Well, sadly the world of Wii exercise games has all but dried up. The good news is that there’s a very healthy aftermarket, and a lot of the games on our list of best Wii games and best Wii U games are available from Amazon or eBay resellers at very affordable prices.
In looking around for the “next big thing” in fitness gaming, naturally the Apple Watch caught my attention. Now granted there are going to be a huge number of annoying elitist-types who buy the watch just to be seen with it. And Apple is getting just a little annoying with its pretentiousness (really, a 5-minute speech on its space-age “alu-min-ium”?) But looking beyond all that, the one thing I can’t dispute is that Apple’s always helped make my life better, from my first Apple //e in the 1980s to my first Mac SE/30 and Powerbook in the 1990s, to my first iPod in the 2000s to the iPhone I have today. And if spending a ridiculous amount of money on a watch is going to help me track my fitness better and turn my everyday activities into a “video game”, maybe I’ll give it a shot.
One of the more impressive features of the new watch is going to be its heart rate sensor. There’s a reason the doctor uses your wrist to check your pulse. This watch uses different diodes to detect your heart rate and let you view it at a glance on your watch. One of the things I’ve mentioned a lot on this blog is the importance of getting into the “aerobic zone” when working out, and this will help. I’ve held off on Jawbones and Fitbits and Nike+ sensors in the past, but this is one I might finally bite on.
Something else I like about this watch is that it has a built-in GPS. Right now when I’m biking with my phone in my pocket, my favorite apps like Runtastic Road Bike PRO frequently lose their signal, so what should be a nice 3-mile plot of my bike trail ends up being about 20 feet. Hopefully with the open-air watch it should improve the tracking.
The one thing I’m a little skeptical of is the accelerometer. I can see how the Wii Fit U Meter tracks my steps by being on my hip, but will something on my wrist do it as accurately? If and when I get a hold of a watch, I’ll be sure to do a comparison.
But perhaps the most exciting this about this watch how it can “gamify” your life. You can see some examples of this on Apple’s site. Specifically, one of the apps is going to be a bullseye chart with rings called “Move”, “Exercise” and “Stand” that will let you see at glance exactly how sedentary your life is. Simple things like standing up can give you “credits’ that’ll change your profile. Each week, the Watch can suggest a “Move goal” for how much you’ll want to be moving during the week. And if you’re exercising at any pace of a brisk walk or more, that activity will be tracked as “Exercise”, and with 30 minutes of exercise a day you’ll close that ring. Your little watch screen will show things like your goals, updates, and at the end a summary of how much you’ve “worked out” in a day, whether as literal exercise or as part of your daily routine. In other words, your life becomes a video game, with goals, rewards, and statuses right on your wrist.
As much hype as the watch is getting, I also foresee some problems with it. It’s going to be so bulky that you wonder if there’ll be the same backlash against users of the watch that befell Google Glass early adopters. The battery life is going to be woefully short. And of course, a lot of people will find it annoying that you need to have an iPhone 6 to use it. We’ll see if any of that affects its sales.
The Apple Watch goes on sale on April 24, and reportedly goes on pre-sale on April 10. Hopefully by taking orders earlier Apple will be able to avoid the inventory issues it’s had in the past. If I manage to get a hold of one, I’ll of course post the grisly details here about how you can incorporate it into fitness and exercise.
And don’t worry, I still have my Wii and my Wii U, am continuing to play those fitness games, and will continue to do so for the long haul 🙂