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.
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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.