of my activities. I use the AW's tracking just for fun and novelty value.
I actually still use a Fitbit One, Charge HR and a Surge along with my Apple Watch.
Main reasons for me: Fitbit allows multiple trackers to be synced so if I can't use my arms I can use my One, i can also use the Fitbit Surge for my GPS workouts and not use my phone or AW's batteries. Fitbit also has connections with services like Pact, Achievemint and others. I also like competing with my friends on there.
Lastly, this is my own theory, but I don't want to use the battery on the AW for fitness tracking activities. I do enough with it that I'd rather personally let a Fitbit (with it's own battery) do the tracking. After turning off the call/text notifications and music player features on my Charge HR and Surge their battery has improved (not by a huge margin since it is already good enough for me).
So I'm not the norm in this regards, but it fits fine for my life.
I wear my AW all day long but add my Fitbit Surge to my other wrist when going for excercise. The Fitbit is fantastic with GPS and an app that I wish Aplle would take a look at.
Other than sleep (which you have to enter manually into Apple's Health App) what can the FB app track that the Health app can't? I've been using a FItBit One for over 1.5 years and the Apple Watch for 2 weeks. Overall I think the FB app is better than Apple's trio of Acitivity, Workouts and Health (although Health is extremely powerful because it can pull data from so many different devices and apps... Just not FitBits). The FitBit doesn't track the frequency of standing, which studies show is an important health marker, but it does track sleep (which the AW cannot) and I think that is an even more important health marker. My FitBit One doesn't track heart rate either, but how important is that really for those of us who aren't training for competition? Still has some value to me on occasion. I suppose at 45 it's increasingly important for me to see if my workouts (mostly bike rides) are hitting my target heart rate zone without overdoing things too much.
I have found that both systems have their issues. The fitbit app has always been a bit buggy, but it keeps getting improved. I think Apple has a lot of catching up to do in both their app suite and the accuracy of tracking steps and stairs climbed. I walked up a 290 foot hill yesterday and the FB accurately recorded it as 29 flights. The AW recorded 12 flights. Both are supposed to convert 10 feet of elevation as one flight. I was not using the workouts app though. Perhaps I need to use that more often to continue calibrating the AW, but that should only improve steps and distance, not elevation gained.
I'm not a competitive athlete. I just use tracking to maintain a modest level of fitness and to lose a little weight. The Lose It app for calorie counting can update both FitBit and the Health app. Right now I feel like the FitBit system is more accurate for elevation and steps, but I prefer the visual feedback of the Apple Activity rings. Since each device offers something the other does not, I suppose I will continue to clip my FitBit One to my pocket and wear my Apple Watch on my wrist. I'm just glad I have the FitBit I can clip to my clothing since I don't want to wear a second device on my wrist (especially given that the FitBit wearables are not as elegant as the Apple Watch)
One thing I definitely prefer about the workouts app is that it takes fewer taps to start tracking my bike rides, and I can start, pause, resume and end all from the watch. I don't really like the FB for bike rides. This is an area where the Health app shines, because I can also use a full featured app like Strava or Nike to track bike rides and all that data gets sucked into the Health app. While the Health App is not as user friendly as the FitBit app, I do like that I can customize my personal Health Dashboard by picking from so many detailed metrics.
I suppose I will continue to use both until the AW system improves. At that point I will probably switch to using the FitBit for sleep tracking only.
It's not the difference in what the devices track that differentiates them so much as what they enable you to do with the information. In my humble opinion, activity capture is largely a commodity. It is just steps, heart rate, altitude, and sleep (or movement and heart rate during sleep). You can pick from many manufacturers that offer devices that capture one or more of the core list. The reason I keep using FB is the app stack-- that is the difference maker: social, challenges, manual activity entry, bi-directional data integration, integration with other devices, massively superior data visualization and analysis, calorie intake, etc.
Nice thing about using your Surge is that you can leave the iPhone behind an still have GPS tracking. That's probably really nice for runners. I prefer to carry my iPhone on bike rides. I just put it in the bag on my bike and wear the watch.
I have wondered about this as well. Based on only two weeks of observation it seems like my Apple Watch battery goes down about 3% or 4% per hour with normal activity. When I am using Workouts to track a bike ride it goes down about 6% per hour. So you could burn through almost 20% of battery for a 3 hour activity. I don't do that very often. With a full time job and kids I am lucky to get a one or two hour bike ride in every now and then. I do walk to work though, and if I track my round trip every day that's about an hour of activity tracking. Since I usually end up with between 10% and 40% battery left at the end of the day (usually closer to 40%) it's not a big concern for me.
Ah... I did not consider the social aspect of Fitbit, because that's not a feature I have ever used. It is something the Apple Watch health environment lacks though. I also consider the lack of native export options to be a fatal flaw with Apple Health (there are ways to do it, but nothing supported by Apple). I fully expect Apple to fix the data export thing. The data is there, exporting data is technically not difficult to do, so why not offer it? I'm guessing there is a legal reason. They are trying to figure out how to make it possible for people to share what they want without unintentionally oversharing since some of what Health can track might be considered HIPAA protected information in the United States. They are probably afraid someone is going to sue them because they didn't realize they shared something sensitive (blood pressure, blood glucose levels) when they only meant to share their activity levels.
