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The Apple Watch should help us get fit together

Dan Moren | Aug. 31, 2015
Sure, hitting your move, exercise, and stand goals are great, but being able to compete and compare your stats with friends could make the experience so much better.

When people ask me what the best thing about the Apple Watch is—and rest assured, it comes up pretty much anytime they see I have one—I almost always tout the fitness features of the device as my favorite aspect. For one, they surpass the iPhone’s meager fitness offerings, making it one of the more compelling selling points of the Apple Watch. For another, it actually encourages me to do something that improves my life. 

apple watch activity Apple

Competing against friends may motivate you to actually fill those circles. 

But as much as I like hitting my move, exercise, and stand goals every day, it’s started to feel like there’s something that’s missing: Community. As great as it is to compete against yourself and try to constantly top your own personal best, sometimes pitting yourself against others can be a great form of encouragement. I probably wouldn’t go to the gym half as often as I do if it weren’t for the motivation of my friends going as well.

So why can’t the Apple Watch take advantage of that, too? 

The game of life 

Apple’s most popular competitor in the wearable fitness device space is Fitbit, and that company has wholeheartedly embraced the social aspect of workouts—friends who have Fitbits regularly cite it as the most fun or engaging part of the device. Using the Fitbit app, people can compare their progress throughout the day or week against their friends (or perhaps even their enemies). That social aspect is a great motivator, but it’s wholly missing from Apple’s fitness features. 

fitbit duo

Fitbit’s app has a built-in section for keeping tabs on your friends’ activity. 

More to the point, as my co-host on The Rebound podcast (and Macworld contributor) John Moltz suggested in our most recent episode, Apple’s already got the infrastructure in place to support just such an idea: Game Center. Apple’s online gaming service has leaderboards, challenges, achievements, and so on—all things that Fitbit offers in its own app.

Creating a link between the Activity app and Game Center would potentially provide even better engagement for the Apple Watch’s fitness features. Imagine if you could see how close your best friend was to completing their move goal and encourage them—or taunt them—into completing it. Forget simply reaching your Apple Watch’s prescribed goals of how much you move in a day: Don’t you want to outdo your parents or siblings? 

Forget simply reaching your Apple Watch’s prescribed goals of how much you move in a day: Don’t you want to outdo your parents or siblings? 

 

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