Apple Watch News – with a SPORTS twist
Here are some quality rumours about new sports features on the Apple Watch plus a quick heads-up on two Apple Watch sports apps I’ve been using recently and an interesting techy tip. I’ve already used watchOS 8 beta for over a month and there are quite a few new official features that have sports implications, so I am hopeful that September’s redesigned Apple Watch hardware will have many more feature goodies than last year.
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Fitness+ Service to Expand
The Apple Fitness+ service was launched last year to mesh larger Apple screens, your Apple Watch, Apple Music and, of course, video instructions to take you through workouts. Let’s just say ‘ahem’ and avoid talking about the dearth of meshing of Apple GymKit….at least for now.
It’s a paid-for service and that’s OK. Having used it for over a month I can definitely see its value to some people.
Anyway, Apple expanded their service with a Time to Walk feature which is essentially a small series of curated, celebrity, offline podcasts to listen to while you walk.
It looks like the new addition to Fitness+ will be Time to Run. (Source: Gurman). This will be part of the paid-for service.
We could probably speculate that it is likely to include music to match the tempo of your run. Apple could get very clear with matching the beat to your run cadence or to the phases of your workout but, likely, they’ll just be playing an upbeat music playlist tailored to your listening history on Apple Music 😉
Breathe/Mindfulness App to expand
The breathe app is a source of manually created HRV points for some apps. Not everyone knows that and most of its users are people having a quick meditation and that’s why watchOS 8 sees this particular feature renamed to the Mindfulness app. You can still log a minute or so of guided breathing there and you can also perform a longer mindfulness piece. Whilst many of us might scoff at this we might be unwise to do so.
I recently used some proper HRV science and tools with the HRV4Biofeedback app (Altini) where it is readily possible to correlate HRV changes to changes in mood as well as to determine your optimal resonant breathing frequency and use that to acutely improve HRV through guided breathing.
watchOS 8 does include new respiration rate metrics. Not interesting in and of themselves but other apps and new apps will be able to fuse this data with other data from the watch to get new recovery and fitness insights.
It looks like the new addition to the Mindfulness app will be some form of audio meditation. This will be free but might require an Apple Music subscription.
Dash Timer for Apple Watch
I’d prefer to call the Dash Timer app the Track App, or similar. These images don’t do the full feature set justice but let’s start with them to give you a flavour.
A great track tool is the built-in ‘Atheltic Stop Watch’ which is easily stopped/started with a tap to add to your display of laps/efforts.
Some of the beauty of the stopwatch is linked to how the haptics work to avoid accidental presses and also to allow precise timings of other people’s efforts by ending a lap after an extended screen press. It’s hard to explain…download it…it’s free and it’s designed for runners by a track runner.
Timed haptics includes the ability to let the watch tap you, say, every 20 seconds to ensure that you can check on your lap progress without initiating a lap event and without having to look at the screen…you’re running fast on the track, right? Can Garmin do that…nope, not yet.
There’s also a countdown feature to let you respond to starts from the blocks.
Finally, other standard features let you customise workout metrics and let you toggle specific metrics with a tap in the appropriate quadrant of the screen.
App Store: Download the Dash Timer for free.
Watchsmith is a complex utility app for Apple Watch. In truth, I don’t quite ‘get it’ in its entirety and I think I’m missing out on some of the power it hides.
However, what I have seen is nice. You can create custom complications and even complications that disappear from your watchface at certain times of the day. It’s worth a look if you want to have a techy play with watchfaces.
After spending some time playing with this app I eventually discovered how to create my ‘bike prep’ watch face. That’s where I show two complications: one is the upcoming hourly wind strength & direction and the other is the time-to-rain.
The main reason for mentioning WatchSmith was that I then discovered Workouts++ by the same developer.
There are a few things I like about Workouts++. Firstly there was the ‘Recorded Routes’ section of the iOS app which is actually a personalised full route map…#StravaStyle, like a personal heatmap. One of those things that’s nice to see for a few seconds before you move on.
then there is the ability to curate screen layouts. It just seems more interesting to me when I look at how this is achieved on the rectangular watch face of the Apple Watch compared to circular watch faces. The end results are OK, although the fonts do seem too small compared to the real estate that’s available. The colouration options are nice and not typically found elsewhere on SPORTS watches.
Finally, there were some interestingly styled heart rate charts that you can just about make out on the third image, above. but which look super nice.
App Store: Download Workouts++ (99c, 89p)