Apple Watch Activity Sharing is a great way to share your fitness progress with friends and stay motivated. The feature lets you easily share completed workouts, achievements, and more with your Apple Watch friends.
Activity Sharing has its limitations, however, and I’m hoping watchOS 5 and iOS 12 can address them with a few changes.
The first limitation is exactly how many people you’re able to add to Activity Sharing. I recently invited 9to5Mac Happy Hour listeners to connect with me through Activity Sharing as motivation, but I quickly discovered the feature has a hard rule of 40 connections.
That’s increased from 25 accounts originally, but both limits are not very useful for larger groups.
My guess is Apple caps the number of connections to prevent the Activity Sharing from becoming overwhelming for the user, but there are already controls to help manage alerts today. You can mute alerts from Activity Sharing on a person-by-person basis from the Activity app on the iPhone.
With muting already available, I wouldn’t be against connecting to a few hundred accounts to build a small, competitive community of Apple Watch users. The real shame is that I’m not able to do Activity Sharing with users who have zero connections on their end because I’ve hit the 40 user limit myself.
Limit aside, Activity Sharing could be smarter in the future. Today, alerts are grouped together intelligently and periodically so you aren’t spammed, but you can’t set which types of alerts you want to receive.
I’m personally motivated by completed workout alerts more than anything else and would opt out of alerts for closed activity rings and achievements if possible.
Activity Sharing could also support groups which currently don’t exist today. Ideally, I’d like to set up three groups, friends, family, and podcast. I can see others using a grouping feature for various teams and clubs as well.
The Activity app also includes a feature that lets you send a single group message to everyone you use Activity Sharing with, but the feature could use some polishing. I could really see this being beneficial for groups so you could message everyone or just select users.
Finally, I’d really love to see Activity Sharing mature into more of an open platform for competitions.
Apple currently relies on a third-party app called Challenges for its internal activity challenges. I haven’t used the app myself yet — it requires a paid subscription to set up a challenge — but at a glance it looks like exactly what I’d love to see from Apple directly.
The app is based around the three Activity rings and includes a concept of teams, specific target goals, and ranking. Activity Sharing is by design a very light weight version of Challenges, but I could see it evolving over time to be a more polished version.
Fingers crossed that Apple has plans for Activity Sharing in the future. The version that debuted with watchOS 3 and iOS 10 was a good start, but it’s a useful feature that could dramatically benefit from new features in future updates.