Can Apple Watch get you in shape? Here’s what the science says.

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Does the Apple Watch activity app have all the answers?
Does the Apple Watch activity app have all the answers?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If you’ve considering buying a shiny new Apple Watch Series 2, you might be wondering if it can really help you to get in shape. Especially if you’ve seen the recent headlines claiming that fitness trackers don’t work.

So what does science really have to say about wearables? I decided to investigate the science behind Apple Watch fitness assumptions.

How to share, compare, compete with watchOS 3’s Activity rings

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Get set to test yourself to the limit with your Apple Watch.
Get set to test yourself to the limit with your Apple Watch.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch is getting a ton of new features this fall for fitness freaks, giving wearers the ability to not only track their own fitness better than ever, but also go head-to-head with other Apple Watch-loving friends.

With iOS 10 and watchOS 3, Apple Watch owners can share their Activity rings to view each other’s progress and compete to be fittest person in the clique. Here’s how to get started:

Apple Watch is getting better at fitness tracking, but it still sucks for running

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Activity app rocks. Workout app sucks.
Activity app rocks. Workout app sucks.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

At WWDC this week, Apple all but confirmed that Apple Watch is really just a health gadget. Tim Cook described it offhandedly as a “device for a healthy life,” and most of the watchOS 3 segment of the keynote was devoted to health and fitness.

This focus on health makes sense. As an activity tracker, Apple Watch is arguably the best on the market, and watchOS 3 will make it even better. Apple’s wearable is ideal if you are simply looking to live a healthier day. But, despite some minor improvements, Apple Watch still sucks if you are into running.

Will Fitbit’s ‘magic number’ really step up your fitness game?

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Where will Fitbit’s 10,000 steps a day lead you?
Where will Fitbit’s 10,000 steps a day lead you?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Fitbit reported its best-ever holiday sales this week, but investors are fretting because the wearable maker’s guidance for the current quarter is lower than expected. Some analysts are questioning whether Fitbit can hold its own against competition from Cupertino.

Apple Watch has proved to be a fantastic fitness tracker for many Cult of Mac readers. So I was curious to find out how Fitbit’s trackers compare. They may be cheaper than Apple Watch, but are they as effective at promoting healthy habits?

The holidays might ruin your Apple Watch fitness streak. Good.

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All good streaks must come to an end
All good streaks must come to an end
Photo: Graham Bower / Cult of Mac

For many of us, Christmas is a time for relaxing with family, sitting in front of the TV, overindulging and generally moving as little as possible. In other words, all the things your Apple Watch hates you doing.

So if you have a nice streak going in the Activity app, chances are it is about to come to an abrupt end. And that may not be a bad thing.

Running without iPhone makes Apple Watch inaccurate

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Don’t leave me this way - Apple recommends you take your iPhone with you on a run
Don’t leave me this way - Apple recommends you take your iPhone with you on a run
Photo: Graham Bower / Cult of Mac

Runkeeper is one of the first big-name running apps to offer full watchOS 2 support, which means you can log a run on your Apple Watch even if you leave your iPhone behind.

The Apple Watch’s built-in Workout app has always offered this feature, but it is new for third-party apps. I had never tried it before, but Runkeeper got me curious. So I left my iPhone charging at home, put on a pair of Nikes and went out for a run.

Why I’m cheating on my Apple Watch

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I now wear two watches when I’m running. Seriously.
Two-timer: I now wear two watches when I’m running. Seriously.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

After six months of trying to log my runs with my Apple Watch, I finally gave up and bought a dedicated GPS running watch.

There’s a lot to like about Apple’s new wearable. The Activity app, for example, is brilliant at helping people lose weight. But the truth is, as a running watch, it sucks.

Check out all these Apple Watch fitness success stories

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You can see the difference Apple Watch is having on Cult of Mac readers' lives.
You can see the difference Apple Watch is having on Cult of Mac readers' lives.
Photo: Various

Around the world, Apple Watch is helping people make life-changing improvements to their health and fitness.

I recently asked Cult of Mac readers to share their experiences getting in shape with Apple Watch, and the response has been amazing. Here are some of the inspiring stories I received — and some great insights into how you can use an Apple Watch to smash your fitness goals.

Why Apple’s Active Calories don’t add up (and how you can change that)

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In Apple's fitness apps, active calories are not the same as Move ring calories.
In Apple's fitness apps, active calories are not the same as Move ring calories.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Have you ever noticed that some of your workout data is missing from the Health app on your iPhone?

Apple’s Health app is designed to provide a central hub for all your fitness apps to save and share their data. You might assume this means all your Active Calories are added together, regardless of which app you use to log them. But the truth is not that simple — although you can tweak some hidden settings to customize what you see.

Apple’s savvy fitness plan: Build an indispensable platform

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The Activity app forms the hub of Apple’s fitness platform strategy.
The Activity app forms the hub of Apple’s fitness platform strategy.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If you compare the Apple Watch to dedicated fitness tracking devices, it comes up short, and the forthcoming watchOS 2 will do little to address these limitations. Instead, with this update Apple is focusing on helping improve third-party fitness apps.

That’s because Apple sees its wearable as the main component of a fitness platform, with the Activity app as hub. While the built-in Workout app is mostly for beginners, third-party apps will provide the missing features for hardcore users.