Why I'm reconsidering the Watch... (fitness)

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by Mad Mac Maniac, Oct 7, 2014.

  1. Mad Mac Maniac macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

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    #1
    So when the Apple watch first came out, I was mildly disappointed and certainly had little interest in it. It was expensive and didn't really see a whole lot of use case. All the smartwatch junk I see as unnecessary. I basically dismissed it, but decided that I'd reconsider it at Gen2.

    Prior to the apple watch annoucement, I had intentionally referained from looking at or considering any kind of watch, because I wanted to see what Apple came out with. Now over the past few days I've been looking at various fitness gps watches for tracking my runs. This is my primary use case at the moment. But all of them seem to have something lacking. Can't listen to music. Can't sync with my phone. Need to hook usb to computer to download data. Not great UI. And to top it all off most of the one's I'd be most interested in are in the $250-$300 range anyway.

    Now when I look back at the Apple watch it immediately looks so much more appealing. Listen to music through bluetooth. Monitors steps/altitude. Beautiful screen and UI. Immediately syncs with my iPhone for more detailed views/manipulation of data. never have to plug into a computer. cool charging. reminder to stand up and move every hour. Limitless capability with 3rd party fitness apps... And THEN I add in all the smartwatch type features. That's just the icing on the cake of my fitness device. When I look at it through this lens, it seems much more appealing.

    The biggest downfall in my eyes is the lack of GPS... It's hard to be an ideal running companion without GPS. I completely understand why it's not included (battery drain), but with GPS I think the Apple watch would be perfect. However, I could possibly live without GPS (for now, I'm definitely expecting it for gen2 or 3) as long as the motion tracker is accurate enough for runs...

    I think I'll probably just end up getting a cheapish GPS watch to tide me over to the gen 2 or 3 Apple watch... but being up on this fence about getting the apple watch is not a location I expected myself to be in.

    So what do you all think? Does looking at it this way change your thoughts? Or does anyone have any good gps watch recommendations to help tide me over?
     
  2. odds macrumors 6502

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    Los Angeles
    #2
    Since you've already done a bit of research on your own, would you mind posting other fitness bands or watches that offer GPS? I'm genuinely curious regarding how many devices out there right now actually offer a GPS feature.

    Obviously, you're going to need to be running with your iPhone and your Apple Watch for the first gen. Tech will advance and you'll eventually not need your iPhone, but that might be a few years away (especially if Apple insists on having your Watch's battery last at least 12 hours). Even a half-hour of GPS use drains a significant amount of battery life.

    That being said, the Watch will still be capable of tracking your runs without your iPhone albeit not as accurately as if you were to bring your iPhone. Maybe we'll be surprised by how well the Watch is able to do this on its own. We'll see.

    After watching the keynote, I can tell you that I'm already sold on the Watch. As long as the standard stainless steel Watch isn't more than $500, I'll be getting it. If it is over $500, I'm going to go with the Sport (assuming that's the $350 starting price one).
     
  3. leenak macrumors 68020

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    #3
    Well I'd wait until we get more details to really decide. Having said that, I've owned a few GPS watches and the battery life is abysmal but they are also not meant to be worn all the time. If you want GPS, look at Garmin. Or if you really want GPS, just carry your phone with you with the watch. Something like a spibelt would be useful for that.
     
  4. Cashmonee macrumors 6502a

    Cashmonee

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    #4
    I use a Garmin fenix 2, and, to be honest, like it a lot. The two major downsides are crummy UI and it's rather large, though you get used to that. Battery life is pretty good. I believe the life with GPS (tracking every second) on is around 15 or so hours. With the GPS set to track every 60 seconds, the claim is 55 hours. No GPS, Garmin claims something like 3 or 4 weeks. It has bluetooth to sync with the phone, so you don't have to plug it in, and it works with ANT+ sensors for things like heart rate monitors, pedometers, speed and cadence sensors, etc.

    If you are buying something to work out, and you are serious about, something like the fenix 2 or Forerunner 620XT is the way to go. What those watches, and many others from Polar, Suunto, and Timex, can do makes the Apple offering laughable as a fitness watch. If you just want to track your runs, I would just use the iPhone or possibly a lower end Forerunner. It really depends on your use case. What is it you want from a sports watch?

