The Apple Watch Review – Work It Out – Health, Fitness, Activity Tracker


Apple’s done an awful lot of work to position the Watch as a

fitness virtual private servers device — in many ways, it’s the only thing it can do that an

iPhone can’t do. With a built-in heart rate monitor, an accelerometer,

and the advantage of always being on site your wrist, the Watch feels like it

should be the ultimate fitness wearable, a tiny supercomputer to put

all those Fitbits and Ups to shame. But like so much else with the

Watch, while the fitness capabilities web hosting are the first steps towards what

eventually might become a juggernaut, they’re nowhere near a complete

solution.

The Watch’s health and fitness features are broken up across

two apps: Activity and Workout. The Activity app is beautiful, but

extremely basic — it’s what monitors your movement. You can set goals

for your calories burned, exercise, and standing, which are displayed as

three concentric rings. Red is calories, green is exercise, and blue is

standing. I’m not sure why standing is measured in “hours” — the Watch

just bugs you to stand up for a couple minutes every hour, and that’s

good enough. It’ll also show you your steps and total distance, which is

nice.

The Watch and phone hosting work together to make it even more accurate.

All of this tracking worked fine while I was wearing the Watch,

but there just wasn’t much else going on. Unlike the Fitbit and other

popular activity trackers, there’s no social component here to let you

compete with your friends, and there’s no tracking of your calories

burned against your weight or what you’re eating. The data feeds into

the iPhone’s Health database, so other apps could pull from there and

give you these other features, but out of the box it’s just a very basic

activity tracker.

The other health and fitness app is Workout, which offers you a

series of presets geared towards various cardio workouts. It’s not a

huge list of choices: you’ve got indoor and outdoor walking and running,

elliptical, cycling, stair steppers, rowing, and the catchall “other.”

Apple says these presets all trigger specialized algorithms that use the

accelerometer and heart domains rate sensor in slightly different ways to

capture extremely accurate data. If you’ve got your iPhone in your

pocket, the Watch and phone will work together to calibrate

accelerometer data against the phone GPS to make it even more accurate.

Neat.

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It’s definitely nice to have these presets built in, but again,

it’s all pretty much table stakes. There’s nothing that captures

lifting weights, virtual private servers yoga, or other exercises that don’t either crank up

your heart rate or trip the accelerometer wordpress hosting with movement. You can use the

“other” preset, which will always give you credit for a brisk walk even

if the other sensors aren’t returning a ton of data, but it’s

definitely not perfect. And I found that the heart rate sensor struggled

during my workouts, especially when I was really sweaty; it

consistently measured about half my correct heart rate instead of my

full 148bpm.

Again, Apple will surely improve all of this with software

updates; it’s hard not to see them adding more workout types over time.

But out of the box right now, the Apple Watch is a very expensive,

barebones fitness tracker. It’s much nicer than its competitors — I used

it with the white sport band and thought it was really quite striking —

but it’s certainly not more full-featured.