Apple Watch a hit on the mountain: 25% of Slopes app skiers and riders start tracking via ...

in Apple Watch edited February 2018
While third-party apps for Apple Watch remain something of a mixed bag, at least one developer has found a very popular use case for their watchOS app: Consumed by Code's skiing and snowboarding app Slopes sees one-quarter of its users start recording rides down the mountain via Apple Watch.

Via Instagram.

The developer revealed high Apple Watch usage in the release notes for its revamped Slopes app, which hit iOS and watchOS on Wednesday. The update coincides with a number of other mountain-focused app updates that dropped on Tuesday, to allow fitness tracking from skiing and snowboarding on Apple Watch Series 3 and watchOS 4.2.

For Slopes, 25 percent of skiers and snowboarders using the app start recording via Apple Watch, rather than the iPhone app.

With the new update, the watch will become even more appealing on the mountain, turning Slopes into a full-fledged workout app, complete with Activity ring credits. The update also allows all skiing and snowboarding apps to become the default app to show when the user raises their wrist, just like with the native Workout app.

Other winter sports-focused Apple Watch apps updated on Wednesday include snoww, Squaw Alpine, Snowcru, and Ski Tracks.

Apple's enhancements to watchOS allow skiing and snowboarding apps to tap into the Apple Watch's heart rate monitor, allowing for more accurate measurement of calories burned. Apps can also connect with the Apple Health platform.

And with Apple Watch Series 3, native apps can accomplish these tasks without the use of an iPhone nearby, using built-in LTE data. In addition, Series 3 and Series 2 models with GPS can track distance and speed on their own, even when cellular reception is spotty or nonexistent on the slopes.

The success of Slopes for Apple Watch comes as other developers have publicly lamented the limitations of WatchKit tools for developers, asserting that Apple itself does not build native Apple Watch apps with the same capabilities provided to third-party app creators. Marco Arment, creator of podcast player Overcast, sparked a discussion this week when he declared that the current watchOS tools will only allow developers to create "baby apps" that are not nearly as fully functional as they could be.

"Developing Apple Watch apps is extremely frustrating and limited for one big reason: unlike on iOS, Apple doesn't give app developers access to the same watchOS frameworks that they use on Apple Watch," Arment wrote. "Instead, we're only allowed to use WatchKit, a baby UI framework that would've seemed rudimentary to developers even in the 1990s."


  • Reply 1 of 3
    I wonder if the WatchKit limitations are to keep developers from killing the (small) battery?... I could see developers with unrestricted access just doin something because they can with no regard for how it affects battery life.
    Complete speculation here, but sounds plausible.
  • Reply 2 of 3
    I've used Slopes for a week last January and I really like it. Battery was good for a whole day of use, and the many of the features are pretty cool and useful. The only thing is that the pro features seem kinda expensive and the pricing tears don't make much sense in my opinion. I'm curious to see how the app compares to the new AW ability to count snowboarding distances, max speed, etc.
  • Reply 3 of 3
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    Apple doesn't do much by accident, so I have to assume that keeping WatchKit restricted in power has some valid reasons.

    But it comes with a cost:   A good example is, for serious runners, the AW simply can't compete with the Garmins.  Yes, the AW has all the hardware it needs.  The deficiency is in the software.  Garmin software runs circles around anything available on the Apple Watch and, most serious performance oriented runners wouldn't be caught dead with an Apple Watch.   Actually, I know several who use their Apple Watch while at the office -- but trade it for a Garmin when they run.   I find that sad and (to me) unnecessary.
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