Health and fitness are their own reward… but there’s nothing like shoving those rewards in the faces of your friends!
The Apple Watch has a built-in Activity app that tracks the calories you’ve burned, the brisk activity you’ve engaged in, and the frequency of your standing up and moving around. Do well and you’re rewarded with an achievement. It’s a great way to motivate people, and a type of gamification that feeds us the same sense of accomplishment we get when we solve a puzzle and make it to the next level. In classical terms, it’s us against ourselves.
Some people, however, aren’t as self-motivated or self-disciplined. Some people are competitive and they don’t just want to do well — they want to do the best. That’s where challenges come in.
Apple’s Game Center already does a lot of this purely for entertainment. You can issue challenges, get matched up, view leaderboards, and see how you stack up against your friends. It’s a social network for gaming, much like Xbox Live or PSN.
Some health and fitness apps have social network components as well. They let you have friends, issue challenges, and see how everyone is ranking. People can get overly competitive at times, but in the best cases it motivates everyone to want to get to top of the family, the group of friends, the work group, or whatever.
Activity app, Game Center leaderboard, and the Fitbit leaderboard.
Right now, with the Activity app on Apple Watch, I can see if I made my calorie goal, my standing goal, and my exercise goal, but I can see if I did better than Ally, Georgia, or Serenity. And I kind of want to do better than Ally, Georgia, and Serenity!
Apple almost certainly knows this. They’ve seen the health and fitness apps that have challenges and leaderboards. They’ve run their own challenges. It might just be something they haven’t had the time to implement yet.
But It’d be great if they prioritized it for the next update. I’d love to have my Game Center friends — or Fitness Center friends if the company thinks a distinct network is best — to stay motivated with. It’s just one more tool to help me towards a better, healthier, fitter life.
We’ve filed a feature request for Activity challenges and leaderboards with Apple’s bug reporter: rdar://20774993.