Both systems support manual activity entry (although most users are not going to know how to do that with the Apple Health app), integration with other devices and apps, and bi-directional data integration. Apps like Lose-it, Strava and Nike+ can all share data with the Health app, so if you use a digital cyclometer tracking bike rides for Strava that data also gets imported into the Health app. Strava can also use the iPhone's GPS which is how I'm using it), and I also get nutrition data from Lose-It into both the Health App and the Fitbit app. The Health App and Fitbit app also share exercise data with Lose-It.
In my opinion the big problem with Apple's fitness tracking environment is the complexity. Three apps and a lot of configuration items to get everything syncing and displaying the way you want. The Health app itself is the least "Apple" looking piece of software I have ever seen come out of Cupertino. If you are a bit of a data geek the Health app is kind of cool... I like that I can see the raw data points and immediately know which device or app added that data. I think where Apple is going with the Health app is to turn it into the database that all other apps interact with... and that's exactly the way I think they should be going about it, but it is not a pretty app or a user-friendly one. I guess Apple thinks most people won't use or care about the advanced features of the Health app, and they will focus instead on just the Activity rings and Workouts... occasionally peeking at the default dashboard items in Health. Many people aren't even going to understand how the Activity, Health and Workouts apps work together. Meanwhile the Fitbit app, even with some of the bugs it has had in the past, is much easier and user-friendly. It's much more Apple-like. Anyone can open the Fitbit app and immediately understand it, which is one reason Fitbit products are so popular.
Technically yes, but functionally, no. This is one of the major problem areas for the Apple Activity/Workout/Activity/Health stack. Technically, you can manually enter a workout in Health, but then it just gets lost there. By contrast, if you enter an activity in FB, the calories and steps move vertically through all the apps so that every user interface is synchronized (the bi-directional comment). Apple does not do this. Workout, Activity, and Health do not communicate bi-directionally. So, if you swim for 500 calories, or you run without your watch, you can enter the activity in Health, but it will not move down to the Activity app on the phone or watch to see the calorie and step impact on your day's activity. Similarly, if you run with a Garmin device, there is no way to get those steps and calories into Activity.
Oh, and here is another major fail: if an Apple Genius tells you that you need to rebuild your phone as a new device to solve a battery issue, then you lose all your health data. There is no web UI, no independent backup, and no way to manage and control your health data longitudinally.
I would substitute "confusion" for "complexity" in your analysis of the Apple app debacle, and I think it would be closer. It is not three apps, it is five, because you have to count HR in the Watch plus Activity and Workout on devices. And apple does not even have the missing sixth app-- the web app. Complexity can connote greater function that is difficult to access. Apple does not give more function, and it unnecessarily chunks up the app space. It is as if no one at Apple had ever seen a fitness tracker device and software environment before they baked the watch, so you get this mess. Meanwhile, Nike, FB, Jawbone, Virgin, and other amassed many years of experience and refinement in their supporting software ecosystems.
Yes...I was surprised that "Activity" appears to relate to the watch only. I agree that this is a problem.
The data doesn't get restored from iCloud backup? If that's the case then we are talking fatal flaw. Apple needs to fix that and they need to fix the data export. To have to turn to 3rd party tools to get your data out is really terrible. I never trust only one backup strategy anyway, which is why I backup to iCloud and occasionally iTunes as well as backup or export individual apps when possible. Most people only backup to iCloud though, and I would think Apple might face lawsuits over losing health data when someone does a full reset and restore. the lack of a more powerful Web UI is something that consistently disappoints me with Apple. They are definitely lagging behind the competition in that area and iCloud still feels like a device syncing service more than a true cloud service (even with the addition of iCloud Drive). This is why I have often preferred apps that had their own Web UI (as Fitibt does) or that allowed me to export to Dropbox... or at least an encrypted email attachment.
I agree that confusion is part of it. To me it seems like Apple built a very powerful foundation for consolidating, analyzing and exporting data from various apps. The problem is that it doesn't actually do the analyzing very well (lacks more useful charting and reporting options) and it doesn't do the exporting at all in its current state. If their goal is to create a common database then that is an admirable one, but only if they give us complete control over our own data so we can export and back it up as many ways as we want.
Sigh. I guess I will continue to use the Fitbit One alongside my Apple Watch for the foreseeable future, and if my Fitbit died tomorrow I would probably buy another one until I can trust Apple to at least not lose my data. Besides, the sleep tracking is probably the most important metric I'm tracking these days (health-wise, a lack of quality sleep is my biggest problem... and the data reminds me to get to bed earlier). I'm also still concerned about the accuracy of what the Apple Watch and iPhone record. I don't need the precision of an elite athlete in training, but I would like to think that my metrics are showing me reasonably reliable trends.
No, the problem is that Health data are only saved in iCloud & iTunes backup. So, if you have an iOS problem and Apple tells you to rebuild your phone as new and do not restore from backup, you are screwed. This is Apple's typical response to a battery issue they cannot explain-- just wipe and setup your phone as new.
Ah... if you have to rebuild and not restore from iCloud, you're going to lose your health data plus a lot more. This is why I don't trust iCloud backups alone (or even iCloud plus iTunes)... but I know many people who use nothing but iCloud to backup their devices. As much of a pain as it would be for me to restore individual apps, I could do that for the ones that really matter to me (When choosing apps that track data I have always chosen the ones that either sync to their own cloud service or at least allow me to backup and restore outside of iCloud or iTunes if I absolutely need to).