One of the Apple Watch’s big selling points is its ingenious, and apparently highly accurate, heart rate sensor, which I have previously detailed.
One of the Apple Watch’s big problems at present is that its heart rate sensor is almost unusable.
I stumbled across this in my quest for an app which will log distance covered, heart rate, etc., when out walking. The standard Health app does an undistinguished job, leaving the field open to third parties.
My first choice was Runtastic Pro GPS, which annoyed because it decided that I needed its website. However apart from that it showed no signs of acquiring heart rate data from my Watch, as it wanted me to buy its own sensor. When it hung on the Watch, I removed the app from my iPhone 6, which automagically removed it from the Watch too.
I replaced it with Abvio’s Walkmeter GPS, which curiously gives significantly shorter distances for the cross-country courses than Runtastic does: our standard 6 km walk, for instance, was consistently billed as being over 6 km (typically 6.1 km) by Runtastic, and always less by Walkmeter (typically 5.9 km).
After a lot of fiddling, I failed to get Walkmeter to acquire any heart rate data from two walks. It also irritated, the first time by requiring me to use both my iPhone and Watch to get it started, the second by refusing to connect from Watch to iPhone at all. In most other respects Walkmeter looks like being ideal, once I have learned its labyrinthine interface, but without heart rate its Watch app is an utter waste of time.
Abvio, it appears, are not only unable to acquire heart rate data from the Watch, but the entry in its FAQ admits that for the time being Walkmeter will remain heartless.
The wording in that answer implies that this is a problem with the Watch in general, and rummaging around in Xcode’s documentation suggests that this issue will not be properly resolved until Xcode supports the development of proper apps which run on the Watch itself – widely rumoured to be in the Autumn!
So at present it looks like only Apple’s pretty feeble Health app is capable of acquiring good heart rate data from the Watch.
Which in turn leaves me puzzled that some users seem able to acquire good heart rate data from their Watches, or perhaps more screenshots are faked (and use third-party hardware for acquiring heart rate). Someone is not telling the truth.
Even if an app can acquire heart rate data, it seems that the Watch 1.0.1 update has rendered that less reliable, if reports such as this one at Tech Times are to be believed.
All this leaves that nasty taste of false claims, doesn’t it?