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watchOS 3 wish-list: Activity challenges and leaderboards!

The Apple Watch has a built-in Activity app that tracks how often you stand up and move around, the calories you've burned, and the minutes of brisk exercise you've done. It's a great way to motivate people, and a type of gamification that feeds us the same sense of accomplishment we get when we solve a puzzle and make it to the next level. In classical terms, it's us-against-ourselves. Some people, however, aren't as self-motivated or self-disciplined. Some people are competitive and they don't just want to do well — they want to do the best. That's where a little us-against-them social networking and challenges would be great.

The Apple Watch already does a great job popping up alerts to get us going and to tell us we're almost there, but imagine if there were also challenges from friends to keep us going and a leaderboard to really get us there? Apple's Game Center already does a lot of this for App Store games, much like Xbox Live or PSN. You can issue challenges, get matched up, view leaderboards, and see how you stack up against your friends.

Some health and fitness apps have rolled their own social components as well. Fitbit, for example, lets you have friends, issue challenges, and see how everyone is ranking. People can get overly competitive at times, but in the best cases it motivates everyone to want to get to top of the family, the group of friends, the work group, or whatever.

Right now, with the Activity app on Apple Watch, I can see if I made my calorie goal, my standing goal, and my exercise goal, but I can see how I did relative to my mom or sister, my friends, or my colleagues like Serenity.

Again, self-motivation is terrific, Watch encouragement is as well, but people are social creatures and for some, group motivation is the best. It's why gyms offer personal training and group classes.

Given that an Apple Watch is much more powerful than the average fitness tracker, including the Workouts system, the Friends communication hub, and more, Apple has the potential to offer a truly great solution here as well — a digital version of the wellness challenge.

Apple runs wellness challenges already, imagine how cool that would be — for them and for everyone — if it could all be done right through the Apple Watch.

We've filed a feature request for Activity challenges and leaderboards with Apple's bug reporter: rdar://24480434.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

