Strava has been my “go to” running and cycling app for a while now. Although I prefer to not run with my phone, Apple and Nike’s decision to not allow easy sharing from the NRC app or Apple’s own Workout app means I prefer not to use those apps.
Strava has been promising an update to their app that uses the new Apple Watch’s integrated GPS receiver. They delivered that update last week.
For the last few years Fitbit has been the dominant player in the growing and lucrative health and fitness wearable market. They have built such a strong brand that fitness wearables are all called “fitbits” in the same way searching on the web is now called “googling” (even if you don’t use Google) or photocopying was called xeroxing.
But that market dominance is coming to an end. One of the largest companies in the world, Apple, is pushing its way into the health and fitness market with the Apple Watch. And while Fitbit integrates south many other exercise and well-being services, they are hanging on like barnacles to a grudge with Apple and won’t make their platform available to Apple Watch owners.
Why is this? To answer that we need to look back a few years.
The Apple Watch Series 2 is a serious workout companion. Waterproof, with GPS and support for lots of fitness apps, it works on the road, in the pool, at the gym and almost anywhere else. Plus, you can switch to a different watchface and band for those times you need to look a little less like Sporty Spice and more like Posh Spice.
There are two buttons on the side of the Apple Watch. The rectangular button brings up the Dock as well as allowing you to make SOS calls and access Apple Pay. The Digital Crown is the dial that can be pressed to bring up all your installed app icons, or spun to scroll up and down screens or zoom into images.
The trouble is, if you rarely take the Apple Watch off and train with unit, some grime can build up under the Digital Crown. As a result, it’s harder to spin and press.
So, what can you do?
Last week, Fitbit purchased the guts of smartwatch maker Pebble. Pebble has been THE crowdfunding success story until now. Each new model Pebble produced was funded through Kickstarter.
But the company has been struggling, with competition from the likes of Samsung, Fitbit, Apple and others. Like many market pioneers, they were overtaken and then beaten down by the second and third wave of market entrants.
The hardware Pebble pioneered has been commoditised. But the software that pulls all the different services and functionality together remains valuable.
In a blog post and email sent out today, Pebble has confirmed that Fitbit has purchased the company’s software and intellectual property. Sources say the deal is worth a mere US$40M – a pittance in Silicon Valley dollars but it reflects the reality of the smartwatch and wearables business.
Whenever a new market emrges, it’s not the first wave of innovators that get the glory. It’s the second and third waves who learn from the mistakes fot the early market entrants, listen to the complaints of cusomers and deliver products and services that better meet the market need.
Fitbit buying Pebble is the beginning of this stage in the smartwatch and wearables market.
The original Apple Watch felt incomplete – almost as if Apple released a product they were testing in the lab to see what the market thought. Lacking integrated GPS and waterproofing, they nonetheless tried to pitch it as an activity tracker using Christie Turlington to spruik its credibility.
But the new Apple Watch Series 2 running watchOS 3 changes that considerably. It’s now a viable, if imperfect alternative, for runners.
Time magazine has conducted a study of 50 healthy adults up to an electrocardiogram (EKG) in order to test the accuracy of the Apple Watch’s haeart rate monitor.
The tested the Apple Watch against the Fitbit Charge HR, Mio Alpha and Basis Peak.
Their finding – devices using a chest strap were the most accurate (99%) with the Apple Watch cowing in second at 90%. The other devices into the low 80s acording to Dr. Gordon Blackburn, one of the study’s authors and director of cardiac rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic.
You can read the full report here.
The recently released Apple Watch Series 2 is water resistant up to 50 meters of water. It can count laps, track average lap pace and auto-detect the swimmer’s stroke in order to measure calories burned. It works in both the pool and open water.
MySwimPro and swim.com have both added support to their apps and services that take advantage of the Apple Watch Series 2’s new capabilities.
Like most other fitness band and smartwatch makers, Microsoft has had a two-pronged approach with a hardware component and a software service. In their case, the two parts are the Microsoft Band and the Microsoft Health platform.
According to a recent report, it seems Microsoft is pulling the pin on the Microsoft Band (I reviewed the Microsoft Band 2 a little while ago and found it flawed), preferring to focus their efforts on the Microsoft Health platform.