Posted on 13 Sep 2017
4 min read
The Apple Watch is now the most used heart rate monitor in the world.
And as of yesterday’s keynote at the brand new Steve Jobs theatre, we know that the next version of its operating system – Watch OS 4 – will bring additional features that focus the product line on delivering an even more useful health experience.
Not only that, but the addition of cellular connectivity on the Apple Watch Series 3 means you can now use the device to track activity without the need of your phone (we’re yet to think of a use for this outside of surfing, but hey, still cool).
There’s a bunch of heart rate monitoring devices out there, but we’re here to tell you why the Apple Watch is the best of the lot.
Let’s just get it out the way and say that the Apple Watch isn’t the most accurate heart rate monitoring device out there.
If you really want to get the best accuracy, you’d have to use a chest strap style monitor, which usually pairs with another device.
But the Apple Watch does something better than any other heart rate device out there – it tracks your heart rate all day long as standard, and with Watch OS 4, you see that on screen alongside the time.
This makes the watch a device that’s ingrained right into your daily life and actually provides a useful heart rate statistic you can access easily from Apple Health at any time.
Yes, there are other devices that may be better for the serious athlete, but for the vast majority, being able to see what your heart rate is every few minutes of the day automagically is far more useful than traditional fitness tracker stuff like amount of steps taken or how many times you’ve stood up in the office.
And when we say automagically, we are really talking about…
We’ve tried a lot of heart rate monitors and gadgets, and even on some of the most respected brands like Garmin or Polar, we find the same thing every time: their apps suck.
The pairing process for the apps suck, the apps themselves suck, and they owe to a crappy experience in general.
The Apple Watch pairing process is ridiculously simple and quite cool, and once done you no longer have to worry about it, it’ll just gather health data all day long as long as you’re wearing it.
And for the most part the battery life is excellent.
On the Series 3 you’ll easily be able to wear it for a full day and night if you really want to gather 24 hours of heart rate data.
That alongside the excellent and well designed Apple Health app which comes with your iPhone, makes for the best experience by far.
But the real reason it’s becoming the best heart rate monitor is the Watch OS 4 features announced alongside the Series 3 Watch.
In general Apple are taking a much more serious approach to heart rate monitoring in Watch OS 4, and these features really demonstrate that.
The new resting heart rate view gives you an overview of this quite vital statistic, and will show you periods of the day when it becomes elevated – something that not just you but also your GP might find useful.
Alongside that, the watch shows your recovery rate after you’ve finished exercising, another excellent indicator of your overall health and in particular great for assessing cardiovascular health.
For us, this is the most useful feature they’ve announced, and we’re sure it’ll be a competition stat between friends.
Lastly we have something that has set the tone for how Apple is going to eventually use the data from your wrist: large scale studies.
The good thing about this study is that you get a warning if you have Atrial Fibrillation, a often undiagnosed condition affecting millions that can lead to heart disease.
The data collected is also used for university led studies to combat the condition.
With the Apple Watch Series 3 and Watch OS 4, we are seeing Apple make a bold statement about the role they want to play in your health.
Many may regard it as a big marketing stunt to sell expensive watches, but even so they are clearly innovating here and focusing on ways to make wearable tech improve lives.
What are your experiences with the Apple Watch and its heart rate monitor features?
Let us know what you think in the comments or on Facebook.