Apple has just released a new version of its wearable operating system, which gives your Apple Watch several extra features to help runners train smarter. Apple has been gradually encroaching on Garmin's territory in recent years, with the addition of features like running power from the wrist and triathlon mode making the Apple Watch a serious training tool, and this latest update makes it even more appealing.
As Gadgets&Wearables reports, WatchOS 9.2 is rolling out to Apple Watch owners now, adding two new training tools: automatic running track detection, and the ability to race against a virtual partner on one of your regular routes.
Once you've received the new software, your watch will automatically detect when you have arrived at a running track and, according to Apple, use both Apple Maps data and GPS to provide the most accurate pace, distance, and route map. It will even ask which lane you are using to calculate the distance as accurately as possible.
This should eliminate the problem track runners sometimes experience with even the best GPS watches, where their training sessions appear as a spaghetti-like tangle of loops rather than neat ovals, courtesy of GPS drift,
It appears that this feature is currently only available for running tracks in the US, but hopefully it will be extended to more countries in the coming months.
The other new feature I'm excited about is Race Route, which lets you race against your best time on a route you've run at least twice before. We all have regular routes that we default to when we just want to get out and run without too much planning, and this is a great way to spice things up while also checking the impact of your training on your performance. The watch will warn you if you stray off your usual route, so don't even think about taking a shortcut.
Keep training longer
The latest version of watchOS is particularly good news for Apple Watch Ultra owners, who can now expect their watch to give up to 17 hours of continuous use in multisport mode, with no impact on GPS accuracy or heart rate tracking.
That's good news for Ironman competitors – particularly first-timers and those in the veteran age categories, who are too often neglected. According to RunTri.com, the average finishing time for a man in the 70-74 age grouping is 15:50, while for women in the same category it's 16:53.
If the Apple Watch Ultra proves popular enough, the company may release a second-generation model with even better battery life at its product launch event in September next year. For more thoughts, check out our feature Apple Watch Ultra 2: what it needs to succeed.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).