Skip to main content

WatchOS 10 doesn’t fix my biggest issue with the Apple Watch

watchOS 10 presented at WWDC 2023.

As expected, WWDC 2023 was a packed show. From exciting new features in iOS 17 to a 15-inch MacBook Air to Apple’s first foray into VR with the Vision Pro headset, there was plenty to get excited about. But I was focused on how Apple would improve the Apple Watch with watchOS 10.

To Apple’s credit, there’s a lot about watchOS 10 that looks great. The new design for full-screen apps is gorgeous, accessing widgets on your watch face is an ingenious idea, and I’m in love with the two new watch faces.

But for all the things Apple got right with its watchOS 10 update, I can’t help but look at it and feel disappointed. Why? There was one big change I was hoping to see — and Apple didn’t address it at all.

The Activity app looks great, but …

watchOS 10 presented at WWDC 2023.

One of the biggest aspects of watchOS 10 is the new design language for apps. First- and third-party apps will now use the entire display to present information, and they look lovely. This also applies to the Activity app.

You still have the Activity Rings to look at when you open the app, but instead of scrolling and swiping to view information, you’ll find three shortcuts on the corners — including quick access to your activity stats, your friends’ shared activity, and your awards/trophies.

watchOS 10 presented at WWDC 2023.

In addition to easier navigation, the app has also gotten a big visual upgrade. Your awards are now better organized into various categories, and the different pages for your Move, Exercise, and Stand goals now have beautiful full-screen views that look better than ever.

I never had a big problem with the layout of the Apple Watch’s Activity app, but it’s still nice to see considerable changes made to it. It looks more practical, is visually pleasing, and should be an all-around improvement over what we’ve previously had.

… it still has the same issues as before

An Apple Watch Series 8 running the Activity app.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

However, as nice as the Activity app looks, Apple failed to do the one thing I was hoping for: A reimagining of its activity/fitness tracking.

How you track activity on the Apple Watch hasn’t changed since the first model launched in 2015. You’re tasked with filling your three rings each day, they all reset the next day, and then you’re expected to do it all over again. It gives you clear, simple goals to work toward, and it provides a great snapshot of your activity for a given day. But while its simplicity is what makes it work so well for so many people, it’s also the Apple Watch’s biggest downfall.

I recently ditched my Apple Watch for a Garmin watch, and the impact it’s had on my own fitness journey has been significant. My Garmin gives me suggested runs each day based on numerous health factors, and has legitimately helped me become a better runner. If I really push myself with an exercise or don’t get enough sleep, Garmin isn’t afraid to suggest a rest day, so I don’t overexert myself. My Training Readiness score shows me how well-equipped I am to push myself or if I need to take a breather.

The point is that Garmin — and other fitness platforms — offer tools that go far beyond closing three rings every day. The Apple Watch doesn’t account for rest days, doesn’t recommend personalized workouts, and doesn’t offer any insight into how much you should or shouldn’t push yourself.

That’s fine for someone who’s just getting started with their fitness journey and simply wants to increase their activity, but the minute you start taking things more seriously, you quickly find yourself yearning for more. That’s what happened with me, and a fresh coat of paint for the Activity app isn’t enough to win me back.

Apple needs to rethink activity tracking

watchOS 10 presented at WWDC 2023.

Will Apple ever redo its rings system? I honestly don’t know. The idea of closing Apple Watch rings is so engrained into the wearable that walking away from it would likely do more harm than good.

And I’m fine with that! But there has to be a way to keep the rings while adding something more to it. Let people take rest days! Let us see how good (or bad) sleep quality impacts training readiness! Analyze my health data to recommend types of workouts that I should do!

The Apple Watch is one of the best fitness trackers on the planet, but it’s disappointing to see its excellent hardware and great software design continually held back year after year.

Here’s to hoping watchOS 11 does something about this.

Editors' Recommendations

Joe Maring
Section Editor, Mobile
Joe Maring is the Section Editor for Digital Trends' Mobile team, leading the site's coverage for all things smartphones…
This case turned my Apple Watch into an Apple Watch Ultra … kind of
a Nomad Rugged Case and band on a wooden table

Whenever a new Apple Watch is released, I buy the less expensive aluminum model, even though it increases the risk of scratching or breaking the wearable device. Aluminum, unfortunately, is not nearly as forgiving as the titanium found on the Apple Watch Ultra or the stainless steel on more expensive Apple Watch Series 8 models.

Don't believe me? Last year, my teenage daughter inherited my Apple Watch Series 6, but it didn't last long after a minor bike accident on dirt and asphalt. Over time, even with regular use, you should expect some nicks and scratches on the aluminum Apple Watch models.

Read more
I ditched my Apple Watch 6 months ago. Here’s why I’m going back
Overhead view of an Apple Watch Ultra resting on a wooden patio.

This has been a wild year for smartwatches. Yes, there have been plenty of great releases in 2023 (with more yet to come), but it's also the year that I decided to really shake up my personal smartwatch collection.

This past March, I did the unthinkable and replaced my Apple Watch with a Garmin watch. After wearing an Apple Watch as my primary wearable for so many years, the appeal of more robust health tracking, effective running training, and days of battery life on the Garmin Forerunner 265 swept me off my feet.

Read more
Dear Apple, please don’t release an Apple Watch Ultra 2 this year
Apple Watch Ultra being worn showing off the Action Button.

It’s almost time for Apple’s fall event, which means new iPhones and Apple Watches. There’s no doubt that we’ll be seeing the iPhone 15 lineup next month, along with the Apple Watch Series 9. However, it’s a bit unclear if we’ll also see the next iteration of the Apple Watch Ultra, though some sparse rumors seem to point to “maybe.”

The first generation Apple Watch Ultra was only released last September, and it has been a big success. It’s the first significant design change for the Apple Watch as a whole, with some impressive new hardware features like the Action Button, much better battery life, and more.

Read more