02/28/2018 – UPDATE: Apple adds ability to track ski and snowboard sessions
After announcing their latest upgrade to the Apple Watch last week, Apple today released the device to eager consumers.
The big news from the Cupertino, CA giant was the addition of a cellular radio to the wrist-worn device, enabling users to make and receive calls, messages, and emails independent of their iPhone. And potentially even more exciting is the ability to have ’40 million songs on your wrist’, with the connected device soon having (via a future software update) access to Apple Music. No longer will we suffer from nomophobia if we leave our phone at home, in the car, in the locker or it dies from lack of charge or the extreme cold. For good, or bad, we can now be even more connected.
And from a safety point of view, if you have an accident or are involved in an avalanche, it could make calling for help and letting people know where you are, way quicker and easier.
But for fans of downhill pursuits, there may be even greater news. Whilst GPS was added to earlier revisions, making the Watch great for runners and cyclists, the latest and greatest has added a barometric altimeter for measuring the altitude. This will be great for those who hike, ski, snowboard or run up mountains.
During the presentation last week, Jeff Williams, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, informed the collected media that in a very near-future software update (before winter) Apple will be adding ski and snowboard session tracking.
Session tracking has been possible on smartphones for years, through various apps. For the geeks amongst us, it’s great fun at the end of the day to compare top speed, most and highest air, most vertical and many other stats with friends and family to introduce a bit of friendly competition into our day, and for the accumulative season, and to push us to ride even harder. But to see this data during the day involves taking your gloves off, taking your phone from your pocket and risking dropping it from a chair, or losing it down a slope. The potential for having this data on your wrist is awesome.
It will also be great for keeping in touch with our buddies on the slopes, being able to see on live, interactive maps, where our group is. And with the new Apple Watch Series 3, we can offload this task to our wrist, preserving phone battery as well as tracking heart rate at the same time. That time that goober cuts you up, or when you almost don’t land that jump, see how your heart rate spikes! Or have you skied long and hard enough to burn enough calories to earn that happy hour PBR, pizza slice and cinnamon bun?
As with any new hardware, it takes time for it to become widely adopted. So what is even more exciting is how developers will use this new device and integrate it into their apps. Maybe Vail and their Epic resorts could push current lift wait times to your wrist as they’ll know where you are on the mountain or let you know of any lift closures. Or incoming weather, or terrain openings to get the fresh tracks… the possibilities are endless.
I currently use Trace Snow to track my day’s skiing (from this I gained the invaluable knowledge that in 2016 I skied over 1 million vertical feet) but am looking forward to trying out new apps this winter and seeing what the new Apple Watch Series 3 can bring to my day.
Which, if any, apps do you use to track your day on the mountain? And what is your proudest achievement?!