Yesterday, Apple debuted the much-anticipated new Apple Watch at its March 2015 Special Event. Now that the specifics are available for the watch, the debate has begun: will you buy the Apple Watch Sport to tracking your running? As a runner, I can tell you. No, I will not buy the Apple Watch Sport.
Sure, it looks pretty and it’s shiny. It has some neat features, like sending a heartbeat to your friends or the three rings of the Activity app to help you move more. But, what does it truly do? In short, it links up to your phone and ensures that, in case you can’t see the face of the phone while you are near it, you know that you have an incoming message or phone call.
For athletes, it has an accelerometer and a heart rate sensor. It does not have a GPS. The only way that the GPS functionality will work is if you have your phone nearby, which will track your GPS.
As a runner, this means that you now have to wear the watch (if you want to be able to track your distance while running) and carry your phone. While carrying your phone serves as a safety mechanism for many, I feel like it serves as a distraction and something extra that I do not need to take along with me on my runs. And with the watch, I never have the opportunity to break away during my runs — which is often the point of many of them — because it will show me who’s calling and who’s messaging me, whether I like it or not, because I need to have my phone with me to track the GPS.
On top of that, for those that run long, they wonder if the Apple Watch Sports battery will last as long as they need it to. Apple has been applauded for years for making lives easier. The iPod simplified how we manage and listen to our music. The iPhone revolutionized smartphones and created the market that we have today. But this, the Apple Watch. It feels like it missed the mark. It feels like the Apple Watch Sport, which was designed for athletes and fitness fans, complicates an easy solution that has already been solved by other brands. By the way, I haven’t even mentioned the price! The Apple Watch Sport starts at $349 and requires that you have at least an iPhone 5 in order for it to work with the features and functionality.
To compare, the Garmin Forerunner 220 is $249 on Garmin.com and features built-in GPS, as well as distance, pace and heart rate tracking. You can set alerts on the device so that it serves as a caching mechanism, telling you if you are running too slow and helping you plan your speed workouts. On top of that, it has automatic uploads to Garmin Connect and users have access to free training plans. There are some many smartwatches these days that perform basically the same operations, and designer versions from Armani, Hilfiger or Hugo Boss Orange watches do almost all of the same functions whilst looking great!
It simplifies the process of tracking your runs, including those that require you to vary and track your speed and distance, like a tempo workout. It was designed specifically for runners, to ensure they have access to the data they need while on the run and afterward. For many, this data is used to determine future training plans and their potential to qualify for bigger races, like the Boston Marathon. It serves as more than just a GPS watch that you wear on your wrist. The non-GPS Apple Watch Sport? Not going to do the trick.