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WatchOS 3 Win: The Workout App

So, last week was WWDC week, only one of the two most important weeks for Apple fanboys (the other being the 2nd week of September when Apple hosts their fall event to refresh most of their hardware and make me look at my iDevices with contempt for not being as awesome as the new ones announced). The jittery Kevin Lynch and the always suave Hair Force One (seriously Craig, what gel do you apply to those hair?) announced new versions of WatchOS, iOS and OS X macOS (I don’t care much about tvOS because owning an Apple TV in India would be like owning the costliest Chromecast in the world). And like any self-respecting fanboy, I spent a larger part of the next day helping clog Apple’s servers to download the newest betas on my iPhone 6s Plus and Apple Watch (didn’t download macOS Sierra because it is too much pain to do so).

Now, one week later, I’ve got a first-hand taste of what Apple is doing with these OS updates and like every coin, my perspective about these updates has two sides. There a lot of things that I’m happy about (I’m an optimist), but there are still a few things that I’d want included in these ‘biggest update ever’ releases to iOS and WatchOS. Over the next few months, I’ll be using these betas as my daily drivers (yes, I like living on the edge!) and sharing a list of ‘wins’ and ‘wants’ for both these OS releases and will also file radars and feature requests with Apple. Hopefully, Kevin and Craig are sitting glued to their retina displays and refreshing their email every minute to hear/read what I have to say/write.

Let’s begin with my favorite device in the current Apple lineup, the Apple Watch. I was a student of the ‘it is too costly for what it does and is just a first-gen product’ school of thought about the Apple Watch till I went through a couple of fitness bands and one Pebble to realize that Apple Watch provided the most complete experience in the three things that I wanted my wearable device to do (map my fitness, show me notifications well and look cool). So, I got one in March this year and I’ve been hooked since.

But, this journey hasn’t been as bump-less as the journeys with my previous Apple products. The biggest issue I’ve had with the Apple Watch is the support, or the lack thereof, that it provides in-workout. The Apple Watch had quickly turned into an object of frustration for me during workouts with the constant double-lag to see your stats (raise your wrist, wait for the watch to contact your phone and update your in-run stats, get hit by a truck because you weren’t paying attention to where you were going!), the inconsistency in those stats showing up (Workout, Runkeeper, Nike+, Strava, Runtastic, iSmoothRun all these apps have been guilty of this at some point or the other. But, hey, I got to try out and explore all running apps out there. Optimist, remember?), having to swipe through 3 screens and then wait 10 seconds to see my heart-rate in the Workouts app and the excrutiating frustration of having to wait for my running app of the day to launch, connect to the phone and begin a run (as compared to just running). I was on my way to write a 1000-word hate-story about this when WWDC happened and Apple announced that apps, especially Workout, would keep running in the background and would surface stats instantly during a workout and the Workout app would also show upto 5 stats at once now. I had gotten burnt before and wasn’t going to let Kevin and his team off the hook so easily. But I was intrigued by the balm they were offering to heal my wounds and decided to see for myself if their tall claims would be met by my tiny Apple Watch.

Workouts-2
Maps in Workouts.. Yayy! Also, I’m getting faster!

And how they did! I have been using the stock Workout app on WatchOS 3 to log my workouts (outdoor cycling, elliptical and outdoor running) for the last one week and I’m blown! The app launches lightning quick (and it is even faster if you keep it on your dock, a topic for another day). Workouts start, pause and stop lightning quick, there is no double lag (only the lag where you turn your wrist to turn the display on. People seem to hate this bit, but I actually like the fact that the display isn’t always on. Again, a topic for another day), and the updated stats show up every single time (the feeling you get when you see your distance increase while you are running and not every 5 minutes is one of pure ecstasy). And ya, the workouts section in the Activity app is more feature-rich now. Individual workouts show a map of route and the section imports workouts from the Health.app that any other workout app may have recorded, ever. There are also monthly summaries of your activities that can be filtered by types of activities too. Now, if only we could get these stats everywhere through iCloud like my friend Matt Birchler’s concept and also get the option to export workouts as .gpx or .tcx files (time for filing a radar).

Workouts-3
Summary of all activities for the year.

It’s not to say that these are ground-shattering features. They should have shipped with WatchOS 1 and have been present for a long time in competing services and devices. But we, the Apple fanboys, are a kind-hearted lot. We support Apple and help them find their feet with their new product hoping that they’ll deliver what we want and more often than not, they deliver in style! Here’s hoping that next three months bring even more goodies for us and make the Apple Watch reach the glory that we all want it to.

2 Comments

  1. […] are my ‘wants’ in my dream to create the Apple-driven-utopia that I want my gadget-life to be. The new Workout app is already a win for me. But one thing that I really want, and it is related to where I spend 87% […]

  2. […] also get that system-wide night node in iOS 10. Another game-changer is the updated Activity app. watchOS 3 brought more detailed workout summaries on the iPhone app along with weather information and maps of routes, the 4th beta gives us the […]

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