What Will The New Apple Watch Mean For Runners?

The new Apple Watch will work with third party GPS-based tracking apps such as Strava (pictured above), RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Nike+ and others.

The highly anticipated device will be available for pre-order on April 10. 

At the company’s “Spring Forward” event in San Francisco on Monday, Apple announced that its highly anticipated Apple Watch will be available for pre-order on April 10 and in-store purchases on April 24.

The Apple Watch Sport comes in two sizes—38 and and 42 millimeters—and features a sport-style wristband with white, blue, green, pink and black color options. The 38-millimeter version will retail for $349 while the 42-millimeter version is $399.

What does this mean for runners? And does it solve an unmet need? The impact remains to be seen given the prevalence of already available GPS-enabled running watches and tracking devices that don’t require you to use an iPhone. Runners and cyclists planning to use the water-resistant Apple Watch Sport—which is equipped with WiFi, Bluetooth, a heart-rate sensor, accelerometer and gyroscope—must carry their iPhones (version 5 and above) with them to enable the GPS technology on their wrists and provide real-time data about pace, distance, heart rate and calories burned for various types of activities. The watch will work with Apple’s own Activity and Workout apps, as well as with third party fitness and tracking apps such as Strava, Nike+ and others.

“We want people to be healthier by being more active,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in the presentation. “[Apple Watch] tracks daily movement, how long you’re exercising and even reminds you if you’ve been sitting too long. Apple Watch will also send you reminders to be more active. In fact, on a Monday, it will send you a report on previous week and help you set goals for the next week. It’s like having a coach on your wrist.”

A custom-designed anodized aluminum case comes in silver or space gray and is 60 percent stronger than standard alloy—but still light enough to be comfortable for athletic activities, Apple senior vice president of design, Johnny Ive, said during the presentation. The display is protected by strengthened ion-X glass to protect against dings and scratches.

One of the most impressive features of the new Apple Watch is its purported battery life. “It has all-day battery life across a range of activities,” Cook said. “Eighteen hours for most people.” It is unknown as of this writing how hours-long runs and frequent app usage will affect that number, but Competitor editors are hoping to put it to the test in the coming months.

Many GPS-based activity tracking companies have been working closely with Apple since the initial announcement of the watch last September to create custom apps that will work with the device. Strava has redesigned its mobile app to seamlessly integrate with Apple Watch’s technology, delivering effortless connectivity and a more personal, engaging, and real-time training experience for cyclists and runners.

“The redesigned app will extend the breadth of Strava’s product portfolio from web and mobile to the most anticipated wearable device of our time, Apple Watch,” Erik Joule, Strava’s chief marketing and commerce officer said in a press release.

Apple featured model Christy Turlington Burns, founder of Every Mother Counts and a dedicated marathoner, as the first person in the world to finish a half marathon using an Apple Watch. Turlington ran the Kilimanjaro Half Marathon on March 1 using the Apple Watch. She will also use the device—while blogging about her experiences on Apple.com—in preparation for next month’s London Marathon, where she hopes to break four hours.

“It’s motivation—not just for training but for everyday things,” Turlington said during the press event. “During the race I relied on workout app to track time, measure distance and push my pace. In my short time using it, I can already see how it will be an important part of my life. I relied on it pretty heavily [during the half marathon]. There was a lot of altitude and elevation, so I checked it quite frequently.”

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