Apple Watch Setup & Notes
Fitdigits Apple Watch Apps
We are very excited to add Apple Watch support to our lineup, including iCardio, iRunner, iBiker, and iWalker.
In the first release we concentrated mostly on functionality and basic activity types – Cardio, Run, Walk, Dog Walk and Bike. You can tap the gear icon on any of them and choose Indoor or Outdoor. The ability to show your favorited activity types will follow shortly, as will metric screen improvements.
The first version offers two modes:
- Activity mode: A remote to the phone, you can run, pause, and stop activities, get heart rate from the watch, view in-workout metrics, and more.
- Heart Rate Only mode: this will show your current heart rate on the watch, and can be used in our app with the phone to track heart rate within an activity, or simply use it to see your heart rate. Note that a force-touch is required to cancel the HR readings, or, if you do run it with the app in an activity tracked on the phone, ending the activity will end the HR readings. HR takes up a bit of battery, so you probably don’t want it running endlessly in the background.
- An Apple Watch must be paired with your Apple iPhone.
- The Apple Watch must be running WatchOS 3.0 or higher. Phone must be on iOS 9+.
- While doing an activity, the iPhone must be in the proximity (bluetooth) with the Watch.
- You must have all appropriate permissions (see below for more). Mostly Apple Health Heart Rate permissions (see Partners section).
- You must have a Plus, Pro, Pro Plus or Star membership for the account to use Heart Rate from the Watch.
See the bottom of this article for troubleshooting and what to do in case of issues.
Step 1: Download and Install from iTunes
- After initial download and logging in to the app, open the Apple Watch app on the phone.
- Scroll down until you get to the app you installed listed. Tap on that, then turn on “Show App on Apple Watch”
- Make sure, if you are going to use the Watch for Heart Rate, you go into the watch app General and make very sure “Workout Power Saving” mode is not on – that will actually prevent heart rate.
Step 2: Login and Enable Permissions
When you first install the app and watch, there are a few things, primarily permissions, that you need to look out for and enable. For people who are just overlaying the install on top of a previous install of the app, these may not be as critical, and you can skip to #3 below.
- On a fresh install, two permissions come up for Location and Notifications, tap Allow to allow them. You may also want to run an initial workout, and in the workout, tap the gear icon, then tap the camera, allow that permission, take a picture, then allow that permission as well. Just to get them all out of the way :).
- Login to your account, allow the app to sync through at least a few workouts to make sure all your account information has come down.
- Go to Partners > Apple Health – at a minimum for heart rate, enable Heart Rate permissions
- Go to Menu > Sensors, turn on the Apple Watch HRM to use the Watch as a Heart Rate Monitor. Turn off any other heart rate monitors you may have paired.
Step 3: Using the Watch during Activities
Issue: If you are using the phone as a base to start / stop etc, sometimes it will “save” the last BPM on the phone, and when a workout is started, it thinks it has the Watch since it has a bpm, but then it just never gets the updated readings / never actually launches on the watch again. If you hard close the app, that will clear that value, in which case starting from the phone will simply time out trying to get the heart rate.
When using the watch, it is best to either use the watch as the primary interface, or, hit the Gear icon on any type and pick the HRM Only option in that screen before using the phone to start the workout. Kind of like other heart rate monitors, it has to be functioning to get it to read correctly.
Using the Watch during Activities – Tips for a Better Experience
Tip 1: Tighten the Watch while Tracking Heart Rate
Please note that, like most wrist based HRMs, the values are not quite as accurate as those of chest straps or the Scosche Rhythm+. It helps to tighten the watch on the wrist area a little more while tracking HR, and also even to slide it down the forearm a bit farther from the wrist.
Tip 2: Extend the time the screen shows
For us, we found changing the settings on the watch from a 15 second time-out for the display to a 70 second time-out for the display made for a much better watch experience. You can do this in the Apple’s Watch app, under Settings > General.
Tip 3: Use Your 3rd Party Heart Rate Monitor
- Make sure your heart rate monitor is discoverable.
- Launch the Settings app on your Apple Watch.
- Tap on Bluetooth.
- Tap on the name of your device under Health Devices when it appears in order to pair it.
It will most likely improve the quality of the heart rate readings.
If you run into trouble, here are a few basics to know.
- The number one way to get a non-responsive watch instance back in line with the phone app is to open the phone app, start an activity then (even before full launch) cancel that activity. That has been shown to get things back communicating and initialized after loss of connection. We are working on better handling in this instance.
- Sometimes the connection mentioned above can be re-established by pinging the phone from the watch. You do that by having the home screen on the watch (not the main apps, but the main watch face) and swiping up from the bottom bezel to get the Watch equivalent of the phone controls. Then the Ping phone is the lower left button with the phone icon. Tap that and it will ping on the phone (a good way to find your phone too).
- If a workout is running – you can hear it in the background on your phone, but you don’t see it when you open the app, and #1 above doesn’t work, you may need to hard close the app on the phone.
- If the watch app gets in a state that might not be responding and you don’t see any buttons to press, you can try a full bezel swipe from left to right to go back a screen (swipe from the very edge of the bezel to the other side of the bezel on the watch). If that doesn’t help, you can hard close the watch app by following these steps:
- Make sure the app you want to hard close is the one running in the foreground.
- Push and hold the bottom button on the right of the watch until the power off screen appears.
- Push and hold the digital crown button. You will see it go back to the main apps screen, that hard closes the watch app.
- If no heart rate, see the installation note on making sure, in the Watch app, that in General settings, Workout Power Saving is OFF. If it is ON it won’t allow heart rate. We have seen where an update from Apple has switched this to on without anyone touching it themselves.
- If you ever need to re-install the iCardio Watch app, go into the Watch app on your phone. Tap on iCardio in the apps section on the My Watch tap. Turn the Show on Apple Watch switch to off, it will uninstall (wait…). Once uninstalled, tap it on to install it again.