6 lessons Apple Watch could learn from rival fitness trackers

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Apple Watch Activity
What would it take for Apple Watch to lap competing fitness trackers?
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

I’ve started cheating on my Apple Watch. It’s not that I don’t love it. It’s amazingly beautiful. It does stuff I didn’t even know I’d like. But when it comes to running wild in the outdoors, I’ve found a smartwatch that satisfies me more than Jony Ive’s wearable does.

For the past week I’ve been testing the Garmin Fenix 3, a top-of-the-line smartwatch from a company that’s made a name for itself by providing runners and outdoorsmen with some of the best wrist-worn fitness tech. I hate wearing the Fenix 3. While Apple Watch gently caresses my wrist, the Fenix 3 feels like I’ve strapped a tank to it. Yet it boasts features Apple Watch doesn’t have that I’m starting to think I can’t live without on runs and hikes.

I don’t plan to completely break up with the Apple Watch anytime soon, but I’m ditching it during my four-day trek through the Grand Canyon this weekend because there are still a couple things it needs to learn before it can truly be the best all-around fitness tracker.

How gadgets helped me go from dad bod to six pack

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Third-party fitness apps will finally become fully fledged Watch apps.
Fitness gadgets saved my life. Sort of.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

I used to live the classic geek lifestyle, forever hunched over a MacBook, munching on comfort food. Until one day cancer forced me to take my health more seriously.

Now I run marathons and lift weights for fun. But the geek is still strong in me. From GPS watches to bioelectrical impedance analyzers, I’ve used pretty much every kind of fitness gadget.

Here’s the story of how fitness gear helped me get in shape for the first time in my life and swap my middle-aged dad bod for a six pack.

What does ‘fitness’ mean and why does it matter?

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Apple Watch Activity
What exactly are fitness trackers tracking?
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Many people say they want to get fit, but what does this actually mean? Fit for what?

The websites of leading fitness trackers, like Apple Watch, Fitbit, Microsoft Band and Jawbone Up don’t shed much light on this question. They talk a lot about the things that their devices measure, and even suggest changes in how we go about our day, but they rarely explain why this matters or what the actual benefits are.

Fitbit lists Apple Watch as risk to investors in IPO filing

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Apple Watch Activity
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Fitbit is looking to make a splash on Wall Street by filing to go public. The company behind the Flex activity trackers announced it is looking to raise $100 million in an initial public offering later this year.

Fitbit sold 10.2 million devices last year, and is the first wearable technology company to go public. But now that Apple Watch is available to the public, Fibit is warning investors in its filing that it could potentially be “more competitive than our products and services.”

Full quote below:

Can Apple Watch really help you get fit?

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Swatch has an answer for Apple Watch. Photo: Apple
Swatch has an answer for Apple Watch. Photo: Apple

With Apple Watch about to become a reality, recent reports have questioned the benefits of fitness trackers, highlighting their inaccuracy and even claiming they make you fat.

So can wearables like Apple Watch really help you get fit? From my experience, what’s in your heart is more important than what’s on your wrist — but gadgets still have a role to play.

FDA is taking a ‘hands-off approach’ to Apple Watch

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Apple Watch isn't being too closely, err, watched. Photo: Apple
Apple Watch isn't being too closely, err, watched. Photo: Apple

The Food and Drug Administration is in a tough spot when it comes to health-tracking wearables. As the U.S. government agency in charge of regulating medical devices, it can’t promote health-oriented technology that doesn’t do what it claims, but it also doesn’t want to stifle innovation at a time when Silicon Valley is finally turning its attention to the field.

That’s why, according to a new report, the FDA is giving the tech industry, and particularly tech giants like Apple, leeway to develop new products without aggressive regulation.

Survival of the fittest: Apple Watch versus fitness trackers

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Will Apple Watch win the fitness-tracking race? Photo: Nathan Rupert/Flickr CC
Will Apple Watch win the fitness-tracking race? Photo: Nathan Rupert/Flickr CC

Apple Watch is entering the race to become the leader in wearable tech. And dedicated fitness trackers like the Nike+ FuelBand, Fitbit and Jawbone Up may struggle to keep up with Cupertino’s pace.

Few people remember the MP3 players that iPod left in its wake. Smartphones overtaken by iPhone shared a similar dismal fate. Could fitness wearables be next on the endangered list?

Withings’ new Activité Pop is a smartwatch you’ll actually want to wear

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Withings smart watch is one of the best looking wearables around. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Withings smart watch is one of the best looking wearables around. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
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LAS VEGAS — The problem with the state of smartwatches, beyond the sucky software, is that they’re all ugly. The Apple Watch might very well be the first wearable that not only works, but looks good too, although we won’t know for sure until the finished product is on our wrists this spring.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 There were dozens and dozens of smartwatches displayed on the sprawling show floor at International CES last week, but the only one that looked good enough to adorn my wrist was the new Withings Activité Pop.

It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of fancier watches like the Samsung Galaxy Gear, but it’s not your average dumb watch either. And for now, just a smidgen smarter is smart enough.

Jawbone’s UP Move is the best entry-level fitness tracker yet

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One of the neatest things about Jawbone's UP Move is just how versatile it is. You can clip it on anywhere.  Photo: Jawbone
One of the neatest things about Jawbone's UP Move is just how versatile it is. You can clip it anywhere. Photo: Jawbone

One of the great things about the world of fitness trackers post-Apple Watch (or, at least, post-Apple Watch announcement) is that we’re seeing how different companies are trying to insure themselves against Cupertino’s high-end luxury lifestyle tracker.

Jawbone recently answered this question by launching its UP Move: It’s an entry-level fitness wearable that may lack the bells and whistles of the Apple Watch, but is also, at $49.99, shy a couple of zeroes in the price tag department.