How the Freeletics App should be better integrated with the Moto 360

I try to be as sporty as can be and although I tend to get lazy after a few weeks or months and lose interest again, I do try to stay generally fit. I love to go for a run from time to time to clear my mind, stare into the distance and show my eyes that there is more to life than just a 13″ retina screen.

To get inspired I started using one of my my now favorite apps called Freeletics. Freeletics is more than just an app, but a full-fledge community of sports and health conscious cracks and athletes who enjoy pushing their bodies to the limit. The Freeletics app is very easy to use, you pick out a workout you want to do, hit start and you get going. The rest of course is up to you.

freeletics profile picture

What is Freeletics?

Freeletics is a sports community of athletes that focusses on quality of work outs, combining strength and endurance in “short” high intensity training sessions.

Freeletics contains three types of training: Workouts, Exercises and Runs.

  1. Workouts are a given set of exercises which have to be completed in the exact same order and number as stated. Workouts can appear in different types and volumes which allows for specific training of cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance and strength.
  2. Exercises are a given number of repetitions for a single movement. They exist from the low to the high repetition range to train strength, speed and stamina.
  3. Runs are a given distance and contain sprinting over medium to long distances. Runs are ideal for training of cardiovascular endurance but also to complement a strength training program.

Freeletics be part of the movement

Of these 3 types of trainings, that can be combined within a single session as the athlete would like, the most obvious one to use your smartwatch with is the running part. Using the gps in your phone to track your distance, as well as the integrated “steps-counter” in the Moto 360, this is the most straight-forward form of integrating your smartphone into your workout. However as the Moto 360 does not have an integrated gps module inside the watch, you would always need to take your phone with you to track where you currently are.

New Sports and Health features with Android Wear 5.1.1.?

This might change with the new Android Wear version 5.1.1, that will be brought to your Moto 360 soon and supports a WIFI connection between your watch and the phone, so that you can leave your phone at home. It remains to be seen if this would mean that the Moto360 would still track your steps and distance accurately if you leave your phone at home, but that is something that it currently already does.

Update 19th of June 2015, the new android wear version 5.1.1 is out and has brought Wi-Fi connectivity to the Motorola 360. I am currently testing what this actually does and how we can use it differently with fanatics and all the exercises that we want to do. At first glance, the new software version of android for smart watches has brought quite a few improvements but the freeletics app is still not entirely supported.

This means that we will have to wait a bit longer until the freeletics team release a full fledged Smart watch integrated solution that will work on any smart watch. As I’ve understood it so far the first thing that they will be working on is an Apple watch version of the app. This does not mean that an android app is not around the corner, but the focus is more on the Apple watch at this time. Nevertheless I think that there should be a few functionalities that Freeletics and Motorola should incorporate the new software versions of both the smart watch and the app.

How could Freeletics and my Moto 360 work together?

What would be absolutely grand is if I could use the health monitoring features that the Moto 360 has, to track the progress in my workouts. My favourite smartwatch has a heartbeat monitor and could in theory keep track of my pulse whilst doing my exercises – or my recovery times after a tough workout. That way I could actually see how I have improved my general health and fitness over time.

The Moto 360  could track my heart rate during exercises and measure my recovery times

One feature of Freeletics is the Freeletics coach. A coach helps you put a suitable training plan together for you and tells you what you should be doing to get fit. If the coach would have the information on how I am recovering from various exercises, he could help me structure my trainings even better. The Freeletics coach could for example tell you whether I should be focussing more on cardio exercises or strength – and it would see which exact sessions push my heart rate to its limits.

become a free athlete freeletics

The goal with Freeletics is not just to do a number of sets, but they have added a competitive time element to it. The “faster” you do the workouts the “better” – well at least it looks cool to some of your friends maybe. Although I never really focus on getting my workout done as quickly as possible, but more on doing it right, it would be very convenient if I could simply tap my wrist to go to the next exercise instead of having to pick up my phone every time between sets. Alternatively, I could also just “say/tell” my Moto 360 to skip to the next exercise with a special code word that triggers that action (just like using the “Okay Google” command).

