On the 9th March 2015, Apple announced the arrival of their long awaited and much anticipated Apple Watch (note: It’s NOT called an iWatch). The media (especially Twitter) was awash with Apple related hashtags and related articles, blog posts and vlogs.
So, with prices ranging from £299 to £8,000, what do those in the fitness industry get for their investment in this hotly awaited wearable technology?
WHAT ABOUT COMPATIBILITY?
First off, unless you have an iPhone 5 upward, preferably with iOS 8, you may as well put your cash back in your wallet. The Apple Watch is not the most compatible of devices and Apple tend to keep their technology on a forward trajectory, they DON’T go retro when it comes to iOS.
For research purposes and as we are gym loving freaks, we’re going to focus our attention on the Apple Watch Sport version of the device.
The exterior casing of The Sport collection is made from lightweight anodised aluminium (supposedly 60% stronger than standard alloys) and is available in silver and space grey colouring (yep, we don’t know what the difference is either).
The display is protected by strengthened Ion-X glass, so we’re pretty hopeful that, unlike your trusty iPhone5, the face of this time piece won’t shatter every time you place it face down on your desk.
WHAT ABOUT THE APPS?
The Health and Fitness side of the Apple Watch seems, on the face of it (spot the pun), to offer quite a wide range of useful and not too gimmicky apps that are perfect for the everyday athlete.
The Apple Watch measures all of the ways you move using the Activity app, from walking the dog, to running up the stairs. It can also track every time you stand up, which should encourage you to stay active. The Activity app gives you a snapshot of your activity on a daily basis, with a set of 3 rings. The Move ring shows you how many calories you’ve burned, the Exercise ring shows you how many minutes of higher intensity activity you’ve completed and the Stand ring shows you how often you’ve stood up and taken a break from being a couch potato. What’s the goal? To complete a ring every day!
The Apple Watch also includes the much talked about features from recent tech shows. There’s the Heart Rate Sensor, which detects your heart rate during workouts, helps to determine the intensity of the exercise and gives you a pretty accurate calorie burn measurement.
Then there’s the WiFi and GPS. Because, you’ll need to know where you’re actually running to while burning off all those calories, right? The Apple Watch utilises the GPS and WiFi from your iPhone5 to accurately measure distance and speed when you’re walking, running or cycling.
On top of all of these great apps, there’s the Accelerometer. This measures your body’s total movement and steps to calculate the calories you’re burning during each activity. It measures a wide range of physical movement from simply standing up to running to catch the bus.
WHAT ABOUT MEASURING GOALS, IS THAT POSSIBLE?
Yes! The Apple Watch lets you set your own Goals, you can repeat them, increase them or decrease them. You can even choose different goals based on distance, time or how many calories you want to burn.
During your exercise, the Apple Watch also provides you with Progress Updates, letting you know each time you hit a mile or when you’re half way to reaching your goal. It’s like a Personal Trainer on your wrist!
At the end of all of this, the Apple Watch gives you a Workout Summary that shows you how far you’ve gone, how many calories you’ve burned and all of the stats you need to know to track your fitness.
The Apple Watch has also been designed to include coaching reminders that help you to reach your Move, Exercise and Stand goals every day. Thus allowing you to set your own milestones and set realistic targets for your training.
The Apple Watch also includes digital badges, every time you reach an achievement. Yet more encouragement!
IS THERE THIRD PARTY INTEGRATION?
Again, yes! The Apple Watch records all of your activity and progress in easy to read infographics. The watch can then share your activity and workout data with the Activity App on your iPhone, where it can be accessed by your chosen third party health and fitness apps. Of course, that is subject to you agreeing via the permissions panel.
Is the Apple Watch value for money? It’s hard to say without getting our hands on the device. It looks great, it’s fully compatible for iPhone 5 and 6 lovers but with a starting price of £299, this is a relatively expensive piece of wrist jewellery. You’ll probably want to take out the extra insurance, if available on the day of purchase.
There are dozens of alternatives out there but for fitness experts, accuracy is going to be key! If the Apple Watch proves not to be as accurate as it claims, then the fitness industry will be quick to terminate the love affair with this particular type of wearable technology.
Our verdict: Expensive but a cool fitness accessory if you’ve got the pennies in the bank.