This lack of depth in behavioral research shows in the Watch’s reward design. It’s not just that the Watch doesn’t take into account the recent stuff — the old stuff Skinner produced isn’t reflected, either — but Apple hasn’t participated in the kinds of verification studies that might give someone confidence in their approach to fitness. As long as Apple isn’t making a specific health claim, it doesn’t have to verify its device is accurate with the FDA. Only a few studies exist on fitness trackers’ accuracy, Patel says, which makes it challenging for both patients and doctors to trust a smartwatch’s data. And the rewards aren’t set up in the ways we know are most effective. The Watch is ultimately a weak tool. It might be effective for some people, but there’s a lot of behavioral research out there that suggests it could be much more effective for many more people.
This is an interesting point. The Apple Watch is not in any way “scientific;” it’s based on some simple ideas that won’t confuse people, and that are easy to put into practice. And that can be easily displayed.
Look at the three activity rings. Tim Cook famously said, “Sitting is the new cancer,” which, among the verbal mistakes he has made ranks pretty high on the list. He could have said “Sitting is the new smoking,” which would have made sense; an activity has effects that can then translate into disease. But claiming that sitting was, in and of itself, a disease, is truly foolish.
So there’s the stand ring. You have to get up and move around for a minute or so each hour to make it progress. It’s not that hard. But, if you’re in a wheelchair, or otherwise disabled, you can’t remove the stand ring. You can turn off stand reminders, but that’s all.
The activity ring? It’s set to 30 minutes; no more, no less. For some, 30 minutes might be a lot; for others, it’s hardly anything. It should be adjustable, as the move ring (the one that represents calories).
Of course, you’ll notice, as did the author of this article, that the move ring will count calories even when you’re not moving, not doing any activity. I notice that, when I lie in bed reading in the evening, or watch something on TV, it increments even if I’m not moving.
And these goals aren’t even logical over time.