I’ve had 4 different fitness trackers in 2015 – the year of the fitness tracker. Some I hated (only had a month) while others I’ve relied on to keep me running when I just want to stop. The Apple Watch I’ve had for about 3 months now. So how does it stack up against other trackers I’ve used? And do I suggest you purchase it for fitness tracking?
I’ll start by saying I love the Apple Watch. I love how it looks and how convenient it is and how useful it can be. However, it has a long way to go in the fitness tracking world. Do I think Apple will improve it’s usability? Probably (and they should). Do I think you should still buy one? Probably, but not before you weigh the following points:
The Apple Watch is awfully sweet, sleek and sexy. While most fitness trackers are compact, mostly masculine and pretty high tech looking, the Apple Watch (at least the rose gold/lavender combination I have) is feminine and sleek. I used to really hate wearing my boring black VivoFit and FitBit plus they were so hard to wear with watches. In fact, I never wore my collection of watches, which I used to hold dear to my heart, when I used those 2 types of trackers. Now, I love wearing my Apple Watch as a fitness tracker and fashion watch combined. And maybe I can make a few bucks off all of those Michael Kors watches… In my opinion, the Apple Watch is the best looking tracker, plus you don’t need to spend money on other watches. Win-win.
App (Workout App)
The app needs help. Major help. The reason I had the VivoFit for only 1 month was because the app was absolutely terrible. I upgraded to the Fitbit because it has the #1 app I’ve ever used. It tracked every part of your day from the HR to sleep tracking to your steps down to the minute. Workout analytics were amazing! You could see charts on charts on charts about your workout in addition to basic living life charts and how they fit together. Basically, the Apple Workout app tells you how long you worked out and how many calories it burned. Not a lot of features there. The positive is that if you connect your Apple Watch to Bluetooth at all times it automatically updates in your iPhone app. I have yet to use other fitness tracking apps (if there are any really), but the Apple native app needs serious updating.
I tested the Workout app against the Nike running app during a 5K and found it was relatively consistent, almost exactly accurate. However, I’ve wondered how accurate my indoor workouts have been, since usually the length of the run is at least 0.3 miles longer according to the Watch compared to the treadmill and calories are recorded lower. The app allows you to record fitness activities in a small number of categories with specific tracking for each, but only offers Indoor Running and Cycling, Outdoor Running and Cycling, Elliptical, Rower and Other. I use ClassPass so many of my classes I take fall into the Other category (yoga, barre, kickboxing), and I think it’s throwing the data recording off. Apple Watch to Fitbit steps were about 200-300 steps lower, which sounds more accurate.
The battery is a bit inconvenient. It doesn’t hold a charge for more than 24 hours (my Fitbit needed to be charged one a week or less). And there have been many battery glitches where it has drained exceptionally fast (like in 3 hours) with no explanation. It has a specific charger (like most do) so you pretty much have to have your cord with you any time you travel (and it’s kind of big).
Being able to read text messages, answer the phone, and control basic apps is pretty great. However, not so much while you’re working out and receiving tons of notifications, emails and text messages. I thought going into it that it would distract me more during work or social events, but I find myself looking at my phone so much less now. I was pleasantly surprised/wrong on that one.
Since it’s a fairly new and complex piece of equipment, there aren’t a ton of apps to download and many of the apps are still pretty glitchy. Sometimes Instagram works and Twitter has about 2 features. I still haven’t figured out how to control the music I’m listening to. You can send a text – if you want to say it out loud and convert to text (not ideal for public places) or send a pre-written message.
Overall, I love the watch as an accessory. For me to think it’s better than or on par with the Fitbit as a fitness tracker, Apple will need to upgrade the Workout app a lot or another fitness app needs to be introduced. Basically, Apple needs to copy/buy the Fitbit app and we’d be set. I get so many compliments on the watch in general, and I haven’t used my Fitbit since because I love the way the Apple Watch looks so much. If you’re a casual fitness fan who loves high tech and appreciates a nice looking watch, this is the one for you.
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