    I will say calling the Sport Apple Watch a sports watch is like calling a Corolla S a sports car. A rubber watch band doesn't make the Apple Watch a sports watch anymore than a body kit makes the Corolla a sports car.
     
  5. Piggie macrumors 604

    Piggie

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    Feb 23, 2010
    #5
    Something I honestly don't understand.

    And this is very similar thinking to say a physical game controller with buttons you can feel and playing games on a touch screen.

    When I would be running, on a bike, on some gym equipment etc etc.

    I would be not relaxed at all, very hyped up, blood pumping, sweating/whatever, no time for any messing around.

    I'd want to lift my arm, see on a nice large clear display what I wanted to know, and be able to press one or more large easy to feel buttons as I keep going.

    Functionality and ease of use without breaking my stride is 100% exactly my requirements.

    That, to me is not in any way the Apple Watch.

    I cannot imagine someone running, or on some equipment, staring at the tiny screen, rolling the side wheel to select what they want, swiping the screen, that's sitting at a desk, fiddling stuff.

    I'm not saying anything wrong with that. But during a workout of any time I want fast easy to see, easy to get at information at the touch of an easy to find button. no messing around with fiddly things.
     
  6. bransoj macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 31, 2013
    #6
    Would you not have the watch open on your fitness app of choice displaying this information already before you start?
     
  7. Piggie, Oct 8, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2014

    Piggie macrumors 604

    Piggie

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    #7
    Well.

    I suppose it depends on how realistic this is.

    1: Can you easily raise you arm up, whilst running, for example and see the information clearly and quickly on a screen such as this in good daylight, like you can on a black/white LCD type screen.

    2: Will the app display all the information you need on the one screen without having to fiddle, swipe etc using the other hand to see what you want.

    3: Will the writing on the screen simply be too small for a quick easy view.

    Running/cycling etc, you want to take a quick glance and carry on, or perhaps hit an easy to get to, or feel for, button.

    Not mess around with a tiny touch screen.
    Functional/Practical does not often flow with stunning good looks.

    Exercising you can just want a functional tool to do the job.

    I'm not for a moment suggesting this. It's just a google search find.
    However: http://overweightandover50.com/images/polar-watch.jpg
    May in reality be a far better TYPE of device for serious use.

    Clear, Quick, easy to read display.
    4 easy to find buttons on the side and one central button.

    No gimmics, no messing around, just plain simple, job done, tells you all you need to know, minimum of fuss.

    I do struggle to see serious people working out and training using the Apple Watches.
    Just feels like it's trying to be jack of all trades, master of none. From Gold jet setting supermodel, to body builder sweating down the gym.
     
  8. leenak macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #8
    I think the answer is 'it depends'. If you are a serious runner, then I would say get a running watch or if you are a triathlete, get something that can do run/bike/swim.

    If you are a casual runner, casual hiker, someone trying to increase activity or a gym rat, the apple watch should fit. One thing I use my phone for at the gym is to review exercises I am doing (videos/pictures) as well as a stop watch for timed exercises. I am not sure the watch would be suitable for watching demos but as a stop watch, definitely. I'm doubtful any HRM function would be as good as a chest strap but I think the majority of people don't need exact heart rate measurements and chest straps are annoying.
     
  9. matrix07 macrumors 601

    matrix07

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    #9
    I already decide to buy it so your post didn't change mine. :p But lacking of GPS for running is a bit.. unfortunate. That and I'm still not sure if it will be able to gather data when I'm running on treadmill.
    Oh, and not water-proof part...
     
  10. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2010
    Location:
    US
    #10
    At the moment I see two fatal flaws in the watch with regards to running. Lack of GPS is one, as previously pointed out. The other is dealing with moisture (rain/showers/sweat).

