Apple Watch Series 3: what’s in it for cyclists?

Built-in 4G LTE, barometric altimeter, a new heart rate algorithm and more

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Along side the new iPhone and a few other gadgets Apple today introduced the Watch Series 3. The new unit sees built-in cellular capabilities, intelligent coaching, a barometric altimeter, and a faster processor. Here’s what it means for cyclists.

A notable omission from the spec provided by Apple is the integrated powermeter for which the tech behemoth filed a patent application for back in March.

You used to call me on my cell phone

The new watch sees a built in 4G LTE cellular chip

Available in two version, GPS + Cellular and GPS, the former features a full 4G LTE and cellular radio that activates automatically when the watch is away from your iPhone  if you’ve got Bluetooth headphones you can make calls through the watch even if you’ve left your phone at home. No need for a second SIM card as the watch uses a built in eSIM that allows it to use your phone number.

This is an interesting step as it means you could potentially leave your phone at home and still be able to call for a ride home if you get stranded on the side of the road. It also means you’ll be able to access maps again sans phone.

We’re happy to see the addition of a built in barometric altimeter for accurate altitude data, and as with the Watch Series 2, the new model is waterproof down to 50m.

As part of watchOS4 Apple has updated the heart rate algorithm

The new watch also comes with watchOS4, including the updated Heart Rate app and a new and improved algorithm to gather more accurate data during rest, workout, recovery, walking and ‘Breathe’ sessions.

You can also set up notifications for when your heart rate is elevated above a specific threshold while inactive, this could be very useful for tracking resing heart rate and fatigue. Notably, it seems Apple has used the same optical sensor as the earlier models, only time will tell if the updated algorithm improves accuracy.

Also new for watchOS4 is the High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) option in the workout app, Gymkit, auto sets for pool swims and Quick Switch for swapping between run, swim, bike etc without having to log multiple workouts.

Intervals, gym equipment, and more

Rather than relying on GPS altitude data the new Watch Series 3 gets a built in barometric altimeter

Apple still hasn’t told us exactly what the HIIT mode in the workout app does, but we’d say it will guide you through sport specific intervals sessions based on your personal heart rate zones.

GymKit allows users to pair their Apple Watch directly to Gym equipment like spin bikes, and have the watch collect data directly from the machine. The initial list of supported machines is missing the likes of Wahoo, Tacx, Wattbike, and other cycling specific equipment but that’s not to say they won’t be added down the line.

Powering the Watch Series 3 is Apple’s S3 third-generation architecture, featuring a faster dual-core processor which according to brand allows for quicker app launch times, smoother graphics, and enables Siri to speak using the built-in speaker.

Apple has announced a new Watch Series 3

Apple also claims a new W2 wireless chip makes Wi-Fi 85-percent fast and Bluetooth 50-percent more efficient, all while still providing a claimed 18-hour battery life and keeping an almost identical form factor.

There are also new additions to the music app, including using the cellular service to stream directly from Apple music.

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Apple will open pre orders for the Watch Series three on Sep 15, 2017, with the units appearing in stores on Sept 22. The GPS + Cellular version starts at £399 / $399 / AU$559 and the GPS version £329 / $329 / AU$459.