Apple Watch 6 – Bike Power Meter, Run Power Meter
The fancy Apple Watch 6 is pretty and all but it can’t show the data from ‘proper’ sports sensors, so ‘proper’ athletes just aren’t going to use it. Pretty and Proper just don’t go hand-in-hand. Now, where’s my Garmin?
Wait a minute…
Sadly, that’s what a lot of people think. Unfortunately, it’s simply not true. ‘Pretty‘ and ‘proper‘ really CAN go hand-in-hand. Here’s how.
iSmoothRun on the Apple Watch 6
Obviously, if you want to get bike power you go to an app that has the word ‘run’ rather than ‘bike’ in it. Obviously, you come to a site that has ‘runner’ in the title rather than ‘cyclist’. Obviously, if you want a sunny day in Washington, well… let’s just say that some of us choose less than optimal names at birth!
iSmoothRun is one of the mothers of all uber-competent running & cycling apps. Maybe it’s not as pretty and polished as other iOS/WatchOS apps but it certainly maxes out on functionality and one of its less widely-available capabilities is the ability to pair to BLE (Bluetooth) power meters, which in 2020/2021 means ‘the one you’ve probably got‘.
A Brief Taste of What iSmoothRun Can Do
iSmoothRun can do a LOT and I’m not going to delve into all the depths of the iOS app (think Mariana Trench), instead let’s go through the Watch OS app a little more.
As far as the topic of this post goes, iSmoothRun claims to pair all BLE PMs but I only tried a Shimano Dura-Ace R9100P, a STRYD running pod, Favero Assioma Duo power meter pedals and Wahoo Kickr indoor trainer. You pair those first on the smartphone app and then you can leave the smartphone behind as you run/cycle and you can see a choice of power metrics as you run/cycle. Naturally, the power data is saved and my particular preferred export route was to send a TCX file to dropbox but you could have chosen Strava or Training Peaks (apparently even Garmin Connect too! hmmm). This is all accomplished with the free version of iSmoothRun and the Pro version will do cool things like display advanced gait metrics from Stryd.
It’s not just power meters that iSmoothRun pairs to – I also had it linked to my Garmin HRM-PRO and a Wahoo Speed sensor.
iSmoothRun on Apple Watch 6 – Some Screens
A lot of big-name Apple Watch sports apps are still somewhat miserly with what they allow you to display. iSmoothRun packs in quite a bit of info on the screens and you get some nice lap and intervals stats plus some simple weekly and monthly trends. Naturally, you have several sports profiles to configure and choose from and here are a few examples, you can even ‘bold’ the text if that helps readability for you.
iSmoothRun claims to be powerful and from what I’ve seen reality DOES seem to match those claims. For example, iSmoothRun Pro already supports the downloading and execution of structured workouts/training plans from Training Peaks…even Polar and Suunto do not do that. Even if you have no need for downloading structured workouts the ability of the app to do that feature is a good indication that it covers lots of other more common features that you might need. For example, you get audio cues if you want them and you can ‘tab’ across to Apple Maps for directions.
You can track your shoes…or your weight and you can race against previous efforts (Ghost Runs)
This Apple Watch app can use either a BLE chest strap or the mostly-accurate Apple oHRM. Naturally, you can also listen to music with Apple Music/Spotify and you can configure the buttons to take laps however you want. There are over 30 metrics to display including Vertical Oscillation, Contact Time, Pedal Power Balance, Leg Stiffness, Power 10 sec average and time ahead of target. Not bad!
Who will this appeal to?
I brought you here because of iSmoothRun’s support for a wide range of sports sensors. That narrows down the number of athletes who need such features. From that subset, the super-serious wannabe athletes are still going to use sports watches, partly because of the physical format of their current watch (Garmin, Polar) but also because of the ecosystem around the watch and the physical benefits of decent battery life and buttons. But if you lost your Garmin/Polar then I hope you would agree that a triathlete borrowing their partner’s Apple Watch and sticking iSmoothRun on for a few days would be an acceptable stop-gap solution until your upgrade (I mean ‘replacement’ 😉 ) sports watch arrived.
But let’s say you are a more casual athlete who likes the productivity, conveniences and prettiness of their Apple Watch. If you are that person and are casually training for an Olympic Triathlon or Sprint Duathlon then there really is no need to splash out a few hundred dollars/quid on a sports-specific watch. Even if you did splash out on a £500 power meter then using it with the Apple Watch that you are already familiar with is no big change.
Look I’m not trying to say ‘Garmin is dead, long live Apple‘, I’m just saying that the clearly defined edges to the 2018 Sports Watch market have well and truly gone. And they are going to keep blurring over the years ahead.
This is NOT a paid-for advert, no freebies and I benefit in NO WAY from you downloading the app.
Very Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
If you use a chest strap, they’re identical! In my experience, Apple has the most accurate wrist-HR sensor, just beating Garmin.
Yes, with iSmoothRun you can configure the button or crown to take laps.
No. The battery would run out even for Chrissie Wellington.
Yes, you can with iSmoothRun
Yes but only indirectly with a 4iiii Viiiiva or NPE Cable and 3rd party app. I wouldn’t especially recommend such a ‘data bridge’ but it should work. Most modern sensors now support BLE and ANT+. iSmoothRun supports BLE and connecting via Viiiiva and Cable.
It’s really the app, iSmoothRun in this case, which supports them and iSmoothRun supports power, heart rate, speed and cadence sensors.
Apple Watch 6 has an always-on screen and you can lock that with iSmoothRun. Otherwise, it is a faff with earlier Apple Watch versions and their screen savers.