The Apple Watch Sport Review – A Running Fail

Today we have taken a deep dive into the Apple Watch Sport edition, with a particular focus on how Apple’s first wearable fares for runners and gym goers. In an industry dominated by the likes of Fitbit, how does the fashionable and chic Apple Watch compare with the battle hardened sports specific offerings brought to us by this sectors pioneers? Does this watch deliver for runners?

There is no doubt that Apple has been at the top of the consumer technology spectrum ever sine Steve Jobs returned to rescue his failing brainchild. The innovative products the company continues to bring to the market have users thirsting for “the next best thing.” Starting with Apple computers and evolving through to smartwatches, the company continues to deliver cutting-edge and mouth-watering designs. Apple TVs, iPhones, iPods, iPads and now the Apple Watch makes the Cupertino based company one of the most prominent players in the technology industry.

As wearable tech starts to overcome its ‘fad’ tag, the technology company has leaped at the chance to produce the most innovative product on the market. The recently released Apple Sports Watch has been the topic of conversation for many Apple fanatics. From the design of the watch to the operating system within, and the hundreds of features and functionalities built into the tiny wrist wearable, Apple has out-done itself, again. We bring to you Apple Watch Sport – A Detailed Review explaining to users why it is one of, if not, the best smart technologies out there.

Smart watches and other such wearables have had an uphill battle for relevancy. Tech watches have to compete with watches of the more fashionable kinds, and many people have struggled to see how a transient piece of wrist tech is going to outcompete an ornamental wrist watch, like a Tag or Omega. It was long rumoured that the emergence of Apple into the space would radically change the consumer perception of these devices, but that has largely failed to be the case with the first cut of this product. As of late November 2015, they remain niche and the pre-Christmas chatter is hardly deafening about where this sits on the spectrum of ‘must buy’ gear this season. However when we dive into a sports specific offering, the goal-posts move a bit.

Suddenly we’re not constrained by the luxury vs tech argument, as many of us have been using Garmin’s and Polar devices to track our runs for years. The emergence of smarter watches which don’t need chest straps, everyday watches with GPS functionality and better companion apps – not to mention continuous ‘all day’ tracking has reignited this sector. Such watches ARE in demand.

However, Apple have been the king of chic tech which has struck a chord with the middle class mass-market chic set. So the challenge of busting into the fitness space is a very real challenge for Apple here. They have never succeeded in making a niche product before, not that fitness is the tightest of niches, but it is a journey away from the norm mass market, applicable for all, Apple offering.

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11. Is the Apple Sport Watch great for running? 

We’ll cut straight to the point, the reason why you came to this page. Have Apple nailed it for runners with the first iteration of their smart watch?

No. There you have it – the long and short answer. With a caveat. It has the potential to be.

It has no GPS

This is a terrible drawback for any piece of smart tech which has serious intentions to make its mark on the running community. GPS is the function that allows a device to know where you are, and therefore where you have been, and therefore how far you have travelled, and therefore how fast you covered the ground. As it knows your route, it can time your splits, accurately. As it knows where you went and when, it knows when you were sprinting, jogging or walking. In other words, GPS brings with it a tonne of data points which are very very interesting for runners. For this reason, the Apple watch is not yet a device that we can recommend, especially in light of the raft of better options out there, may of which come on your phone.

Its a shame, because it doesn’t need you to carry your smartphone to function

Which is a very big selling point. So much smart tech is entirely redundant without you having the smartphone ‘brain’ within virtual touching distance of the device. The so called smart tech, such as the watch is therefore merely a stat collector in many cases, without having the intelligence to store the data let alone crunch it. This is not the case with the Apple Sports watch, as it works autonomously. This means that it has the rich potential to actually be a very good runners tool. Which makes the lack of GPS all the more frustrating.

It only works autonomously with the Apple Workout app

Which is sadly, oh so very Apple, with its closed ecosystem approach. The problem is, the market is full of great independent fitness apps, as we pointed out here, many of which are better than the Apple workout app. To not pair autonomously with these apps looks small minded, and misses the wider point that runners have a serious backlog of data stored in their favourite third party apps.

This can be circumnavigated by running with your phone on you, which opens up more issues. This lets you use third party apps, but when you’re running and lift your arm to check your stats, the watch has infuriatingly defaulted back to telling you the time of day. This defeats the purpose, and any runner knows that fiddling around with small buttons whilst trying to beast it does nothing for your splits, let alone your safety. Its the running equivalent to walking and texting.

Yet it does have features that we like, and believe that the Apple Sports Watch 2 will help further develop

  • Unlike the closed app ecosystem, you can plug in third party heart rate monitors. Whilst the 2 may move to do this with a strapless wrist reader, this is a great step away from ‘everything has to be Apple’
  • Load your favourite tunes and sync your bluetooth headphones, and you have a workout music player. The 2GB limit may drive serious endurance athletes a little mad mind!
  • Apple pay – perfect for when you need to pick up a quick drink whilst out running. No need to wear a running belt to cary cash, which is a winner.
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