It would be very convenient if I could simply tap my wrist to go to the next exercise

Early morning Freeletics workout aftermath
Early morning Freeletics workout aftermath

Integrated health check: something the Apple Watch can do already, is regularly check and read when I am exercising. It reads the pulse of whoever wears the Apple watch and when the heartrate goes up it understands that I did something. The activity heartrate measurement works best when doing cardio workouts though. Since I definitely get my pulse up nicely when doing Freeletics, it could easily measure and see that I started working out.

The Moto 360 on the other hand, only registers the heartbeat of the user when it is explicitly instructed to do so, or when the user is in “action” – meaning moving from A to B. When I am doing my general workouts though, I hardly ever leave the spot I had started on. This is something that a Freeletics integration could take advantage of, and next to measuring my health statistics when I am doing sports, also track it during the days to see what my general fitness is like. Understanding the users “pulse” and general fitness is key to giving him or her the best advice on how he/she should do sports and how they can improve their health.

Active counter, when I am doing a certain exercise, such as push ups, sit-ups, pull-ups or burpees, my hand-movement is very distinct. I could image that it would not be very difficult to (depending on the workout that I am currently doing) count the number of repetitions that I have done so far – in real time. That way it would be virtually impossible to cheat the system. One more added benefit would be that the watch could jump to the next exercise within the workout whenever I am done with the current one.

With an automatic counter it would be virtually impossible to cheat the Freeletics app

Let’s say that I am doing sets of 50 burbees, followed by 30 push-ups, and 50 sit-ups; after the first 50 burpees my watch could vibrate slightly – indicating a new exercise – show me what I have to do and start the countdown from the top again (namely with the 30 push-ups). That way I would finally not have to get up to reach out for my phone and switch over to the next exercise and save me a few precious seconds that I desperately need to beat my personal best time.

Freeletics: Unleash the potential of wearables

The bottom line is: “I do not like the fact that I have to change my watch 3x a day and I want to use 1 universal stylish gadget to do all that.” I think that smartwatches and fitness apps are destined to work more closely together and there is absolutely no reason they should not. This is one part of the wearables business that should rapidly be improved. The technology is already there, and I think that there are loads of ideas out there that simply need to be put into practise.

Unleash the true potential of wearables!

The last few years a clear focus has been on cardio vascular activities, such as running, swimming and biking and improving gps connection on “smartwatches” such as the SUUNTO Ambit (which is a fantastic sports watch).  Hardcore sportsmen and fitness cracks will surely not get rid of their Garmin sports watch and Suunto watches any time soon, but for regular casual consumers who do sports once or twice a week, there is not really much incentive to buy a separate watch for another 300-400 $/€. The B2C sports world has been evolving quickly in the last few years, and it is time to bring the world of wearables to the next level.

PS: If you live in Zürich (Switzerland) feel free to join me for a workout or two whenever you want. Just use the contact form to get in touch.

freeletics training outside leg lever
Freeletics training outside leg levers

Is the Moto 360 nearing its product cycle end?

I hope that this is not the end of the Moto 360. It feels like we have just gotten started and are starting to get to know each other a little better. New technology is like a new girl friend, you have to get to know her to really appreciate her. I have really come to love my Moto 360, but I don’t know what is in the pipeline for it. Motorola has started lowering the prices in the USA to something along the lines of 149-179$ per smart watch.

… It takes time to appreciate what you’ve got

I personally find that far too cheap for such a great piece of technology. I mean, just look at Apple, currently the biggest and arguably richest company on the planet. They manage to being out a new smart watch, which does nothing more or better than the Moto 360 which is almost a year old already, and they charge on average around 450-600$ for one. It feels a bit like ‘we’ have already given up. The apple watch is there now, so why bother trying to show the world that this is a great piece of technology?

I surely hope they know what they are doing, and if there is a Moto 360 II up and coming soon, I will be one of the first ones in line. On he brighter side of things, I hope many new users will be attracted to the moto 360 due to the decrease in price in the last few weeks. As you know the Moto 360 is more than just a small phone on your wrist that makes your life a lot easier with a few notifications, it has paved the way to a far more beautiful wearable movement.

