It’s Runner’s Week at Cult of Mac. Every day this week, I’m reviewing a different running app for Apple Watch in an effort to help you decide which app belongs on your wrist to log all your sweaty miles.
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.
With the launch of a GPS watch, and a renewed Nike partnership, Apple is getting serious about targeting runners. So is Apple Watch Series 2 the perfect running partner that Cupertino promises?
As an avid runner myself, I was keen to find out. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been training for the TCS New York City Marathon, and I took my Apple Watch Series 2 with me every step of the way — right up to the finish line in Central Park last week. Here’s how it measured up.
Sports apparel makers clearly believe that fitness apps are an important part of their futures. Under Armour and Adidas have invested heavily in fitness apps, and Runkeeper’s recent acquisition by ASICS is just the latest in a long series of app acquisitions by apparel makers.
These companies have big brands and deep pockets. Can an indie developer realistically compete with all that? Gareth Nettleton, VP of marketing for indie fitness app Strava, tells me that like any serious athlete, his hard-charging company thrives on competition.
Apple has got its fitness strategy all wrong. It sees Apple Watch as a computing platform rather than a device, and so it promotes third-party apps instead of making better built-in ones of its own.
That may be a fine strategy for Macs and iPhones, but it just does not work for watches and fitness trackers. Relying on third-party fitness apps means spending far too long staring at the spinning dots of death (the Watch equivalent of a spinning beachball), when we should be working out.
Instead of offering a range of underwhelming third-party workout apps, what Apple Watch really needs is one great built-in app that integrates with popular fitness platforms like Runtastic and MapMyRun.
There are so many iPhone apps for runners, it’s hard to decide which one to use. Should you go for a familiar brand like Nike, or a specialist like Runkeeper?
Ultimately, all running apps do pretty much the same thing: They use GPS to track how far and how fast you run. But when you take a closer look, their features and prices vary considerably. So I’ve done the leg work for you, to help you find the right running app faster.
Apple Watch gives you three goals: standing, moving and exercise. But these aren’t really goals. They are actually more like targets.
A real goal is something you want to achieve — an outcome you have in mind that is so important, it motivates you into action. Starting a fitness program without this kind of goal is like going on a road trip without any idea of your destination. Maybe you’ll arrive someplace nice, but don’t count on it.
So when it comes to fitness, the big question is: What are you trying to achieve?