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.

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.

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?

The ultimate runner’s review of Apple Watch Series 2

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Is Apple Watch Series 2 the perfect running partner?
Is Apple Watch Series 2 the perfect running partner?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

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.

Set up your new Apple Watch to max out your fitness gains

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Get in shape with your new Apple Watch
Get in shape with your new Apple Watch.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If you’ve just bought a shiny new Apple Watch Series 2, hoping it will help you get in shape, then here’s some advice: Invest a little time setting it up so your wearable is tailored to your personal fitness level and goals.

These quick and easy setup tips will help you get the most out of your Apple Watch fitness routine.

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from the new Cult of Mac Fitness Handbook. It’s coming soon, loaded with iPhone and Apple Watch fitness tips — and it will be exclusively free for Cult of Mac readers.

Is Apple Watch Series 2 a good option for runners?

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Apple Watch Nike+
There's more to a great running watch than GPS, but it's a good place to start.
Photo: Apple

With the addition of GPS, you might imagine Apple Watch is now a credible runner’s watch. Not so fast.

It may have made a big splash with swimmers, but to appeal to runners, there are more issues that Apple needs to address. Like a screen that stays on while you are running, and controls that still work when you get really sweaty.

Why did Nike ruin its beautiful running app?

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Nike has turned its running app into a dodgy mashup of Instagram and Snapchat
Nike has turned its running app into a dodgy mashup of Instagram and Snapchat
Photo: Graham Bower / Cult of Mac

All hell broke loose last week when Nike relaunched its much loved Nike+ Running app with a new offering called “Nike+ Run Club.” Plagued with bugs, sluggish performance and missing features, this update has infuriated some of Nike’s most loyal users, including me. Nike+ Running used to have an impressive 4.5 star rating on the App Store. Since the update, this has plummeted to just 1.5 stars. And Nike’s Facebook and Twitter accounts are now flooded with gripes.

So what happened? How could a single update turn one of the best iPhone running apps into one of the worst?

Fitness apps obsess over running, but is it really good for you?

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To run, or not to run? That is the question.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Millions of people go running with their iPhone or Apple Watch every day. Logging runs is one of the main features of just about every fitness gadget on the market.

So should you join the sweaty masses and start using a running app? Not so fast. Not everyone is suited to running, and it won’t develop all aspects of your fitness. Plus, there are loads of other kinds of exercise you could be doing instead. What makes running so special?

Put your fitness to the ultimate test with Apple Watch

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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

If you want to get in shape, the best way to get started is with some fitness testing. That might sound challenging, but luckily your Apple Watch is all you need to test yourself to the limit.

Fitness tests enable you to establish a baseline so you can see how your physical condition improves over time. And if you are already a fitness fanatic, regular testing enables you to identify areas of weakness and optimize your training program. Here’s how to make the Apple Watch a part of your essential fitness testing.

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?