The Apple Watch Might Make Your Fitness Tracker Obsolete

IMG_5988Photo: Courtesy of Apple.
Yesterday, Apple unveiled the Apple Watch, a wearable with a number of built-in features that will make it a huge power player in the fitness-tech space. Much like your standard tracker, the Apple Watch will pay attention to how you move throughout the day and will track your overall distance and calorie burn. It uses an accelerometer to measure your total body movement (pretty standard in most pedometer-based fitness trackers). But, it also monitors your heart rate through a custom sensor on the rear of the watch face. The heart rate measure isn’t currently integrated into most basic fitness wearables, but is essential in accurately calculating data such as intensity and calories burned. Plus, the Apple Watch calculates distance using the GPS and Wi-Fi functionality in your phone.
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On the iPhone, Apple goes a step further, also tracking your elevation (giving you well-deserved credit for climbing up all those flights of stairs) in addition to your movement. This feature exists in some trackers currently on the market — notably the Fitbit One, which tracks floors climbed — but is not yet a widely integrated feature.
So, rather than just showing you how much you move, Apple Watch wants to monitor the quality of that movement — plus how well it’s spread throughout your day. The result is two separate apps, Activity and Fitness. Read on to see how they might make your current tracker obsolete.
Screen-Shot-2014-09-09-at-11.32.52-PMPhoto: Courtesy of Emily Price.
The Activity App
This app tracks different factors: how much you stand, how much you move around, and how often you deliberately exercise. Its goal is for you to stand for at least a minute every hour (for 12 hours) during the day and log at least 30 minutes of exercise. Those targets, along with your own personal fitness goals (i.e. walking 10,000 steps a day) are displayed as circles on the screen. Complete all three rings, and you'll have reached your goal for the day.
The Fitness App
There’s also a dedicated workout app to track specific activities, such as running and cycling. You can set a calorie, duration, or distance goal, and the easily accessible watch allows you to check in on your progress in real-time. After you complete your workout, your summary syncs with the Fitness app on your iPhone as well as with the phone's Health app, providing a more complete look at your short-term and long-term progress.
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While the wearable has its own apps, it will also work with your favorite third-party programs to seamlessly monitor your data. You’ll be able to get your first taste of the Health app when iOS 8 drops on September 17th. As for the Apple Watch, you’ll have to wait a bit on that one — it’s slated for a 2015 release and will retail for $349. Until we sweat-test the device ourselves, there’s no way of knowing whether it will truly replace our beloved trackers. But, it certainly shows promise — as do most things that are U2-approved. Now, if only we could get Bono to come jogging with us.
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