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The Apple Watch and watchOS 9 need a fitness refresh to stay ahead

OPINION: With WWDC 2022 taking place in just a few hours, Apple is on the cusp of revealing all the key features going into watchOS 9 but if the company wants to stay one step ahead of the Pixel Watch then a serious update to Apple Fitness is a must.

For the record, I like Apple Fitness – it’s one of the reasons why I use the Apple Watch SE as my daily timepiece. It’s simple to wrap your head around, particularly for the stats summarised by the fitness rings, and I like the fact that it incorporates the time you spend on compatible apps like Calm.

This is all well and good, but it hardly knocked the socks off competing fitness trackers, especially from the likes of Fitbit which does a great job in encouraging users to think about their health holistically, how to maintain a sustainable fitness regiment and even work towards recognising the importance of sleep and recovery.

Apple’s slumber tracking still needs work

Sleep tracking is one area where I feel Apple Fitness sorely lags behind its competitors as swathes of data are simply thrown at users with the assumption that they know exactly what to make of it all. There isn’t any tailored information to nudge users towards improving their circadian rhythm and achieving better sleep quality.

Until now, the Apple Watch has been able to hide these issues behind the fact that its other features are still mostly best-in-class, but with the Fitbit-infused Pixel Watch on the horizon, Apple’s reign in wearable tech could be called into question.

Apple Watch

Google’s Fitbit is still a bit of a mystery

At this point in time, we don’t know the full extent of the Fitbit features looking to be included on the Pixel Watch, but even a handful of tricks from Fitbit’s ecosystem would be enough to give the Apple Watch a run for its money.

While I understand that Apple gatekeeps a great deal of its fitness content behind the Apple Fitness Plus paywall, it would be great if more free fitness and health advice could be made available to the wider user base.

Even if it only takes the form of written copy, it would at least plant the feeling that Apple does have a vested interest in seeing people achieve their fitness goals, as opposed to squeezing them for every available penny (this is coming from a person with ongoing Apple Music, Apple TV Plus and Apple News Plus subscriptions).

Again, other than a battery upgrade and maybe a few tweaks to Siri, there’s very little outside of fitness tracking on watchOS that feels like it’s in need of a major change. The rest of the Apple Watch is still so intuitive that any competing wearable is unlikely to pull me in completely, but it would be great to see Apple make use of this open goal and it’d certainly save me from any jealously towards my Android-toting colleagues once the Pixel Watch rolls around.

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