Strava and Apple Watch 2. Bizarrely unsupported.

Apple Watch 2 ignored by Strava

Normally, I don’t use Twisted Spoke as an outlet for bitterness and frustration. There’s an exception to every rule.

Case in point, Strava’s bizarre inability to work with the Apple Watch 2 for something as basic as pulling your heart rate from said watch and making that data part of the recording file of your ride using Strava on an iPhone 6.

Apparently, it was possible on the first gen Apple Watch but now on version 2, it’s impossible. This strikes me as unacceptable on several levels, three of which I will detail here.

First, there’s been plenty of angry and irritated Apple Watch 2 owners complaining about the issue on the Strava website. Just to pick one forum comment from a guy named Mark: “So it did work, but now it doesn’t, and apparently now it’s ‘too difficult’? The more I use Strava, the more I realize what a half job they seem to do with everything. How important is HR data to people who train and from a safety point too? Whether Strava like it or not, Apple Watch is now the number 1 Watch in the world, so its not like there’s only a handful of people are using it? It’s a widely used piece of kit and it’s not a lot to ask for it’s support to be added.”

I could not agree more. Nice summation, Mark.

Now, here’s the official response from Strava and someone named Elle Andersen: “From what I’ve heard from our engineering team this is not easy to do based on how the Apple Watch is designed. Meaning, it is more difficult than expected to simply connect the Apple Watch to the phone app like any other biometric sensor to record heart rate. Note that the previous Strava app that tethered to the phone worked very differently to record heart rate and GPS in one recording, so it’s not possible to simply use some old code.”

Well, that’s not a very good answer from a tech company with tons of engineers on the subject of compatibility with the number one selling watch in the world — to quote Mark. Ohh, it’s just too hard now? Sure, I can understand that the Apple Watch 2 records heart rate in a different way now. But note her response is dated April 27th. This means that basically five months later there is no solution in sight. FIVE MONTHS.

Why, Strava, why?

Now, that’s pathetic. And let me just say that I think Strava is cool and awesome and highly innovative. However, that brings me to my second point, which, honestly, I find galling. There’s a brand new app called Fitness AR that works with data collected from Strava and then interfaces with Apple’s new ARKit to create “augmented reality maps that display running, cycling, and hiking routes on a 3D image.”

The irony is that somebody else is clearly capable of working out new interfaces between Apple and Strava. Yet Strava cannot, even after five months, pull a simple heart rate from the Apple Watch 2 when the Apple Watch 3 is already out. As a friend of mine used to say “No Bueno.”

The final irritating and unacceptable part of this story (and rant) is the last sentence in Strava’s response via Elle Andersen: “However, we are working hard to consider this request and research the potential options.” Wow, so it’s a request, like we’re a sad, marginal group of people that have to beg for basic functionality.

Here are a few stats that you would think would motivate Strava. Apple’s share of the global smartwatch market is over 40% (updated 10/16), projected number of Apple Watches to be sold in 2020: 31 million. Percentage of Apple Watch users that say they use their watch for heath and fitness, 79%. So yeah, that’s a fair amount of people making a “request.”

Strava likes to say “If it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen.” Clearly, as far as Strava is concerned, the Apple Watch 2 never happened.

Strava support page on Apple Watch 2


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