Apple Watch, Activity Rings, and Move goals

Apple Watch, Activity Rings, and Move goals
Photo by Andres Urena / Unsplash

I love my Apple Watch and I cannot understate how important it is to me as a device and where I use it the most is as a tool for my health and fitness.

I’ve written about how I use the Strava to track my runs and a run this will go some way—often all the way—to closing both the Move and Exercise rings of the three Activity Rings. I also use the stock Workouts app for logging other exercise I do and most of the time I'll close all three of the Activity Rings.

However in my opinion there’s a flaw in the way that the Apple Watch encourages users to close their rings. It’s pretty much that it's an all or nothing approach.

If you’ve not got an Apple Watch, allow me to explain. Every Monday you’re prompted to set a Move goal of a number of calories to burn every day. You’re incentivised, beyond your own health of course, by digital badges that you can collect for maintaining a daily streak, doubling (or tripling) your daily goal, and in a number of other ways too.

Rather than seeing this as a goal to push myself towards I approach this goal as a minimum. Yes, I might lowball the number that I'm capable of and often I'll grossly exceed it but it means I'm maintaining a baseline of activity.

Another flaw in this goal is that I can't opt to change the goal midweek, say if I become sick or pick up an injury. There is a way to change the daily goal but it could be a much better experience, and an encouraging sign to the user, if rest days or just needing to take a break is encouraged. Such functionality would put more control in the hands of the user.

It's one feature I wish Apple would introduce to the WatchOS platform—the ability to permit yourself, at the beginning of the week, a number of rest days to free yourself from the tyranny of the Move goal that Monday-you signed up for but Friday-you is struggling to meet.

There's ways the Watch could be proactive in this regard. The Trends feature introduced in iOS 13 and WatchOS 6 could be applied on a weekly level and if the user is tracking lower over the course of the week a prompt could be sent to lower the Move goal for the rest of the week with a suggestion that's achievable based on the data available.