How Apple Watch could shape up for fitness at WWDC [Mockups]

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It’s about time Apple Watch got a Workout buddy
It’s about time Apple Watch got a Workout buddy
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

When it comes to fitness apps on Apple Watch, sometimes it feels like Cupertino is running before it can walk. Fancy new features like Heart Rate Recovery are very welcome, but a few of the basics remain missing.

Apple could make major strides when it releases watchOS 5. So in the second of three posts about the future of watchOS, I’ll focus on five essential fitness features I’m hoping we’ll see at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

Take your running to new heights with the altimeter in Apple Watch Series 3

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Workout segments in watchOS 4, combined with the altimeter in Series 3 males your Apple Watch the perfect companion for hill training.
Workout segments in watchOS 4, combined with the altimeter in Series 3 males your Apple Watch the perfect companion for hill training.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Are you taking full advantage of all the neat new features in your shiny Series 3 Apple Watch? Cellular connectivity grabbed the headlines, but that isn’t the only hardware addition Cupertino managed to cram into a wearable that was already bristling with sensors.

Apple Watch Series 3 models also boast a barometric altimeter. If you think you don’t need one of those, think again. The altimeter makes Series 3 watches the ideal companion for hill workouts. That’s a type of training you really should be doing but probably aren’t.

Gorilla Workout proves you don’t need the gym to get fit

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By taking the gym and equipment out of the equation, this workout app makes it easier to stay motivated.
By taking the gym and equipment out of the equation, this workout app makes it easier to stay motivated.
Photo: Heckr LLC

This hidden Apple Watch feature tells you if your workouts are doing any good

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It’s not about how far you run, it’s how fast you recover. Apple Watch heart rate recovery data gives you the facts.
It’s not about how far you run, it's about how fast you recover.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

It’s all very well to know how far you ran, cycled and swam. But the whole point of exercise is not just to clock the miles. It’s supposed to make you more fit. So, how do you know if all those sweaty miles are actually doing any good? One way is by measuring your heart rate recovery time.

Fortunately, watchOS 4 provides a reliable way to see this data, and thus monitor changes in your fitness level. Here’s how you can use Apple Watch to keep your workout goals on track.

How to set up Apple’s Health app to unlock its awesome fitness potential

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Turn the iPhone Health app into a dashboard for your body
Turn the iPhone Health app into a dashboard for your body
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If you think the Health app is just another pointless junk app that comes preinstalled on your iPhone, think again. Unlike Stocks, Compass or Tips, it is one of the few apps that Apple won’t let you delete. Set up the Apple Health app properly, and it becomes a powerful tool for getting (or staying) fit.

You see, the Health app lies at the heart of Cupertino’s growing health and fitness ambitions. And with its underlying HealthKit API, the Health app provides the framework that Apple Watch uses to gather data on your daily activity, heart rate and workouts.

But the Health app is more than just a place for storing data. With every iOS update, Apple makes major improvements to it. So, if you still think the Health app is a waste of space, it’s probably time you gave it another look. Especially if you own an Apple Watch. You’ll find it contains loads of useful, well-presented data that can help you achieve your fitness goals.

Why it sucks when fitness apps don’t share your workout data with Apple

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Who owns your workout data?
Who owns your workout data?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

The workout data I log with my Apple Watch belongs to me. It‘s not Apple’s — nor is it Nike’s, Strava’s or anyone else’s, for that matter. It is mine. I paid for it with my own blood, sweat and tears. (OK, it’s mostly sweat, but there were some tears along the way, too.) Over the years, I’ve logged more than 18,000 miles of running data and it is something I’m pretty proud of.

So it really bugs me when mega-corporations try to corral my activity data into their fancy walled gardens, like they think they own it. Apple used to be just as guilty of this as all the other workout rustlers. But the folks in Cupertino did a major pivot in iOS 11. They decided to actually put users in control of our workout data. Apple made it easy for apps to share workout route maps with each other via HealthKit.

The trouble is, none of the major fitness apps are playing ball, and that sucks. Luckily, some indie devs are doing the right thing.

Top 10 tips for swimming with Apple Watch

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The Apple Watch touch screen is disabled in waterproof mode, so how do you finish your workout?
How to use your Apple Watch in the swimming pool when you’re soaking.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Your Apple Watch loves getting wet (provided you own a Series 2 or 3). But when you start a swimming workout, the waterproof mode kicks in automatically, which means the Apple Watch touchscreen stops working. So how are you supposed to use it?

Swimming with Apple Watch certainly takes a bit of getting used to. But if you check out our top 10 tips before you dive in, you’ll discover your smartwatch is almost as indispensable in the pool as your Speedo. Almost.

Apple’s Workout app is perfect, except for one thing [Runner’s Week: Day 6]

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Apple's Workout app is the best watch app for runners by far. But...
Apple's Workout app is the best watch app for runners by far. But...
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Runner's Week It’s Runner’s Week at Cult of Mac. All this week, I’ve been reviewing the best Apple Watch running apps. So far we’ve looked at Nike+ Run Club, Runkeeper, Strava, Runtastic and MapMyRun.

Today, it’s time to put Apple’s built-in Workout app through its paces. Let’s see how it measures up against the competition.