- Apple Watch has had GPS tracking since Series 2
- Older Watch models still use GPS the same way as before
- GPS tracking helps improve and maintain data on outdoor workouts
Apple Watch now uses its GPS differently in order to improve location tracking for workouts, with the changes already live for the company’s three latest Watch models. As per a new support article published by Apple, the three newest models in the lineup will now be able to use their own inbuilt GPS tracking, even if the paired iPhone is nearby. This will reportedly improve the accuracy of the tracking, since the wrist-worn smartwatch can presumably receive a better GPS signal than an iPhone that might be in your pocket or on an armband.
The support article published by Apple (and reported on by 9to5Mac) covers ways to calibrate your Apple Watch for improved workout and activity accuracy. It mentions that the Apple Watch Ultra, Watch Series 8, and Watch SE 2 can now use the inbuilt GPS on the smartwatches themselves even if the paired iPhone is nearby, for improved location tracking on workouts – specifically Outdoor Walk or Outdoor Run wokouts which heavily rely on GPS for distance measurement and mapping.
Till recently, all GPS-enabled Apple Watch models would take GPS data from the iPhone when nearby, in order to optimise and conserve battery. This is still the case for older Apple Watch models that have GPS functionality, since the changes only apply to the three latest models in Apple’s popular smartwatch lineup.
Of course, all Apple Watch models from Series 2 onwards have inbuilt GPS capabilities, and will rely on this if the Apple Watch and iPhone are separated during a workout where location tracking is needed.
The Apple Watch Ultra has a considerably more capable battery, so allowing it to use its inbuilt features more liberally will make sense. If you intend to use this feature on the Apple Watch Series 8 or Watch SE 2, you’ll need to be a bit careful about battery usage during outdoor workouts, since GPS tends to use a lot of power.
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