28 Comments
  • I want the ability to delete all iMessage conversations at once instead of one by one.
  • I want Reminder notifications to work correctly on the watch. I can mark them as completed on my Mac or iPhone (prior to the completion time) and they carry over to the other device, but it never clears off the watch. Even hours after it was marked as completed on Mac or iPhone I will still get a notification on the watch at the time the notification was originally set for. And for repeating reminders (like time to take medications), if I mark it complete on the watch to clear it, it removes the alarm for the next day so I don't get it on any device the next day.
  • Yeah, calendar syncing is horrible. And how about a Reminder app so we can actually see them? Sent from the iMore App
  • 1. Better workout data available, including in the Health App afterwards (average pace, average lap pace, elevation change, average heart rate, max min hr, stopped time, records in 1K, 5K, 10K, etc). Just look at RunMeter, or buy any Garmin to see what is needed in fitness today. Apple Watch is currently aimed at "get some random exercise today" folks, which is fine, but more advanced features would be nice. Of course, one can use other apps, but I prefer having Workout do this for me (nice heart rate integration, and I like having Heath keep all the data in one place). I hope for, but don't expect, muscle oxygenation this time around! 2. Persistent time - please, please, please! Find some way to always have basic time visible. As it stands, I can't use the thing while speaking / giving presentations, and I also want to surreptitiously see time, without moving the watch or pressing a button. Alternatively, allow for an "always on" option for an hour at a time. 3. A Watchface complication which allows for digital seconds to be visible. 4. More reliable heartrate info, it currently jumps to standard numbers (eg 74), giving false info at start, then jumps to actual after a reading or two, it's hard to rely on it at times, when compared to a proper heart rate strap.
  • And I would love a more robust, web-based Activity app. Apple is really missing the boat here. Fitbit, Jawbone, and the rest allow you to monitor and track your data via web browser, add your food intake, and compete against others. I loved using the Fitbit web app and it's much better than looking at tiny graphs on a phone. Apple could really take the lead here and produce something fun to use as well as useful in monitoring fitness goals. It is disappointing that they haven't done so yet.
  • Only if there's a way to opt out, as I know for me, I'm the only one in my social circle with an Apple Watch, and it would be pretty pointless for there to be a leaderboard with only me on it.
  • that's the point though. I was the only one in my group of fam and friends with a Fitbit. I searched and added people on Fitbit just by their step count. Then I became friends with them by interacting in the group chat. You can be as social as you want and it expands your circle. Imagine being able to add all the iMore readers, writers, editors. It leads to competiton, social interaction and the possibility of new friendships. Especially with the celebrity cache Apple has going on I think they are really missing the boat here. Is there a public beta for the watch? I would love to submit radars. Sent from the iMore App
  • I wish we could have more choices in watch faces; none of the available faces are quite what I would hope for. Better still, I wish Apple would allow 3rd-party developers to write faces, and then Apple could cull out the bad ones and let us select from a lot more options. i also wish phone-answering from the watch wasn't so slow...
  • Can't see why Apple wouldn't allow custom watch faces. In terms of "culling bad ones" just look at custom keyboards on iOS, some of them are dreadful or are basically horrible themes of a normal keyboard
  • Native sleep tracking needs to be added!!! Sent from the iMore App
  • Then when will you charge it. Wish this version of the watch had wireless charging
  • It's not that hard. I use sleep++ and charge my watch in the morning when I shower and stuff. I have the 42mm sport and I usually have 40% charge give or take when I put it on the charger in the morning. Sent from the iMore App
  • I wouldn't want to sleep with this kind of a watch. It's nice to take off your watch at the end of the day. A light purpose built sleep tracker on your wrist or one under your mattress make a lot more sense. I have a Withings Aura and love that I don't have to think about it. I go to bed and it just works.
  • I completely agree. I have used the MS Band and Band 2 and the sleep tracking is amazing. I tried the apple watch for a month or so and it was not good at all for sleep or weightlifting workout tracking. I tried many, many 3rd party apps for both and none compare to the built in functionality found in the Band 2. The apple watch was good at telling someone to move or for running, but for the rest it wasn't good for me.
    I do miss the notifications and the comfort of the apple watch and hope that the software will catch up to the nice design.
  • On the fitness front, I would love to have Siri become a personal trainer. Have Siri check in on you during the day to congratulate you on your activity or to push you over the line. She would be able to track your meals and offer more healthy alternatives. The Lark app has got this right but is missing the conversation sophistication of Siri. You should be able to say "Hey Siri, I had a steak and potatoes for lunch" and have her log it in your Health app while suggesting that you should add veggies to your next meal and to ensure that your steak is lean. Water logging is also an important fitness metric that should be built in.
    These would be great additions to AppleWatch and fit well in the health focus and increasing Siri features.
  • I would like the ability to text on the watch a screenshot taken on the watch
  • I would like the ability to set the Apple Watch to just mirror the iPhone's iMessages. This way if I delete it on the iPhone poof it's gone from the watch. I would like the ability to clear all the Notifications at once. I would also like to be able to search for songs by the letter. I just tap the digital crown maybe and an alphabet appears where I can scroll through with the crown. Currently searching through 100 thousand songs for one that starts with S, painful. Sent from the iMore App
  • I don't understand why the mirroring feature isn't there by default, iMessage syncing is so weird that it will receive messages to all devices on or off, but when you delete them it it's only on that device. Plus I've had syncing issues with iCloud where not all devices will receive the iMessage…
  • I agree. iMessage is odd. I love when I turn on my MacBook and get tons of "new" message dings about all the messages I have received since last time I logged into the computer. It needs to be able to recognize when I have already viewed the message in another device. Sent from the iMore App
  • You can delete all notifications at once. Force press the notifications and you can clear them all.
  • In my opinion, increased social integration is the LAST thing they need to add to the watch. Improve on core functions first and foremost.
  • Here's a simple one for Apple: how about the feature to not be reminded to stand up while I'm driving and the Watch knows that because it has the navigation enabled on my wrist...
  • This may sound crazy but I would like handwriting recognition capability to enter text. I am note a big Siri user & sometimes it is not convenient to talk out loud into the watch. Something similar to graffiti from the old Palm Pilot days will be perfect. If we can draw/sketch messages or even sketch complex Chinese characters with the watch now, then the capability for handwriting is not the far a stretch.
  • Customisable watchfaces, not what we have now, want to be able to have on the iphone an app that let's me create a watchface from scratch
  • I'd like the ability to create a watch face from a photo that I have, then use whatever complication I want on that face. Currently if I use a photo for the face, I only get the time and date. I can't add anything else. Also I'd like to see improved speed. My God, some of the complications take forever to initialize when you activate them.
  • I'd love to just be able to use voice dictation! I been thru 3 watches so far and after 2-3 weeks dictation fails while replying to text messages and Siri not hearing anything I say. Apple is clueless and can't offer any help other than replacing watch. Voice dictation needs improved or better application screening to prevent this problem.
  • As much I would love to see many features additions with watch os 3, I think the reality is that the hardware needs to get better before the os can start to shine. The main needs are a faster processor and faster, more reliable wireless communication with the iPhone. Improved battery life and better options to function sans iPhone (i.e., onboard gps) are next. I think the good stuff will come about the time of watch v3 and os 4/5. In the meantime, I wear my apple watch every day, morning to night. It's a really nice watch with some geeky features that keep me entertained. But for most people I wouldn't recommend it ... yet. I doubt os 3 will do much of anything to change that.
  • Either more watch face options, or apps with good, creative and dynamic choices.