• Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Power meter connectivity is coming to the Apple Watch – could it do away with the dedicated bike computer?

Power meter connectivity is coming to the Apple Watch – could it do away with the dedicated bike computer?

Apple announced several updates yesterday at their annual WWDC event (World Wide Developers Conference), including WatchOS 10 for the Apple Watch, including redesigned apps and additional watch faces. However, we’re most interested in the new Bluetooth cycling sensor support that includes power meter connectivity. Will it be seeing fitness watches and phones instead of a dedicated bike computer?

Previously, the Apple Watch had a dedicated cycling workout mode that used built-in sensors and GPS to track cycling activity, including distance, duration, heart rate and calories burned. It also supported various third-party cycling apps such as Strava.

When we reviewed the Apple Watch Series 7, one limitation was that it couldn’t connect to cycling sensors. Now with Apple’s new watchOS 10 software update, you can connect to cycling sensors via Bluetooth and use all the data you get from a dedicated GPS computer to turn your iPhone into a comprehensive head unit on your bike handlebars.

WatchOS 10 enables power meter, speed sensor and cadence sensor connectivity, allowing those with a more serious cycling focus to monitor their training in more detail.

New Bluetooth cycling sensor support allows connection to Smart Turbo trainers that transmit Bluetooth Smart and GymKit, as well as third-party apps such as Strava if this new connectivity is included. Cadence data can be obtained from a power meter and speed data from a PowerTap hub or smart trainers.

> What is FTP? 7 important facts to know about functional threshold power, an important training metric

Using power meter and heart rate data, new algorithms are said to be able to calculate Functional Threshold Power (FTP) through data collected by the Apple Watch. FTP can be used to calculate personalized power zones and can be useful as a benchmark for measuring changes in fitness over time.

These power zones are customizable, you can choose how many zones you want and the range of each zone. They can be used in structured workouts and presented in data fields on the watch.

> Is a smartphone better than a cycling computer?

When you start a cycling workout from an Apple Watch in WatchOS 10, it will show up as live activity on the iPhone, allowing the data on the Apple Watch to be mirrored on the iPhone’s full screen when the screen is clicked.

You can mount your phone on the handlebars to view data like heart rate zones, elevation and power and turn your phone and watch into a proper bike computer. So, can we expect to see a device that does everything in the future?

Maps is a feature that enables cycling-specific directions and navigation, and now with watchOS 10 and new Maps, Compass automatically generates the last location for cellular reception so emergency calls can be made.

These new features add to the previous fall detection technology and emergency SOS feature, which cyclists have praised for saving their lives. It can detect if you have a heavy fall while cycling and prompt you to initiate an emergency SOS call.

> Cyclist says Apple Watch saved his life after driver knocked him off bike

Other new features include redesigned apps, new watch faces and tools to support mental health, and the update is expected to be available for download in September, in line with Apple’s annual release cycle of new watches and phones.


What are your thoughts on the new features in WatchOS 10 and will it make you ditch your bike computer? As always let us know in the comments section below.

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