Depending on what you want from it, Apple Fitness+ is probably, narrowly the best – certainly the slickest – online fitness service there is. It integrates quite well with Apple Watch and Apple TV but it's not totally reliant on Apple's ecosystem, and it has a superb range of classes for everything from pilates to HIIT. It does seem to be missing something, however. Namely, the ability to pump, ride or run your ass off, and beat a load of slower people on a leaderboard.
Maybe that's not a very Apple aspiration and it's not essential for everyone, but sport is nothing if it doesn't have at least the option of competition. Apple seems to recognise that. It says, and I quote: 'Training with friends and family is a great way to stay motivated and accountable on your fitness journey.' Or, as I like to put it, 'Being faster and better than your friends and family – and complete strangers – is a great way to prove you are better than them.'
Proper online fitness pioneers – as opposed to Jonny-come-latelies such as Apple – have long recognised this. FIIT, Zwift, Strava, MyZone and even Peloton make competition a core plank of what they do.
Peloton also does some a bike and a treadmill – perhaps you've heard of them? – which takes the game to a whole other level. Why doesn't Apple do that?
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Apple just announced a load of upgrades to its iPhone, Watch and iPad ranges. It also had a lot to say about Apple Fitness+, even though it didn't even mention Arcade and it was understandably circumspect about Apple TV+, which is essentially Ted Lasso plus a load of other stuff.
Apple Fitness is the secret jewel in the crown of Apple's services. Here's our Apple Fitness+ review, which dates back to its original launch. It got 4 stars then as it was a little limited. With the extras Apple is rolling out this time around – group workouts, ski-focused workouts, pilates workouts, the option to go for a walk, guided by Dolly Parton, workout soundtracks by individual artists and some wellness bollocks – I reckon that will get upgraded to 5 stars any moment now.
However, what I'd really like to see is a bigger range of Apple Fitness+ compatible fitness equipment. At the moment there seems to be a couple of bikes by Schwinn and some Technogym treadmills. These don't really offer any very deep integration – the Technogym treads just allow easy collection of distance and speed data via your Apple Watch, as far as I can see.
- Apple Fitness+ pricing and availability, via Apple Newsroom
- Fitness+ is currently available in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and the US. It will be available later this year in Austria, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, and the UAE.
- Three months of Apple Fitness+ are included for customers who purchase Apple Watch Series 3 or later, and one month of Fitness+ is included for existing Apple Watch users.1
- Fitness+ is available as a subscription service for £9.99 per month or £79.99 per year.
- Fitness+ can be shared among up to six family members for the same price, making it easy for other Apple Watch users in the household to enjoy the service.
- Fitness+ is included in the Apple One Premier plan, which, where available, also gives customers access to Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, and 2TB of iCloud storage for £29.95 per month, and can be shared among up to six family members.
- Fitness+ requires an Apple Watch Series 3 or later with watchOS 7.2, and is available when paired with iPhone 6s or later with iOS 14.3.
- To get the newest features, use Fitness+ with Apple Watch Series 3 or later; with watchOS 8 paired with iPhone 6s or later with iOS 15; iPad with iPadOS 15; or Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD with tvOS 15.
It would make a lot of business sense for Apple to produce Peloton-style products of its own, or to take the easier route and buy Peloton. Maybe Peloton wouldn't want to be bought, I don't know. If I was setting up any kind of online fitness business with its own USP right now, it would be with a view to being bought by Apple but maybe that's just the mercenary kind of guy I am.
Apple obviously isn't going to make a car any time soon, but its own range of affordable premium home gym equipment could give it a foothold in a new market that involves 'transport'. Okay admittedly it's a virtual form of self-powered transport where you never actually get anywhere, but you've got to start somewhere, right?
If Apple didn't want to make its own fitness gear, the right partnership with a brand or brands that do could still work. iFit has done a great job of signing up hardware partners to its streamed fitness workouts. You just know Apple could do it even better.
Or it could just buy Peloton. Just look at how the brands align. Peloton has high-earning users with a cult-like devotion to the product. It could only benefit from Apple's know-how if it wants to get even bigger and avoid damaging pitfalls along the way. For an example of how this can work, look at Beats by Dr Dre. That brand already had a massive profile before it was acquired by Apple. Its products got noticeably better after that happened.
For Apple and for those who love Apple's way of doing things and want to live the Apple lifestyle, I doubt that buying a new phone every 2 years and a new iPad every decade is enough anymore. With fitness and wellness a post-pandemic obsession, an Apple-branded home gym would be the perfect stop-gap until the Apple Car, Apple Condo and Apple Space Tourism Starship arrive.
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