Rumor has it that the next Apple Watch will include a GPS chipset. Assumedly, this would allow apps like Map My Run, Strava and others to track walks, runs and bike rides without relying on the iPhone for location data. With Apple Watch 2, people could just go for a run and have complete stats about it afterwards, all with their iPhone safe and sound back home on the kitchen table.
I do a fair amount of bike riding, on and off of paved streets. I use my Apple Watch to keep tabs on things like speed or distance mid-ride without needing to dig my iPhone out of the back pocket of my jersey.
Having the Watch on bike rides is great, but I always keep my iPhone with me in case of emergency. If I or someone I’m with are in an accident, someone needs to be able to call 911. If I get lost, I need Maps. If I’m out later than I expected, my wife wants to see where I am via Find my Friends.
GPS on the Apple Watch doesn’t solve any of these use cases, but cellular data would. According to Mark Gurman, that’s not in the cards quite yet:
Apple Inc. has hit roadblocks in making major changes that would connect its Watch to cellular networks and make it less dependent on the iPhone, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The company still plans to announce new watch models this fall boasting improvements to health tracking.
Assuming it doesn’t cost me another $30/month for service, I’d be very interested in having my Watch be able to talk to a cellular network when I go out for a ride. Until then, my iPhone will be tucked in my back pocket.