Apple Watch versus Garmin 920
The Garmin Forerunner 920 was my 3rd Forerunner and my 1st “smart” watch. Smart in that it would alert me to iOS notifications from my iPhone. That is, when the 920 decided it wanted to actually connect to my iPhone (which happened less and less as time wore on and updates happened.) These were just alerts and I could not do anything to reply to them or respond to them from the Garmin.
This feature was one of the main reasons I switched over from the 910 to the 920 (there were others, like wifi and auto-upload and color display and better GPS control and metronome, etc). My husband got the 920 as well and felt the smart alerts were gimmicky. Soon, we both became quite dependent on them and frustrated at how dumb the smart alerts were! And when the device failed to remain consistently connected to the iPhone, it would frustrate us.
When I first got the 920, I said I wouldn’t get the Apple Watch because “it’s not water proof and I don’t need it when I have the 920!” That changed when the issues of connectivity became constant and when it was announced the Apple Watch would ship the day before my birthday. SOLD!
Now I’ve had my 38mm Apple Sport Pink watch for a week and have put it through daily walks, interval bike rides, and a long 50 mile bike ride connected to my Mio VELO Heart Rate monitor. I’ve compared it to my Garmin Edge 1000 data and have seen the battery life averages for daily use. My thoughts:
1. This does not replace a Garmin for the triathletes, cyclists, or consistent runners.
2. As a fitness tracker, I have a love/hate relationship with the Stand Notifications.
3. As a Smart Watch – it’s an essential tool for me.
If you’ve read this far you are probably an owner of a Forerunner and/or Edge. The MAIN reason why this device is nearly USELESS for cyclists is that the screen is on only when you raise the device. And then it shows for only about a 7 seconds before it goes back to black. Meaning, you need to take your hand off the handlebar, glance at your wrist until the device turns on and then put your arm back on the handlebars. If you miss that 7 second display – like it’s too bright and you can’t see it in the sun (which is the case) then you have to either tap the display with your other hand (now we are hands free!) or rotate your wrist yet again to make it wake up. This is way too distracting for the kind of riding most folks do. Either pedestrians, cars, road hazards, roots, rocks, glass, whatever – is more important to be focusing on.
My husband has run with it and this is the main issue he has as well. Waiting for screen to display means you have to hold up your arm for much longer or do it more often. I won’t even get into the display layout and the data it shows you. Just seeing it is too much effort for the serious running workout. And by serious I mean full-out track sessions, or tempo runs where you are striving for a hard pace. I’ve used it for jogs and easy runs where I could care less about pace really and more about just being out there for a run.
Water Proof? IPX7 – 1 meter for 30 min. So yes, you can sweat on it, it can get caught in the rain. But I wouldn’t swim with it like you can with the Forerunner.
Programmable Workouts and Courses? No
Does it report to Strava or Training Peaks? Not directly. But theoretically it writes to the Health App, which you can set up to have Strava read from, which COULD translate over. However, Strava isn’t talking to the Health App and hasn’t been since last November.
For Fitness Tracking – I prefer the Apple Watch over the Garmin 920. I love the Stand reminders during the work day – but hate them after 6pm! I like that you can adjust your daily calorie burn goal. Is there a social element to it like there is on Garmin Connect? No. Not yet. But give Apple time. Someone will make this competitive. Game Center anyone?
As a Smart Watch it is everything I wanted it to be and then some. I can reply to texts and phone calls on the watch directly. I can read emails and 3rd party notifications (but not reply) and dismiss or trash them as needed. I use Siri all the time! While cooking – set a timer. While walking the dog – remind me to call Liz when I get home. After meetings – Remind me to follow up with this client in 2 weeks. All of this done without having to take out my phone or even touch my watch.
Some Surprise Features
1. iTunes and Apple TV control directly from the watch. YES. This is epic. And is done via the wifi connection of the phone to the computer/TV. So as long as your phone is on the same wifi and your Apple Watch is connected to your phone you can control these devices! I really wish I could get the Remote App into Glances!
2. Camera viewfinder and controller. Possibilities = endless. Just wait.
3. The activation process was Just. Awesome.
Right now I feel like we are back at the beginning of the Apple App Store (well, we are actually) as the selection of apps is limited. The 3rd party Apps that I auto added to my Apple Watch App are not very good. The Strava App is USELESS. I deleted it almost immediately. The Dark Sky App is ok. The Instagram App is meh. No Facebook App as of yet and I’m not missing it. I have a few others but at this time they take way too long to load and haven’t found the “feel” just yet that makes me go “Oh! This is perfect!”