    GPS - as mentioned this is a must-have for even slightly serious runners. People are too used to having their runs mapped out after-the-fact as well as a reasonable sense of speed / distance / pace. Look at the vast array of phone-based running apps and online communities. Yes, GPS seriously sucks down battery life; but as anyone familiar with these devices knows, you only have the GPS active when you're actually doing a run. At other times it's not active. Where the market hasn't really gone yet is combining the gps watch with fitness monitor; the first such multimode device (AFAIK) is the recent Polar V800. Full on triathlon watch when you're working out, fitness monitor when you're not.

    Moisture - Couple of aspects here. One is the touchscreen; capacitive touch interfaces simply do not work well with sweaty activities. Garmin stupidly had to find this out the hard way a few years ago on some watch models before they switched over to resistive touch screens or button-only interfaces (depending on the watch). Maybe Apple's solved this problem, but I'll be surprised if they have in the first generation device. The button / crown is a possible UI solution, but may be limited in capabilities (or awkward to use). We'll have to see. I'd also be very concerned going to the gym, working out with the watch, then stashing it in my locker when I went to get a shower. Seems to almost be begging for a busted locker and no more Apple watch.

    The more concerning aspect is Apple's advising not to wear the watch in the shower. First, I've ended up in plenty of rainstorms much heavier than any shower and it'd be stupid to have to worry about my running watch. More importantly though, sweat is invasive and corrosive. If the Apple watch can't handle a shower, I have no confidence in its ability to survive a Georgia summer's worth of sweaty running. (when ran with headphones more often, I regularly killed supposedly "sweatproof" Sennheisers...)

    Piggie - I agree with your assessment about ability to view the screen. That's why I run with a Garmin 610. Easy to see under any conditions. On the other hand, there are MANY people who run with their phones in an armband or pouch and use running apps to keep track. I suppose they're either not needing to look at the screens much or they're using apps that app periodically announce their stats through the headphones (as the Nike+ Running app does).

    I'll keep an open mind and see what comes. This may be akin to the ipad where the initial reactions were largely just not understanding a new paradigm. Or it may be something where it takes a generation or two before Apple really dials it in to create a solid product. We'll see.
     
  11. bransoj macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 31, 2013
    #11
    Well at the moment we dont really know as we havent seen much of the watch to completely dismiss it as possible or say it is! You've dismissed the idea of it being possible without really having much information to work with or knowing in what way the app developers will be able to use the watch display to tell you things.
     
  12. Piggie macrumors 604

    Piggie

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    Feb 23, 2010
    #12
    I know there is a vast difference between a serious tool designed for 1 task and designed for that task very well.

    In the case of fitness, shock proof, almost indestructible, water/sweat proof as it will need washing after a heavy workout.

    Large easy to read display in bright daylight, simple to find large buttons, ideally just by touch along. not needing to look to see which button as you know the lower left button tells you something.

    You know what I mean, like a proper tool for a proper job.
    Not some multi tool which can do lots and has to be ok for a lot of things.

    I don't think anyone really thinks this is a replacement for a serious users device, in a real harsh, to be used environment.

    It's going to be great for some though.
     
  13. Julien macrumors G3

    Julien

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    Jun 30, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #13
    I'm going to continue to use my Garmin 620 and have been practicing by using on my right wrist. I'm an obsessive record keeper (have spreadsheets going back over 10 years on every workout) and will wear the aWatch as a supplement, plus all day HR/step monitor.

    I have been carrying my iPhone on all runs (1000's) and use it as a backup GPS recording (obsessive) and for music playback. I use a fanny pack and have been running this way since 2007. It is just like not having it at all. Also if you need to take a pic, make a call or whatever you have your iPhone.

    I have 5 or 6 fanny packs and currently use the bottom on in this pic.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Piggie macrumors 604

    Piggie

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    #14
    Being in the UK.

    'Fanny Pack' can't help but raise a little smile :D
     
  15. Symtex macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    I am using an Suunto Ambit 2 with an HR monitor. It has GPS built-in and it provide a lot of important data when I run. I can do comparison of my HR vs elevation per example.

    If you are serious about fitness, you will notice that optical Hr monitor is still not precise enough to be consider as an acceptable method of measuring HR. Nothings beats a good old strap on your chest.
     
