With the release of the Apple Watch, the company has made a statement. Cupertino believes the wearable’s fitness functionality can do everything your wireless activity tracker can do, and that the Apple Watch can do it better.
Is Apple right? Maybe.
“But I thought Apple and Fitbit were working together!” you cry from the back of the room – and that’s an understandable misconception.
Up until November of last year, Apple featured and sold many third-party fitness trackers and apps from now-competitors such as Jawbone, Nike, and Fitbit. Now, none of these products are carried in-store, and the apps are no longer featured that prominently in the App Store (although they are still available). Instead, Apple is promoting its Watch as the answer to all of its customers fitness-tracking needs.
As with most new technologies, there are a lot of details and personal preferences to take into consideration before you make the switch from your current activity tracker to the Apple Watch.
What The Apple Watch Does Well
There’s no denying the care that went into the design of the Apple Watch’s functionality.
Apple had the benefit of studying how other wildly popular fitness and activity trackers developed over time before releasing their first fitness tracking device, and the research shows.
The basics functions you would want from a fitness tracker are all there – the Apple Watch tracks your steps, calories burned, and gives you a breakdown of the amount of time you’ve spent being active each day.
The Watch also offers functions on its base model that are only available on the high-end models of other brands’ fitness trackers. These include the ability to track your heart rate throughout the day, measure your incline and altitude, and offer some basic fitness tips based on your activity level throughout the day.
If you already have several devices that work with Apple’s Health app, the seamless integration from your Apple Watch to the Health app can be a great way to ensure your Health app information is painting a holistic picture of your daily health and well-being.
By far, the biggest benefit of the Apple watch is that it isn’t just a fitness device.
Instead of having to wear a tracker AND a watch, all you have to wear is a watch — and the Apple Watch has many other non-fitness features that make it more useful than other watch-style fitness trackers.
The Apple Watch is also one of the most customizable fitness trackers with regards to its appearance, and its LCD screen is like nothing seen on comparable activity trackers. Truth be told, if you’re thinking of buying an Apple Watch — or if you already have one — you probably don’t need to be wearing your Fitbit anymore.
Where It Comes Up Short
If you are considering buying an Apple Watch solely because of its fitness tracking capabilities, there are some drawbacks you’ll want to be aware of.
The most obvious drawback to purchasing an Apple Watch is its price tag. At $349 for the cheapest model available, the Apple Watch is definitely more expensive than other fitness trackers.
For comparison, Fitbit’s base model (the Zip) is $69.90 and at the deluxe end of the market (the Surge) maxes out at $300, with several other options in between. Fitbit’s trackers are on-par with the rest of wearable fitness tracker market, making the Apple Watch far more of an investment than any other option.
When considering costs for the Apple Watch, you also have to realize that you will need to own an iPhone 5 or higher in order to access most of its features. Again, if you already have the iPhone this isn’t a problem – but most other fitness tracker brands are not limited by the kind of smartphone that you own.
A second enormous drawback to the Apple Watch is its 18-hour battery life.
Honestly, in the world of wearable activity trackers, it is pretty much unacceptable to have anything less than 24 hours, and 48 or higher is easily the norm (Fitbit boasts 7+ days!). Needing to recharge your Apple Watch every 18 hours could prove frustrating for those with an irregular schedule, who travel frequently, or who get less than six hours of sleep per night.
Another problem that Apple faces by coming into the market late in the game is that they have to convince users who are already established in one platform and its online fitness community to make a switch to an all-new interface.
At this point, Apple has not made this as easy as they could have.
HealthKit goes some way toward making the exchange of health and fitness information more transparent, but it’s still not as seamless as it could be. As an example, Apple Watch information cannot currently be synced with apps like Fitbit without using a third-party app as a go-between.
A final disadvantage to the Apple Watch is that it doesn’t currently have any native GPS technology only access to GPS tracking through your iPhone. Again, this is not the case with several other deluxe fitness trackers like the Fitbit Surge or the Microsoft Band.
Is Your Fitbit Obsolete?
Really, the better question to be asking yourself is: “Do I want an Apple Watch?”
If the answer to that question is yes, then you certainly do not need to be wearing both your Apple Watch and a secondary fitness tracker. Enjoy your Apple Watch and the incredible features that it offers for both fitness and the rest of your life.
However, if you don’t want an Apple Watch, don’t have an iPhone 5 or higher, or don’t want to spend $350 for a glorified pedometer, then I suggest you look into one of the many other wearable fitness tracking options available.
The market for wearable fitness monitors is booming at this point in time, and you’re sure to find one with all of the features you want for a much lower price tag than the Apple Watch. That being said, the features of the Apple Watch might win you over.
What is your preferred wireless fitness tracker? Why did you choose it?