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:
– 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!
Wonder if they’ll be adding this functionality for velodromes?
or swimming pools (pool length)
For pools it would be extremely cool as those are known (usually from a pool’s website) and stay constant. I’m sick of coming to a pool and asking “Is this a 20-meter or 25-meter pool?”
Extracting it from OpenStreetMap is probably a feasible mechanism.
Although swim distance does very since some pools move the dividers/change directions. One of the pools I swim at alternates seasonally between 100m and 25y. Occasionally they swim the long direction but set the divider at 25m.
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?
Is there any way to see the l list of tracks? Or to get the watch to navigate to the nearest one?
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.
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?
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.
Not sure about going backwards, but yes you can change lanes mid run on the watch.
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