  16. STEALTH714 macrumors newbie

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  17. ssmed macrumors 6502

    ssmed

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    #17
    The Garmin 620 works really well, is not big or clunky and seems accurate with GPS compared to the older 301 which is very large. You can pair to your phone (bluetooth) and it uploads to WiFi at the end of a run. GPS battery life not as good as the Fenix and so not suitable for Ultras.
     
  18. fitshaced macrumors 68000

    fitshaced

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    Jul 2, 2011
    #18
    I agree. Along with being a great GPS watch with superb battery life, the Fenix (and other dedicated running watches) has physical buttons. Being able to pause/stop an activity without having to look at the watch face is actually very important.

    Also, as the iWatch is not waterproof and requires the iPhone for gps, it is essentially useless for watersports. I can't think there would be many people willing to strap their phone to their arm for swimming or willing to splash out on waterproof housing for their phone and watch.
     
  19. leenak macrumors 68020

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    #19
    Actually I was looking at this yesterday, it looks pretty good and will have an iOS app.
     
  20. Mad Mac Maniac thread starter macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

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    #20
    So my biggest 2 reservations with getting a GPS watch are as follows:

    1) I like to listen to audiobooks/podcasts while I run. With all of these GPS watches I would need to bring my iPhone anyway, so then the benefits are greatly reduced.

    2) I have years of historical data in my Nike+ app. I would essentially start from scratch with the new system. There is an old Nike+ GPS watch, but I'm not super impressed with it.

    This is why a GPS-enabled Apple watch would be ideal. It would surely solve both of these problems.
     
  21. Julien macrumors G3

    Julien

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    #21
    You should be able to export your Nike+ files to GPX format and use in just about any fitness App.:cool:

    We are probably at least a 2 or 4 gens away from a GPS aWatch. Remember lit-ion battaries are going to be the limiting factor for many years to come and Apple probably wants to add other unique health related sensors (to sell next gen aWatches). ;)

    Not only does offloading GPS save a ton of batt life in the aWatch it also helps to sell more iPhones by making the aWatch more dependent.
     
  22. matrix07, Oct 9, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014

    matrix07 macrumors 601

    matrix07

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    #22
    You have 2 choices. One is running with your iPhone for now and wait for next generation of :apple:Watch to have GPS, or two running with :apple:Watch now and be content with rough data.
    I'm not too serious about it so I'll try :apple:Watch as it is. I think it'll be fun to try new technology and see what I'd be impressed.. or not. :)
     
  23. Mad Mac Maniac thread starter macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

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    #23
    hmmm.. that might be a possibility. I'd have to look into that more.

    Yeah, I'm really hoping gen2 will have GPS, but I'd certainly be frusterated if I waited and then had my hopes dashed.

    This is not valid logic. This wouldn't harm iPhone sales. The Awatch still needs the iPhone for cellular and data.

    Yeah, I just wish I knew how rough that data would be. Like if the iPhone GPS has an accuracy of +/- 5% and the watch will have an accuracy of +/- 10% then I'd be fine with that. But if the error margin goes up to like +/-30% then that'd definitely be a no-go
     
  24. Symtex macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 27, 2005
    #24
    I run with my Iphone 4 in my pocket while using my GPS Watch. The GPS watch is just more precise on elevation, pace, speed and other factors. although the iphone is not bad its not as precise as a dedicated watch. I expect the same result with the :apple:Watch. It will be fine for most folk but not good enough for more advance fitness user.
     
  25. Julien macrumors G3

    Julien

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    #25
    I fell on concrete running on July 2ed and shattered my iPhone. Had to buy a new one. :eek: Also people will be exposing their iPhones to inclement weather and generally more wear and tear so they may have to update 6 months earlier that they planed on. Apple WILL sell more iPhones this way.;)

    ----------

    This seems to be more about the algorithms of the Apps and not the hardware of the iPhone. I also run with an iPhone App as a backup to my watch (Garmin 620 now) and have 100's of duplicate runs. So far the most accurate iPhone App I have found is Strava. Hopefully Apple will work hard on getting the algorithms right on their App.

    All iPhone Apps have the hardest time on extreme trail running (lots of elevation changes with close switchbacks) but Strava is still better that all other iPhone Apps I have tried (and I have tried MANY).
     

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