It’s time for Apple Watch to get serious about fitness

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Here's how Apple could improve watchOS 4 for fitness buffs.
Here's how watchOS 4 could improve Apple Watch for fitness buffs.
Image: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple puts fitness front and center in its advertising for Apple Watch Series 2, even going so far as to claim the device is a “superior sports watch.” But in reality, it is not a sports watch at all. It’s a smartwatch. And that’s a massively important distinction.

Sports watches, like the TomTom Runner or Garmin Forerunner, are cheaper and more reliable at logging workouts, while smartwatches are jacks of all trades, which usually means they are masters of none. Or at least, not masters of fitness.

The sad fact is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Right now, it’s mostly the software that is letting Apple Watch down. That’s why I’m hoping that with its next major software update, Apple will finally get its smartwatch into shape for fitness fans. Here’s what I want to see in watchOS 4, which Apple will likely unveil at its Worldwide Developers Conference this June.

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I can’t wait to reply to App Store reviews in iOS 10.3

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App Store reviews can make or break an app
App Store reviews can make or break an app. Soon, developers will get a chance to answer their critics.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

I’m not so thin-skinned that I can’t handle the occasional criticism. But there’s something about App Store reviews that really bugs me.

Like most indie developers, I put blood, sweat and tears into my app, Reps & Sets, which I develop with my partner. It’s our baby, and we love and cherish it. So when some random dude posts an inaccurate one-star review, I’ll be honest: It hurts. That’s why I’m so excited that Apple will be giving developers the chance to reply to reviews in iOS 10.3.

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Why Apple should make a cheap activity band (and what it might look like)

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A no-frills Apple fitness tracker could get new users hooked on the Activity app.
A no-frills Apple fitness tracker could get new users hooked on the Activity app.
Image: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

The Activity app is one of Apple’s most important and powerful products. Its three brightly colored rings are changing people’s lives around the world, inspiring individuals to make healthier choices throughout their day.

The trouble is, if you want to use the Activity app, your only option right now is to buy an Apple Watch — and Apple Watches are expensive.

With this kind of game-changing product, Apple usually wants to reach as big an audience as possible. Take the iPod, for example. It was too expensive for some consumers. so Apple released a no-frills, sub-$99 version called the iPod Shuffle. Could a similar strategy work for the Activity app? An affordable activity band from Apple could be a Fitbit killer.

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Nike+ Run Club is borking my runs, and I blame Apple Watch

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Nike Run Club on Apple Watch Nike+
Does the Nike Run Club app for Apple Watch Nike+ go the distance?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

At the most essential level, a running app should provide a reliable way to log your workouts: when, where, how fast and how far you run. Fancy features are all very well and good, but let’s be honest — if an app doesn’t get the basics right, it sucks.

Nike has been busy adding new bells and whistles to its Nike+ Run Club app recently. Which is great if you want stuff like photo sharing and news feeds. But all I want is to log my runs, and thanks to my Apple Watch Nike+, that critical function has become pretty unreliable.

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Anyone can get in shape in 2017 with the CultFit Home Workout

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Get fit in the privacy of your own home using everyday objects
Get fit in the privacy of your own home using everyday objects
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

CultFit Home Workout If your New Year’s resolution is to get in shape in 2017, but you spend all your waking hours in front of your MacBook, we’ve got the answer: our new CultFit Home Workout.

All you need is your iPhone, plus your Apple Watch if you have one, and some everyday objects you’ll find around your home or office. No gym membership required. It’s a great way to get started on your fitness journey, and it only takes 10 minutes a day.

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Stay strong in 2017 with CultFit Home Workout, Week 2

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Kill it with a skillet in Week 2 of our CultFit Home Workout.
Kill it with a skillet in Week 2 of our CultFit Home Workout.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

CultFit Home Workout If you got started on your 2017 New Year’s resolution last week with our CultFit Home Workout, we’re here to help you keep up the good work with Week 2. (If you missed it, it’s still not to late to start with Week 1).

All you need is your iPhone, plus your Apple Watch if you have one, and some everyday objects you’ll find around your home or office. No gym membership required. It’s a great way to get started with your fitness journey, and it only takes 10 minutes a day.

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Add new exercises to your fitness routine with CultFit Home Workout

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Give your fitness a lift in 2017 with our CultFit Home Workout
Give your fitness a lift in 2017 with our CultFit Home Workout.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

CultFit Home Workout With New Year’s Eve a distant memory, your resolutions for 2017 should now be well underway. To help keep up your good work, here’s Week 3 of our CultFit Home Workout. (If you missed it, it’s still not to late to start with Week 1).

All you need is your iPhone, plus your Apple Watch if you have one, and some everyday objects you’ll find around your home or office. No gym membership is required. It’s a great way to get started with your fitness journey — and it only takes 10 minutes a day.

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Supersets will take your fitness to the next level with CultFit Home Workout

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It's crunch time for your fitness resolutions.
It's crunch time for your fitness resolutions.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

CultFit Home Workout It’s the fourth and final week of our CultFit Home Workout. Congratulations if you have made it this far. (If you missed it, it’s still not to late to start with Week 1).

For this easy home workout, all you need is your iPhone and some everyday objects you’ll find around your home or office (plus your Apple Watch if you have one). No gym membership is required. It’s a great way to get started with your fitness journey — and it only takes 10 minutes a day.

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As fitness trackers converge, everyone’s sprinting toward confusion

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Fitbit Alta Fitness Tracker GG
Is it an activity tracker, a sport watch, a smartwatch or all three?
Photo: Fitbit

2016 has been a tough year for fitness trackers, with scientists questioning their effectiveness and headlines boldly proclaiming that “fitness trackers don’t work.”

And yet, sales of fitness trackers are healthier than ever, while struggling smartwatch makers are desperately trying to reposition their gadgets to muscle into the fitness market. So what is going on? If fitness trackers really don’t work, why are consumers still buying them?

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Are smartwatches doomed?

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swimmer wearing apple watch
Is fitness really all that Apple Watch is fit for?
Photo: Apple

The writing has been on the wall for smartwatches ever since Cupertino chose to focus on sports and fitness features for Apple Watch Series 2. Smartwatch sales are plummeting, and fitness seems to be the only profitable area remaining in the wearables sector.

More evidence of this trend emerged this week, with smartwatch trailblazer Pebble reportedly being acquired by fitness wearables specialist Fitbit. We might very well be witnessing the demise of the smartwatch as we know it.

So how did we get here? Is Apple Watch really only fit for fitness, or could it still one day fulfill its destiny and become a true wrist-based computing platform?

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