Nike Run Club Adds NEW Widgets & Complications to Apple Watch – TODAY
This post is a twofer. Two for one. Bear with me, I promise it will get more enlightening and less Apple-y toward the end!
I’m going to talk about the on-watch experience of the Nike Run Club app for Watch OS plus explain a little bit about today’s announcement from Nike…they have some new widgets for you. Everyone loves a widget. And if they don’t love widgets they love complications. Yep. Nike has given you some complications too. I’ll explain a bit about them later on as well and they are worth getting to know about as many (most) app companies simply don’t make them. They should. They’re cool. Even the competing SPORTS watchmakers to the Apple Watch should add one or two for those people who have an Apple Watch as well – Polar…Wahoo…Suunto…this means you. Garmin…this doesn’t mean you.
My Nike Story
I’m not a Nike fan by a long chalk, nor am I an Apple Watch fan for sports. I had to hunt really hard through my drawers to get some Nike branded props for the images here, that said whatever you think about Nike they tend to do things well. They broke the 2-hour marathon barrier with ‘those shoes’ and the Oregon Project definitely turned out some good results as well as ‘other stuff’.
My interest today is where they are going with NRC, their app for iOS and the Apple Watch.
I remember a couple of years back when sportswear companies were buying sports apps for crazy sums. Interesting times. At about the same time I knew people, who knew people who were developing a secret Nike app. I guess that was the first smartphone app they produced and they have taken things on from there in leaps and bounds focussing a little on community, a lot on cross-selling apparel and a decent amount on guided training.
Perhaps one of the key reasons for their success was the partnership with Apple. Two companies who think they’re cool, cooling it up together. I was sceptical at first. The AW2 Nike+ seemed to be different in name only. A few years on and I fell for the AW4 Nike and recently the Apple Watch SE Nike edition. The Apple Watch SE Nike is the SE Version in all but name only. OK it comes in a different box and it has a unique and very pretty sports strap but don’t forget the pièce de résistance…the unique watch face. I have a special Nike watch face that no-one else can use unless they have a Nike version of the AW…yep, even the expensive Hermes edition can’t display my watch faces.
And before you ask, yes that strap and watch face do make me faster. I think.
The Nike Run Club (NRC) App on Apple Watch
If you want the Garmin-of-all Apple Watch sports apps then you’d definitely go for iSmoothRun. It has features galore. Heck, even its power-meter supporting, dropbox-exporting features have sub-features.
By comparison, the NRC app seems somewhat Spartan on the features front. When the first AW sports apps came out they were all pretty much identical. Like this. Just simple displays and a workout summary but only if you were lucky. All the effort went into building the iOS app. Historically that made sense but now that the Apple Watch can be most definitely untethered from the GPS on the smartphone or even connect to the net all by itself with LTE then the standalone Apple Watch is crying out for ever-more on-watch functionality.
You don’t quite get iSmoothRun levels of features from Nike Run Club.
But it is a stable and pretty app. There are nice colours and eminently readable fonts. OK, you get HR, cadence and pace and that is probably enough data for most people while they’re running.
However, there IS a rather sweet set of cuddly running features wrapped around all of this.
First up there is voice coaching from a coach who doesn’t always take himself so seriously. A coach that adds some motivational personality without going over the top like next week’s Apple Fitness+ instructors look like they will. The coach takes you through workouts that you can easily download, nothing fancy but enough to introduce the variety that casual runners will need. And there are WAY more casual runners than some of us more serious ones.
Secondly, obviously, you can just flick across to the music controls. Obviously. It’s written in Apple Running Law that you have to play music whilst running, especially indoors. If you run on a treadmill without music I think the aforesaid law prescribes a particularly grizzly punishment.
Thirdly you can race against your last run to do just that little bit better or you can spec basic distances or time. Standard stuff. But useful stuff.
Fourthly. You are not running alone. You get CHEERS AND CELEBRATIONS. Not just cheers. That’s cheers AND celebrations. It’s important to have both.
Oh, you want to know what they are. Ah. Well. You notify your buddies as you embark on your run and they can ping you back with words of encouragement, just as Liz has done in the image on the right. Thank you, Liz.
Finally, the guided training adapts as you progress. So it all looks simple on the face of it but there is some clever stuff probably going on under the hood.
Whilst the app is nothing new. The widgets were announced a couple of days ago and my app only got updated today.
New NRC widgets display your personalized run stats on the home screen of your iPhone. Show your colours with the Run Level widget, and see your post-run progress with the Last Run widget. Add the new Quickstart widget to your screen and make it even easier to start your next run.
What that means is that you can add any of these screen widgets pretty much anywhere on your iPhone except in a folder. These widgets are like the regular icons you already have except some are larger and they all have dynamic content permanently visible. For example, the last run widget always shows the results of your last run.
The announcement made no mention of the new additions to the Apple Watch. Yet, additions there are.
The Apple Watch has complications. A complication is effectively the same as a widget but rather on a watchface. I think Nike has missed a trick here as the number of complications is limited to 3. Having said that, they are in a different format to the widgets and pretty cool, IMO.
The NRC Apple Watch App is geared toward mass-market runners and is perfectly fit for purpose. It’s simply, yet neatly designed but with good motivational and guidance features wrapped around the core running functionality. Albeit slightly sparse core running functionality.
Nike’s widgets and complications still have a way to go but they are superior to those offered by most other iOS and WatchOS app makers. #Kudos.
Wahoo, Polar, Suunto (maybe) and others are missing a trick here. Widgets and complications are a way to plaster your customers’ sports data all over their phones and watches. #VISIBILITY.
Let’s take a Polar owner as an example. Perhaps the Polar owner also has an Apple Watch. When considering that next long run that ‘doesn’t really matter’ which will they wear? the 24×7 Apple that’s usually on their wrist or yours (Polar)? Yet if the Polar customer’s workout data is permanently in the customer’s face then, just as with the example of the Nike complication for ‘run streak’, that’s going to make some people more likely to use their Polar watch to keep that run streak going…there are similar arguments along those lines but I think the point still stands. It’s free advertising that will help customer retention.
C’mon guys. Get coding. Give me some complications and widgets. Definitely widgets.