Apple Watch and Runkeeper relationship status: It’s complicated

How well does Runkeeper work with the Apple Watch

Let me tell you a story, and you decide. 

It’s 60 degrees and sunny outside. You’ve driven to your favorite lake trails to run. You’ve wrapped up your warm up walk and stretch. You're ready to launch. You fire up your Apple Watch, open up Runkeeper, and glance at your phone to make sure GPS is loaded. 

It’s not. The blue bar on your iPhone indicating that your GPS is engaged isn't there. Well, shit.  

You open Runkeeper from your phone. It opens momentarily, then closes. It does this several times. 

You restart your phone. No go. Same symptoms. 

You delete Runkeeper from your phone. Re-download it. Reinstall it. And reinstall it on your watch.  

It’s working now. Excellente! You click “Start,” the Runkeeper lady confirms you've started, and you’re off. 

About a mile in, you glance at your watch to check your pace. Runkeeper isn't displayed on your watch. While running, you get to the Apps screen on your watch, reopen Runkeeper, and it prompts you to start running. 

You consider throwing the watch into the lake.   

Have you lost a mile of data for your workout? In order to figure it out, you need to stop running and start problem solving. “Fuck that,” you say. You open up Apple’s Workout app on the watch, start a new run in a that app, and continue on, tracking a partial run on your watch and hoping the full run is captured on your phone.  

Sound like your ideal afternoon run? Nope. Sounds terrible. And it was. This is no hypothetical situation. It was my afternoon. And it's reflective of just about every goddamn time I try to run with Runkeeper using the Apple Watch. 

Let me be clear about two things. 

First, I love my Apple Watch. I love the design, convenience of accessing communications, and the general concepts of how it tracks and promotes fitness.  

Second, I love Runkeeper. It has been my go-to running app for quite some time. It’s accurate, and through the phone, generally reliable and easy to use. 

But I also love salmon. And I love cake. They sure as hell don't work well together though. Needless to say, neither do Runkeeper and the Apple Watch. Yet. 

The experience described above is not an unusual one for me. Numerous times the Runkeeper app has simply stopped working on the watch. Other times it’s recorded a long run (at least for me) at 0.0 distance. Occasionally it records the run accurately, but the entire run is missing in Apple Watch’s Activity app, thus making the calendar that shows the number of workouts I've completed inaccurate. Maybe it makes me slightly obsessive, but to make up for missing workouts, I've resorted starting the Activity app while lounging around the house to correct the calendar.   

To make matters worse, tracking runs without Runkeeper is even worse because Apple doesn’t seem to have its shit together either. When it comes to accurately logging the distance of runs, Apple misses the mark by a mile. Funny, huh? When you compare the data Apple collects on runs to more accurate apps, like Runkeeper ironically, Apple is simply never right. Running with the phone, without the phone, a calibrated phone, a non-calibrated phone, and a variety of other hacks that have supposedly helped some other users has intermittent success. Intermittent success is not exactly what you’re looking with data on running.   

Here is a rundown of the data from some recent runs: 

Date Miles (Apple) Miles (Runkeeper) Pace (Apple) Pace (Runkeeper) Calories (Apple - total) Calories (Runkeeper)
12/15/15 2.53 3.02 10'04" 8'29" 287 427
12/13/15 4.06 5.02 12'5" 9'48" 394 711
12/8/15 4.48 5.02 11'09" 9'58" 544 715
12/4/15 4.69 5.01 10'20" 9'41" 535 719
12/2/15 2.99 3.21 10'11" 9'30" 331 421
11/30/15 n/a 5.11 n/a 9'36" n/a 718
11/25/15 3.47 3.52 9'59" 9'54" 238 494
11/21/15 4.9 5.02 10'08" 9'51" 572 703
11/18/15 3.97 4.53 10'59" 9'40" 457 645
11/14/15 4.32 4.51 9'51" 9'27" 495 641

Runkeeper is accurate. You’ll just have to trust me on that. I’ve run the same trail around the same lake for many years with a variety of phones, apps, and devices. I have mental mile markers. As such, it’s easy to see how inaccurate and inconsistent Apple’s data is. 

So, Runkeeper isn't reliable on the watch and Apple reports erroneous data. 

That's presents a problem. 

I love many things about my Apple Watch. And I still love Runkeeper to track runs. I’m sure these two companies will figure out how to make their shit work congruently at some point. Until they do, though, tracking an inaccurate run on my watch to get “credit” for a workout while concurrently tracking an accurate run on phone to get the data I need is a complete asswhip. 

I just thought someone should know.