When the Apple Watch was introduced in 2015, many people wondered if it was the beginning of the end for running watches. We predicted that it wouldn’t push out Garmin at all, mostly because it didn’t even come with GPS capabilities, meaning that anyone looking to use it for workouts would also have to bring along a phone for any kind of tracking. Well, it looks like more than a year later, Apple will finally be getting the GPS capabilities.
Earlier this month, Runkeeper announced new update for the Apple Watch Series 2 devices that will finally take advantage of the GPS chips inside the Apple Watches. With this new functionality, the app will not only track things like distance and heart rate, but also mark your tracks via GPS. I personally haven’t had much experience with it, but the reviews have been a little sketchy. Some users reported that the GPS signal was a little variable, but the app does feature GPS bars to help show where the signals are low.
Other features with this and some previous updates include:
- Customizable activity screen which show distance, time, heart rate, etc; whatever you want to show
- Heart rate graph which snapshots your heartrate for the last five minutes and places it on an easy-to-read graph
- Target pace graph to easily see if you’re keeping your pace. You’ll have to set this before you run, obviously, for functionality.
- Real time updates; since it can now track distance, it vibrates each mile so you know how you’re doing
- Larger font size so that you can read it easier without stopping.
The Runkeeper update is only available for Apple Watch Series 2 or any watch featuring watchOS3. The updates should already be live.
Runkeeper is a freemium running app that is available on the iTunes Store. While the app itself is free to use, there are premium features which can be unlocked via one of several subscription plans.
While this update is pretty noteworthy as a significant leap into the GPS running running market for Apple, I still stand by what we said last year: that Apple Watches don’t feature enough functionality (or, arguably, too much functionality) to work well as a running watch. If you’re really a dedicated runner, then something from Garmin, TomTom, or the multiple other companies is probably going to both last longer and work better than a smartwatch. Still, we’ll be keeping an eye to see if this changes the way people use Apple Watches, as Runkeeper and Apple obviously hope.
Do you have an Apple Watch or a Garmin? Have any thoughts on which is better? Tell me in the comments below!