Workout, Activity, & Health App Assessment

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by exxxviii, Jun 23, 2015.

  1. exxxviii, Jun 23, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2015

    exxxviii macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2015
    I am a fitness guy and wellness data geek. The Apple Watch’s health and wellness features were not a high priority for me when I bought my AW, but it was hoping that it could replace some of what I am doing with a Fitbit zip and Garmin 910XT. It cannot. Watch OS2 may help bridge some of the gaps, but that is a huge unknown at the moment. Maybe some of the beta testers can chime in.

    If you are considering an Apple Watch with an emphasis on its fitness and activity tracking features, you may want to investigate further. The workout and activity apps are more novelty toys than useful from a holistic wellness perspective.

    These are a few of the shortcomings I have found, compared to most other fitness tracking and exercise device and software ecosystems.

    • You cannot manually enter a workout in the activity app. This is a big deal to me. There are times when you cannot use or do not want to use the AW (like swimming, impact sports, mowing the lawn, etc.) and times when you just forget the watch. With other trackers, you simply manually enter an activity. That is impossible with the AW.
    • No social component. All other fitness trackers I have seen have web and phone apps that let you friend people and compete against step and other goals. This has been state of market for 5 years.
    • You cannot record food consumption to manage wellness holistically. I use Fitbit to help me record food and balance that against caloric burn when I am trying to lose weight or in intense training. The AW has no mechanism to do this.
    • No web interface that lets users manage and analyze data easier and more thoroughly. Every other fitness tracker tool has a web UI that presents information in ways not possible on a phone screen.
    • No way for other apps to feed data into activity/workout/health. Other tools allow you to import food consumption and workout data from other sources. AW cannot. For example, my Garmin workouts automatically feed into Fitbit.
    • No way to share data with other aggregator apps, like Strava or Training Peaks. This is kind of important for people who use leading web apps to manage health and fitness. Most other tools do this.
    • Workout does not show discrete data down to splits within an activity. As a result, you cannot use it for performance analysis and improvement. (This is a low priority from a fitness tracker device point of view, but it would be nice to have.)

    The whole Apple Watch activity, fitness, wellness, and health package seems immature and incomplete. Many of the features above have been around for years in other products, so appears as if Apple either rushed the current software to market or they totally ignored products already in the market. I am hopeful that wOS2 will bridge some of the gaps above. Maybe it comes through better 3rd party apps, but then those run the risk of simply abandoning the Apple activity ecosystem because it does not offer a robust enough foundation to support a complete solution.
  2. D.T. macrumors G3


    Sep 15, 2011
    Vilano Beach, FL
    Seems like a pretty reasonable assessment, though obviously some of the things you've indicated are for more "advanced" tracking.

    I think the inability to log data manually is a pretty major omission. I've already been nailed at least once completely (and once partially, i.e., late start on the watch).

    The iOS Health app seems like the bridge, but it doesn't appear to feed the Activity app[?] if you enter anything manually. It'll read from multiple sources, and has a share/push option, but the implementation seems broken/incomplete. I wouldn't mind if Health was a global aggregated view, Activity was the more discrete data, but Health needs to be a two-way data hub that works.

    Also, like I mentioned in another post, I'd like to see all data pushed up to iCloud, with a nice web UI, where you could do comparisons, share data (social or via to groups (I think group competitions could be fun and motivating).
  3. parseckadet macrumors 65816


    Dec 13, 2010
    Denver, CO
    How are you expecting to input data into the Apple Watch? On the watch itself, or via an iPhone app? You must be willing to use an app if the zip fits your needs. Remember that the watch works WITH the iPhone, not in isolation. If you're only looking at the watch then you're only getting part of the picture.

    Have you looked at the Health app on the iPhone? It has places for all of the data points you mentioned, and allows for manual entry. Other iPhone apps can then use and/or add to that data, such as My Fitness Pal.

    As for 3rd party apps on the watch, remember that one of the apps demonstrated on stage at WWDC was Strava.
  4. Newtons Apple Suspended

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    The Apple Watch is not a dedicated fitness device. Even my $250 Fitbit Surge does way better with it's built in GPS and constant heart rate tracking. The Apple kinda over hyped the watch as a fitness device in my opinion and can not replace a good dedicated fitness device for "serious" fitness buffs.
  5. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    I can understand that Apple watch's fitness tracking can seem overly simplistic to people who are already active and have an established fitness routine. However, it's been a great motivational tool for complete beginners like me and my mom. We used to sit in the house and read all day, but now we are consciously making efforts to go out and move around so we can fill the Move and Exercise circles. We don't need to track it against calorie intake, because we aren't trying to lose weight, just make sure to move around enough so we get a little more fit. I think more complex tracking functions will be added in time, or maybe Apple thinks people who want more complex functions should use third party apps. But it seems clear to me that Apple aimed the watch's fitness functions toward people who haven't done any fitness work before.
  6. exxxviii thread starter macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2015
    Great point. I totally forgot about that. All other fitness devices have a web UI for better management and analysis of health data. I will edit my original post to put this back in.
    Phone or web UI. Other fitness tracking tools have both. Currently, it is not possible from any device.

    I have played with Health, but it is very limited and clumsy. For example, it cannot push a workout's data down into Activity to contribute to your daily activity rings. And, there is no web UI for any of this that helps get a bigger picture of progress.
    Agree, that is what drove this. I expected a lot more in the fitness tracker area, and others considering an AW might assume it has the same capabilities as a basic fitness tracker. But, the supporting Apple apps are not ready in its current form.
  7. exxxviii thread starter macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2015
    I agree. And I love the watch and the way that it interacts and motivates. No doubt it is fantastic in that regard. Its just that the total solution is about two years behind the market (Fitbit, Pebble, Garmin vivovit, Basis, Jawbone, Misfit, Microsoft, etc.). If someone familiar with another fitness tracker assumed (or expected) that the Apple Watch did the same stuff, they might be disappointed.
  8. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2010
    All of this will change ocne WatchOS 2 allows third party apps. Apple is not trying to control the fitness ecosystem, they merely built the hardware for it, and HealthKit, to make it easier for third party apps to talk to each other. THe included fitness features on the Apple Watch are quite simplistic for the time being, but more advanced apps will come.

    I'm interested in seeing what Microsoft does and seeing if I can import my data into their software/service.
  9. fanboi4lyfe macrumors regular


    Apr 20, 2015
    Chicago, IL
    Great points made, really in depth and clear. I just started using the Apple Watch while going to the gym, I've been meaning to get into better shape and start being healthier overall. I think out of every fitness device that I have owned, Fitbit Flex was the major one for some time, the Apple Watch has given me the most motivation to get up and go. It's simple to input the workouts that are included and I like the tracking it gives while IN the gym.

    I do think that if you were able to add custom workouts instead of just choosing "Other" would be a great step in the right direction. It also kind of goes back to the fundamental problem of the watch, it does a lot of things pretty well but not just one great thing. I think thats kind of why I like it so much. Just my two cents

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