Improvements and Android Wear updates

Why do I think Motorola will continue to invest in its flagship watch: Mainly, the software is getting better by the week, the battery lifetime has gone up dramatically due to a few fantastic Android Wear updates, and Android Wear is live and kicking. The new 5.1.1. Version is on its way to all Motorola smart watches as well as the LG urbane, Samsung gear live and Sony SmartWatch 3 already and will be deployed on all devices in the next few days. This continued positive flow and investment by Google and Motorola shows that they are serious about keeping the Moto 360 around for quite a bit longer.

Incremental improvements show that there is nothing really wrong with the Motorola 360 smartwatch, but that with a few tweaks and tricks – it could be even better and meet user expectations even more. One idea would be to open up the market for the Moto360 to Apple users as well. Google would need to get the support from Apple for this though. It is probably technically not all that difficult to hook up the iOS iPhones with Android Wear (as a few people have shown already), but it is more the question of whether Apple would be open to featuring an Android Wear app in their app store and thereby making it available to the masses.

Apple have just started promoting their own Apple Watch and it seems highly unlikely to me that they would be willing to jeopardise their new future product and market over that. In all fairness though, the Moto 360 looks significantly better than the squared Apple Watch. I get asked time and time again by Apple Fanboys (and girls) if the beautiful watch that I have on my wrist is “the” Apple Watch. Surely they would not mind wearing a Moto 360 if it were compatible with their iPhones. 

With the Android 5.1.1 update there is a lot to look forward to. I think this product category has just gotten started and we are in for a very exciting ride when it comes to wearables in the next few years.

Moto 360 2nd generation 2015 what to expect

The last few weeks speculations have been going around about the new and upcoming Moto 360 (2015). A second edition of Motorolas best selling smartwatch would not be very surprising as the first version of the Moto 360 has been a great success. The round Motorola smartwatch was the first smartwatch that could live up to the expectations of being both stylish and smart. Rumour has it that the second Moto 360 generation will still be brought out by Motorola this year and could be presented to the general public within the coming few weeks. The first “pictures” of the new smartwatch have already started circulating on the web.

The round Motorola smartwatch was the first to be both stylish and truly smart

After about 6 months of wearing the first version of the Moto 360, there are a number of things that I would love to see in the next version. Let me walk you through the changes that I would love to see in the next Moto 360, for the sake of simplicity I will just call it the Moto 360 II (2015 edition).

Specifications of the Moto 360 II (2015 edition)

There are a few things that I would love to have in a smartphone. One thing that I find that is missing is an ever so small speaker. The fact that the Moto 360 I (2014 edition) is a pure one-way piece of equipment annoys me from time to time. What I do not really like all that much about the smartwatch that I currently have is that I cannot answer the phone with it. Yes I know, that is what a phone is for, but everytime someone calls me – my watch starts vibrating and asks me if I would like to answer or not – I swipe from right to left to answer the call and then remember that the watch does not have a speaker function and I have to get my smartphone out. I just cannot get used to that.

I would really love to have a small speaker in the Moto 360 II

Next to that, I use my Moto 360 together with Google Maps for directions. It is very easy to set up and ask for directions by simply asking my watch: “Okay Google, navigate me to the central station” and off we go. Now, every time there is a turn up ahead or I pass a crossing I notice that I look at my watch and hope for it to magically tell me what to do. Yes it does vibrate when I am supposed turn right or left, but that is simply not the same (as good) as getting the directions from a simple voice command.

Stronger and more standalone apps are also at the top of the list. This is surely something that is also strongly dependent on Google and Co. but it would be great to have a Google Maps app on  my watch without needing to use the phone itself. A small map of the surroundings (top-view) and the possibility to pinch and zoom would be fantastic. I would then not have to get my phone out anymore and the smaller screen would surely suffice for that.

I would also love it a lot if the new version of the Moto 360 (should we call it II or 2015?), would be waterproof. Every time it rains, I think twice about wearing it. I know that that is not logical and the watch will surely not break due to a few splashes of water, but as it is a timepiece with quite a bit of electronics in it – I always think twice about putting on my smartwatch when it is raining cats and dogs.

Let’s hope the next version will be even better than the next one. Which features would you like to see in the next Moto 360 (2015 version) release? Is there something that you feel is missing or wrong with the current Motorola flagship smart watch?

Note: Header images from Android Central