iOS 8 Health Apple Watch incosistent readings

Since the release of Watch OS 1.0.1, users have reported that the frequency of heart rate measurements was less consistent than before the update, but in a support document updated today, Apple notes that it is an intended feature, rather than a bug.

The support document, first spotted by 9to5mac, notes that “Apple Watch attempts to measure your heart rate every 10 minutes, but won’t record it when you’re in motion or your arm is moving,” essentially saying that the lack or heart rate recordings for extended periods of time is an intentional feature of the device.

Prior to the software update, Apple Watch would check heart rate every 10 minutes or so, depicting a consistent picture of a user’s vital throughout the day.

We’re not sure what the reason behind this change is. Some attribute it to the fact that Apple wants to be even more conservative on power management, but heart rate measurements at 10 minutes intervals had a negligible impact on battery life to begin with.

Besides, the fact that Apple Watch won’t check your heart rate when you’re in motion or when your arm is moving seems to be counter intuitive. Isn’t the goal to measure your heart rate when you’re actually moving? If Apple Watch is going to frequently check my heart rate when I’m sitting on the couch watching TV, I’m not certain it will be providing meaningful data about my health. (update: iDB reader Adam shares interesting info about that in the comments below)

Of course, when using the Workout app to track physical activity, Apple Watch will still check your heart rate every five seconds or so, effectively providing a consistent measurement. You just won’t get anywhere near the same consistency throughout your day when you’re not actively tracking your activity.

  • Adam Burrell

    The goal is to measure your resting heart rate throughout the day. That gives you a better picture into your cardiovascular health. You would only want measurement in motion while exercising to get an accurate calorie burn rate.

    • Good insight. Still, why not take a measurement of my heart rate at regular interval so that I have a better picture at the end of the day. I might go for a walk and not track this in the Workout app, yet I’d still be interested in getting heart rate data for that walk.

      • Since different workouts and movements require different amounts of energy your heart rate will diff too much. The only way to have a consistent and accurate measure of your hr is to do I while resting because it should always be about the same. Can compare your heart rate one day while talking to the next day when you were eating dinner. They’ll be different and incomparable.

      • gittlopctbi

        I think this is a good illustration of relying completely on technology to fully automate life when, if it is that much of a concern to monitor, it would take very little work to just take a manual measurement. Doesn’t the watch have a way to take a manual measurement and record that in a database? If so, problem solved. Well, except for the problem of wanting every detail of one’s life to be automated by some technological doo hickey.

      • WvB22

        But if you want to go for a walk because you’ve noticed you haven’t moved enough, what your actually doing is a bit of exercise. I guess, but thats just a guess, that the movement ring doesn’t rely on heart rate data but just on distance covered. Although it’s interesting to see how the move ring is getting it’s data because the ring is measured in calories, which kind of suggests the watch needs heart rate data to make an estimated guess how much calories you’ve burned. You als could start a “walk” in the workout app but I think it will then be counted against your exercise ring.

    • gittlopctbi

      Well, if one is really interested and concerned about his heart at rest, then he should go through the trouble and take the measurement himself when he is at rest. But yes, I know, that would just be too much work.

    • WvB22

      Exactly. At first I thought it was just another move to save battery but actually it’s not. This is how it should have worked from the beginning! You only want to measure heart rate in rest as it’s the only data you can compare side to side equally. So only when in rest you should measure your heart rate to get a generally idea about your cardiovascular fitness.

      But if you’re exercising you’ll want to know your heart rate all the time. That’s exactly what Apple Watch does, but you’ll have to start the work out app. But that’s quite logical as the watch can’t guess what kind of exercise you’re doing.

      So this makes sense after all.

    • Shams

      Absolutely make logical sense.

  • Carlos Gomes

    “… when your arm is moving” ^^.
    Sneaky bastards.

    • Ali G

      Hahaha XD

  • M2

    This seems like you’re holding it wrong argument. So if this isn’t a bug, was it a bug before the update? Apple should be explaining this better. We can all speculate but Apple should detail why the change and explain in detail.

    • Kr00

      Its actually incorrect to take a comparative heart rate whilst on the move, unless you want a specific heart rate during exercise, which the exercise app does anyway. No doctor or health professional will take your heart rate unless you’ve been resting. It skews your reading and distorts the data of what your heart rate actually is over time. Apple obviously changed the mode of monitoring the resting heart rate to mirror the medical standard. It wasn’t a bug before the update, merely an oversight. The only bug is in your head.

      • M2

        Bug=oversight. I’m not saying you’re wrong or Apple is wrong, I just want a better explanation from Apple. Relax.

      • mp

        Your point on an explanation is valid, simply advising ‘bug fixes’ is very ordinary.

      • Kr00

        No. A bug is a bad string of code in software. An oversight is the lack of attention to detail. Is it critical to the function of the watch? No. Can you get minute by minute heart rate monitoring using the workout app? Yes. Get over it.

  • John

    Interesting conversation with Apple support.

    They acknowledged a problem with my Watch and am sending me a replacement.

  • Yunsar

    It says “lack or heart rate recordings” in the second paragraph. I think you meant “lack of heart rate”

  • pnh

    I call B.S. on this one. It’s purely a move to save battery life. I have never met a person who buys a heart rate chest strap to sit on the couch and measure their pulse resting. I should be able to get more frequent data points even if I don’t use their workout app and they knew that, too, in version 1.0.

  • SoylentGreen

    Handy if you are obese, and sit about all day, novelty worn off( no pun intended lol) yet, or any buyers regret? I’ll stick with my tattoos as wristwear.

  • Simon Edwardes

    So, just an update on this as a developer. I too found with WatchOS 1.0.1 that my heart rate was not being measured for sometimes up to 9 hours of a day which is ridiculous. I am also developing a heart rate app at the moment to view graphs of resting heart rates etc and found this to trash my trends! HOWEVER, I am pleased to report that with the latest WatchOS 2 beta 5 released last week, I am finding my watch is measuring a lot more often. It’s seems to be every 10 minutes most of the time. For the times when it isn’t I think two things have happened. They’ve done increased the ‘your moving’ threshold to prevent a recording and they have also (I think) got the watch to try again each minute after a failed attempt rather that waiting the full 10 minutes. I am seeing better battery life with this watchOS than 1.0.1 too so hopefully everything is on track! I hope this is the news u all wanted to hear. Incidentally, if any of you are interested, I plan at the end of this month to run a test flight beta of my app which displays all this data in graphs, it’s a free way for you to test it it you want. If your interested then let me know!