This week's Charged Up is inspired by a conversation I had with Wareable's executive editor James Stables. We were talking about fitness apps for smartwatches and both agreed that while there are some decent options out there, it still feels like we are lacking a really standout app for sports tracking.
Strava, Runkeeper, Google Fit. These are just some of the apps that come to mind when I think about their smartwatch offerings and how they could be more robust, feature-packed and simply offer a much better experience from the wrist than they do in their current state.
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So it got me thinking about the fitness apps that I've used (there are a lot of them) and that gave me what I wanted from a sports tracking perspective. The one I always think of is Garmin Connect. The smartphone app is of course built to host data from Garmin's own wearables, and it hasn't always been a very user-friendly place, but with the introduction of fitness trackers and entry-level sports watches to the Garmin family, Connect has evolved into a platform that's as much for beginners as it is for hardcore runners, cyclists and triathletes. It is, in my opinion, one of the best sports tracking apps.
So am I alone in thinking that maybe, just maybe, a Garmin Connect app for the Apple Watch, Wear OS, or maybe even Fitbit's smartwatches would actually be a really great thing? I know, it sounds far-fetched and it will probably never happen. But the thought of Garmin opening up and offering an alternative to what its competitors offer themselves is something I'm sure some sports-loving smartwatch owners have already contemplated this. A Garmin Connect Wear app to use instead of Google Fit on Wear watches? Sign me up.
I wouldn't expect it to be an identical experience to the one you get on Garmin's wearables of course, simply because it wouldn't be tapping into the same hardware and software that's unique to those devices. But pulling out core elements that would cross over and harness hardware features like GPS and heart rate monitors that can be found on most smartwatches would make sense.
It could focus on displaying data in the same way, customising data fields and adopting similar multisport tracking features. It could even embrace smartwatch features that Garmin's own wearables are yet to feature. Like LTE on the Apple Watch Series 3, something I'm sure would appeal to runners and bike computer-owning cyclists who want to leave the phone at home.
I know, it's wishful thinking, but when Apple, Samsung, Google and perhaps to a lesser extent Fitbit want to play in this sports watch domain, hosting a dedicated app from a company that already has decades of experience in this field could only be a good thing.
Maybe Garmin has considered it. Maybe it'll even read this and consider it. It probably wouldn't make great business sense without holding enough back for its homemade devices, but I think it might make a lot of smartwatch people happy if it did. Including me.