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CUPERTINO, CALIF. — Health and fitness applications were one of the original focuses of the smartwatch, and Apple has taken care to get it right with its first smartwatch, the Apple Watch.
“The Apple Watch gives us the ability to motivate people and be more active,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said.
First the hardware. The watch comes with several watch bands, some of which are designed for use during workouts. As expected, a sensor on the bottom of the watch detects heart rate.
But the watch does have within it an accelerometer for monitoring step counts and other workout metrics.
Most of the horsepower where health is concerned comes in two apps that are loaded on the watch.
A Fitness app monitors all of your movements throughout the day and tracks how much time you spend sitting down. It sets a goal for you to stand at least a minute out of every hour of the day. It also measures your progress toward a suggested workout time of 30 minutes each day. (A circle moves toward completion on the watch to mark your progress.)
The Workout app lets you create your own exercise program. This can include anything from biking to hiking to swimming.
You enter your goal, which can be measured in calorie burn or distance covered; the app can also suggest goals that are “personal, realistic, and achievable,” Cook said. When you’re finished, the app shows you your statistics, such as time, intensity, distance, etc.
All of this information, Apple says, can then be transmitted to the Health app on the iPhone. The Health app is connected to Apple’s health data cloud, so third-party apps can access and analyze your workout data, if you wish it to.
Apple also announced that third-party app developers have already created apps for the watch. One of them is Nike, which already has experience building such apps.
The big downer in all this is that there’s no way to get away from using your iPhone if you want track your movement or receive messages during your runs, walks, or workouts. The watch, unfortunately, relies on the GPS radio in the paired iPhone to track the routes of your workout. It also will rely on the barometer in the new phones to track the elevation of your walks or runs.
In the slick promo video Apple showed here, we saw a group of three women running on a beach in light workout gear. I couldn’t see where any of them could possibly have been carrying a phone. And if they were to carry the phone, it would certainly feel like a hindrance.
Apple’s stock price shot up on news of the new watch, but has now come gently back down to earth.
For more Apple news, head here: Everything Apple announced at its iPhone 6 & Apple Watch event.
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