Apple Watch Running Track Mode Expands To More Countries

TrackMode

A quick post for today as Apple has expanded their Apple Watch running track mode to more countries. This mode will automatically detect the running track as you step onto the track, offering to enter/trigger track mode (assuming you’re in the workout app). Further, the mode automatically knows how many running lanes are at each track. The main point of using running track mode is that it gives exact distances and ‘snaps’ to the correct lane of the track. One of the most challenging things for GPS watches to get right is actually a running track, thus this mode brings accuracy from ‘hopefully good’ to ‘absolutely perfect’.  Seriously, it’s exacting down to the meter.

This mode was previously rolled out back in December 2022 to tracks in the United States (including territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, etc…). Apple’s running track mode depends on Apple Maps data combined with what is essentially a giant running track database. Whereas every other company instead detects the running track in real-time over the course of the first 1-2 laps (and then saves that for future usage). Both methods have their pros and cons.

In the case of Apple, it’s only available for those countries they’ve explicitly turned on, but it means that the second you step onto the track, it’s ready (no track calibration needed). Whereas for the other watch manufacturers, it works on any track on earth, regardless of a database. But, it does require 1-2 loops around the track before it saves it.

The point being, Apple has added a few more countries to the list, specifically:

– Australia
– Germany
– Canada
– Italy
– UK
– United States (previously there)

This new country expansion does not require any software update on your watch. If you’re in one of the new countries, you’ll see the track mode offered automatically to you once you arrive at a running track. If you’re traveling to a new area/country (sans-LTE), then anytime the watch is charged to more than 80% capacity, with your phone on WiFi, it’ll download all tracks within a 25KM radius. If you arrive at a track outside of that radius, and your watch is connected to your phone, and your phone has cellular, it’ll download on-demand (if you have a cellular watch, this will also download on demand). Finally, it also automatically downloads all tracks within a 100KM radius of your ‘Home’ and ‘Work’ locations.

In the event you have/find a running track that doesn’t exist in Apple’s database, there’s an option at the bottom of the Fitness app to go ahead and submit it, which routes to the Apple Maps team for them to work their magic. As with before, they recognize ‘standard shape tracks’, the actual distance doesn’t really matter, but it does have to be ones with permanent lane lines (as opposed to a dirt track with occasionally chalked lines).

I’ve got some travel this week, to dive into this a bit more, plus some new track and running features as well. With that – thanks for reading!

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18 Comments

  1. Nick Butcher

    Wonder if they’ll be adding this functionality for velodromes?

  2. martin

    If you arrive at a track outside of that radius, and your watch is connected to your phone, and your phone has cellular, it’ll download on-demand

    How will watch detect this? That you arrived at a track?

  3. Nathan B

    Is there any way to see the l list of tracks? Or to get the watch to navigate to the nearest one?

  4. Chris

    Great to see they have added Aus. Confirming this works at my local track in Collingwood, Melbourne. Tried getting it to work at Olympic Park, however, this is a custom track – hoping they add it soon. Thanks Ray for tip on how to submit feedback.

  5. Håvard

    I am one of those unfortunate Apple Watch owners that live in a small country (Norway).. We don’t even have Apple Fitness+ available here!

    I really hope Norwegians will be able to get this feature too, but I have my doubts! Do you have any idea if Norway is in Apple’s plans in the near future?

  6. Tim Grose

    Does it work like the Garmin implementation in that it still works going “backwards” to the normal anti clockwise direction which you may well do in say warm ups?

    What about if you change lanes for any significant time? Say you start in lane 1 doing an easy warm up when the track is quiet then figure need to get out of the way of runners actually doing their workout so move out to an outer lane? With Garmins you have tell it the lane in advance.

    • Chris

      Not sure about going backwards, but yes you can change lanes mid run on the watch.

    • StottyMC

      Here is a pic of a run where I started in lane 4 (I chose lane 4 when prompted) but I switched to lane 1 on my first lap. As you can see It adjusted and did so automatically

  7. Marc Weatherill

    I just tried the Automatic Track Detection for the first time. Running in Lane 1, my watch consistently recorded the lap length as 379 metres, even though I know this is a standard 400 metre track. Is there a way to confirm that Apple’s database is correct?

  8. Patrice

    Hi, thanks for the information.

    But I failed to see where I can report a missing track. Could you be more specific about where to do it? You mentioned the Apple fitness app but I can’t seem to see where to report it exactly.

    • Patrice

      Found it. You must complete a run to report the missing track.

    • Michael

      Just to make this even more explicit since I’m daft and had some trouble finding it —
      Open the track run from the activity history in Fitness on the phone
      Scroll to the map at the bottom and Show More
      In the full screen map view, tap the comment bubble with a ! in it
      Now you can choose whether it was a false negative (no track detected) or a false positive (received track alert on a non-track), though it would seem it should know this from the workout metadata

  9. SoCorsu

    Hi, with latest Beta Garmin is adding this
    link to forums.garmin.com

    Adds database of 400m running tracks all over the world.

  10. Patrick

    Just noticed this week that Belgium tracks also pop up!!-