Apple's fitness expert reveals the simple inspiration behind the Apple Watch's Activity app

Jay BlahnikJay BlahnikJay Blahnik

When Apple was creating the Activity app for the Apple Watch, it focused on three core things: sit less, move more, and get some exercise.

In a recent interview with Outside Online, Apple’s fitness expert Jay Blahnik talked about Apple’s approach to the fitness space, which is already crowded with wearables from Fitbit, Microsoft, Jawbone, LG, and Samsung.

Here’s how Blahnik described the thinking behind the Watch’s Activity app, which keeps track of how much you move, exercise, and stand throughout the day.

The team really focused on saying, ‘As fitness and activity trends come and go, what would always be a good recommendation? It came down to sit less, move more, and get some exercise.

This train of thought — sit less, move more, and get some exercise — provided the base for Apple’s Activity app.

While the Apple Watch is much more than just a fitness tracker — it comes with a colourful touchscreen, sends notifications from your iPhone to your wrist, and lets you answer phone calls without reaching into your pocket for your phone — Apple has definitely focused on its health-related features when marketing the watch. And, when Apple’s new software update for the watch launches this fall, the Apple Watch will be able to do even more when it comes to measuring your workouts.

Third-party exercise apps such as Strava will be able to communicate with the Apple Watch’s sensors to provide more accurate data about your activity. At the moment, workout apps for the watch still rely on data from your phone.

The Activity app made by Apple is the only Apple Watch workout app that actually uses the sensors inside the watch to monitor your movement. This means these sensors will be able to track your activity in different ways that Apple’s app doesn’t currently do depending on the app you’re using.

This is what Blahnik is most excited about for the Apple Watch moving forward, as he explains:

There are a lot of sports and activities where the sum of the activity isn’t necessarily measuring what actually matters. Think about golf or tennis or baseball. If you can measure what’s happening at the wrist, you may get an opportunity to learn things that aren’t about calories or tracking but about form or injury prevention.

For what it’s worth, there are some health-oriented wearable gadgets that already take this approach. Ralph Lauren claims that its smart shirt can tell athletes about their breathing during training since it fits snugly on the skin in addition to measuring calories and other fitness stats. Sensoria makes special socks embedded with sensors that tell runners specific details about their form while running so that they can prevent injury.

We’ll learn more about how third-party apps plan to integrate with the Apple Watch natively when WatchOS 2 arrives this fall.

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