I’m not the most athletic person in the world, nor am I pretending to be. But in the four-going-on-five full days that I’ve worn my Apple Watch, it has become sort of my own personal fitness nudge, urging me to be more active.
Getting to that point wasn’t actually difficult either. When you first get the watch, all you have to do is pair it with your iPhone, pick a calorie goal for the day and you’re good to go. It immediately begins tracking your activity while reminding you to be active throughout the day.
It doesn’t do so in a goading or obnoxious way; rather it hits me with a brief tap on the wrist to remind me to stand up, walk a bit and move around. In some ways it has turned exercise into a game. Instead of me dreading a run on the treadmill or a walk outside, I’m looking forward to beating my last high score.
That can be done in many ways: brisk walks and late-night partying on the dance floor can count toward your goal. But if you’re more traditional, using the workout app will track cycling, running, walking, rowing and the use of an elliptical machine. While not a deal breaker for me, the workout app doesn’t have a specific option for lifting weights.
Though there are third-party apps that do this, they can sometimes be sluggish because they’re not run natively off the Apple Watch. For sleep tracking, owners of the smartwatch will also have to turn to third-party apps. But since the watch's battery typically lasts for only a day, for now you're probably better off using a plugged-in iPhone to track your sleeping habits.
As Apple Watch tracks my progress it awards achievement badges along the way for things like setting a new personal workout record or exercising daily (I’m still working on the latter). While the badges can be an extra nugget of encouragement to exercise more, I’ve found glancing at the activity app or its representation as a “complication” on the watch face is more than enough to convince me to go to the gym.
See, Apple Watch represents the activity it tracks -- standing, walking and movement -- through three rings that fill up as you move closer to your daily goal. And if I start to find myself exceeding my activity goal, I can also set the bar higher. I haven’t quite put my finger on what it is, but there’s something satisfying about being able to fill all three rings for the day.
This has also led to some sillier thought processes entering my head as well, such as planning how I would get to my daily goal of standing up and walking around for a minute at least 12 times a day. It just reminded me to do that as I was writing this and it’s something that never would have crossed my mind only a few days ago.
Granted, users can probably find those features in any number of fitness trackers, such as FitBit. But in the case of the Apple Watch, its activity app is but one of many features designed to be there when you need it, while quickly diving out of the way when you're done with them.
For instance, when I’m driving it taps me on the wrist and makes a turn signal sound to remind me about an upcoming exit. Or when I want to pay for something at a store, I just double tap the side button to activate Apple Pay. They’re simple in practice and quick to use and I have a feeling that’s what Apple was going for with the watch.