Apart from Apple’s big announcement of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the tech giant is bringing in something in early 2015 that runners might enjoy: the Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch runs on a custom Apple chip, and is equipped with an accelerometer, a heart-rate sensor, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. It will come in 3 collections: the standard collection, the Apple Watch Sport collection for fitness, and the premier Apple Watch Edition collection. All Apple Watches will come in 38mm or 42mm sizes.
Apple Watch Sport: A Quick Introduction
Apple also created a new alloy especially for the Apple Watch Sport collection. Made of lightweight anodized aluminum, and together with the special Ion-X glass covering the display, it makes the Sport collection watches up to 30 percent lighter than the other stainless steel models.
It will come with the Activity App that measures 3 separate aspects of movement, with the goal of getting you to sit less, move more, and get some exercise.
There is also a dedicated Workout app. The workout data from your Apple Watch will be stored on your iPhone’s Fitness app, where you can view your workout history whenever you want. This data can also be shared on your Health app, where it can be accessed by other third-party apps.
Will the Apple Watch Replace GPS Watches?
Like the Gear Fit and Gear 2 Neo, the Apple Watch does not have in-built GPS tracking. This is offset somewhat by the inclusion of an accelerometer, allowing runners to track your distance. But if you want GPS data while running, you will have to bring your iPhone along with you.
That can get a little cumbersome, especially now that the iPhone 6 Plus is announced to be 15.8cm (6.22inches) long. Compared to the weight of the iPhone 5s at 112 grams, the iPhone 6 Plus is going to be 172grams, a full 60 grams heavier.
This means that runners who want detailed map data of their runs (like elevation and location) might continue to use existing GPS watches instead.
But this raises the question for runners: in a small country like Singapore where the highest point is at 163.63 metres (at Bukit Timah Hill), can accelerometers replace GPS tracking?
Another point of discussion is the price. The Apple Watch starts from US$349, while the Samsung Gear Fit and Gear 2 Neo retails for US$149 and US$199 respectively. This is a pretty wide price gap, but the Apple Watch is designed to be worn daily.
Comparison with the Samsung Gear Series
Readers will invariably compare the Apple Watch to Samsung’s Galaxy Gear Fit and Gear 2 Neo, which are already for sale in stores.
Here’s what we can tell: the Apple Watch shares very similar features with the Gear series. They both have dedicated fitness apps, inbuilt accelerometers, Bluetooth connectivity, and even inbuilt heart-rate monitors. Whether you prefer an Apple Watch or a Samsung Gear boils down to your tastes, and whether you own an iPhone or Samsung phone in the first place, as these smartwatches will only be able to be paired with their respective smartphones.
Will the Apple Watch Find its way to the Hearts of Singapore Runners?
Let’s take a look at some desirable factors that runners in Singapore would love to have in their smartwatch.
- Strong, durable and lightweight
- Scratch resistant
- Heart rate monitor
- Information analysis and data tracking
- Voice activation
- Abundance of apps
- Call Functions/Connectability
- Ability to operate as a standalone music player device
- Ability to read in bright or low-light scenarios
- Independent GPS tracking
Based on the information we know, the Apple Watch seems to fulfil most of these criteria. The only factors that might be a barrier would be the last couple of points: it remains to be seen if the Apple Watch will be easily readable in bright or low-light conditions, and the starting price of US$349 might be too high.
Runners, What Do You Think?
Will you be switching to or getting the Apple Watch? Are you impressed or underwhelmed by the Apple Watch as a fitness device? What features do you want to see or are most important to you on a smartwatch?
One thing is for sure, it certainly is nice for runners to get noticed by big consumer giants like Apple and Samsung. People are starting to take their fitness and health more seriously, and we can expect more fitness-related devices in the future as the market develops!