'World's First Swim App' on Apple Watch Put to the Test in New Video

In the days and weeks after its launch last April, one of the biggest curiosities surrounding the Apple Watch was its tolerance to water. Thanks to a few initial tests -- from showers to high dive pools -- we now know that the Apple Watch is indeed a bit more waterproof than Apple promises, and with that in mind a few London-based iOS developers have created the "World's first swim app on the Apple Watch," and put it through its paces in a new video.

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Having designed a similar app for the Pebble, Ted Bradley and his team decided to take that idea -- a lapping, time, and heart rate monitoring swim app -- and transplant it onto the Apple Watch. The developers put each smartwatch to the same test, swimming four full lengths of the London Aquatic Centre's 50 meter pool. The test proved successful, with the Apple Watch mirroring the Pebble's results of a four lap, 200 meter swim. Apple's smartwatch even continued to measure heart rate successfully, raising from an initial 88bpm to 138bpm immediately after the test finished.

The only downside for the app is that the Apple Watch experiences a tiny bit of lag when waking it up to check out lap times, the developers explaining that only when the screen is awake can the app run through the data samples collected from the swim and take a few seconds to parse through the information and display it on screen. Elsewhere, the swimming data isn't locked into the app, all of the workout and heart rate information getting delivered to HealthKit like any other workout and adding to a user's daily exercise and move goals.


Of course, even though the app works, the developers are still referring to it as an "interesting technology demo," seeing that App Store Guidelines will immediately shut it down for encouraging users to use the Watch "in a way that may cause damage to the device." In the end, the app's creators just hope that Apple hears the calls for a fully-waterproof smartwatch and includes such features in the device's next generation.
We really hope that Apple see the demand for an official, fully waterproofed Apple Watch. Once that is available, we’ll be able to ship a fully featured swimming app. In the mean time, it would be great to see swimming become a first class citizen in the Apple Health and Activities apps. Running and cycling both have their own distance graphs you can view in the dashboard whilst for swimming you have to drill down to individual workouts.

Although you can’t swim with the Apple Watch, many people swim with other devices as well as logging their swim workouts manually on other apps. If there is a future ambition for Apple Health/HealthKit, Apple Watch, the new Activity app and ResearchKit to all tie up and tell the narrative that "Apple user's live longer healthier lives", then recording all fitness activity, including swimming, is a must.
The full blog post, where Bradley goes into detail about everything from his inspiration for creating the swim app to architectural challenges the team faced in creating it, is definitely worth a read.

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12 months ago
My only complaint I have about the Apple Watch is that the sport model is not really durable enough for a lot of sports. I'm nervous to wear my watch to the beach or during any sport where I might be hitting the ground too hard. Of course, I can't take it swimming either. Apple could design a much more durable watch that is completely waterproof and still looks good. I don't know why "sport" for them just means cheaper and lighter.
Rating: 11 Votes
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12 months ago

I don't know why Apple didn't fully waterproof the Watch. Perhaps at least the sport version. It seems that it's pretty much waterproof anyway… add a couple gaskets and go for full waterproofing already.


I think it's clear that the watch is waterproof but Apple didn't want to have it fail and have to refund people or have a lawsuit or class action if it wasn't durable enough to stay waterproof over the life of the watch.

I would expect the 2nd or 3rd Apple Watch to be advertised as waterproof once they have more data about the durability of the water seals.
Rating: 9 Votes
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12 months ago

the developers explaining that only when the screen is awake can the app run through the data samples collected from the swim and take a few seconds to parse through the information and display it on screen.


Ah, there's nothing like developing within limitations to really hone one's skills. It's the programming equivalent of high-altitude training.
Rating: 6 Votes
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12 months ago
I don't know why Apple didn't fully waterproof the Watch. Perhaps at least the sport version. It seems that it's pretty much waterproof anyway… add a couple gaskets and go for full waterproofing already.
Rating: 4 Votes
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12 months ago
They just need to be creative in the app description. It can be used to measure the number of widths of a football pitch you can run whilst flailing your arms windmill-style !

Call it Windy-Widths :)
Rating: 3 Votes
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12 months ago
I've been swimming with my Apple Watch for about a month now and so far so good. Since it's IP rated for 3 meters/30 minutes, I try to limit my swimming to around 30 minutes.

The watch was clearly designed to withstand water. I think the unknown factor is its long term durability. For that reason, I got AppleCare Plus.
Rating: 2 Votes
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12 months ago

Do you know of any links/blogs where people have been tracking similar usage, over time? I'd be very interested to get beyond these abstract debates and read more about real world experience. Plus, a big question: Anyone heard of any reports of a watch actually breaking from swimming?!!


We're going to swim the distance of the English Channel (41km) with our Apple Watch. Follow us at https://twitter.com/WatchSwimmer

We'll upload a map each time we've done a swim so you can follow the progress, along with any damage reports, videos/photos and hopefully some more updates on the progress of our Unreleasable Apple Watch Swim app!

Any suggestions, let us know.

If there is anyone in the London area capable of dissecting the Apple Watch to inspect for damage once we've completed/failed please get in touch.
Rating: 2 Votes
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12 months ago
This is fantastic. I want the waterproofed Apple Watch so much.
Rating: 2 Votes
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12 months ago
One of the biggest reasons I didn't even consider buying Gen1. I'm not a big swimmer when it comes to my fitness regimen, but I anticipate I'd be wearing an AW all the time - at the pool, water park, etc. I don't need 100 meters, but at least give me 50. If you're dropping over $300 on a watch, it ought to be waterproof. Especially one with 'Sport' in the name.
Rating: 2 Votes
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12 months ago
When full apps are allowed to run on the watch, apps like this would be much more useful. I look forward to the possibility (hopefully apple allows them)

What I'd like to know is why can't they make touch screens work underwater? They work on different in capacitance, right? Surely there's a difference between water and human skin in water - can't they just calibrate it to detect that?


I wonder if force touch would be a good option for underwater use. Force touch combined with the digital crown could potentially make for a suitable underwater experience. But of course it would add an extra layer of complexity.
Rating: 1 Votes
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