So we’ve probably all worked out that I’m quite opinionated by now! I like to think that I’m just saying what we’re all thinking 🙂
Today we’ll talk about “sports profiles”. Now, to me, a sports profile, app, whatever you want to call it consists of a specific mode on a device for handling a given sport. Now don’t get me wrong, some of them are basically the same. Take running and cycling for example. These use speed and distance and sometimes cadence and power. The difference between them is often as little as changing speed (miles per hour) out for pace (minutes per mile). They also add the right labels so you can tell one from the other after upload and keep them separate.
Then we have swimming. Swimming is different, and needs to be treated differently. Garmin are a great example of this with their rest timer, repeat timer, and easy to read screen inversion which shows when you’re resting. This is a great example of a specialised sport profile.
Then we have the others. Sometimes hundreds of others, all different in name only. Polar even brags about how many sport profiles they have. Don’t fall for this marketing, all they did was think up 130 names of sports. This is not a feature. I could quite easily have typed those names myself.
In anticipation of an upcoming holiday I added windsurfing. This profile is identical to running. Identical. I was hoping for the ability to auto-lap my tacks/gybes so that I could track distance or speed in a useful way. When I’m windsurfing I don’t really have time to create laps manually as I’m a little busy. The watch can track changes in heading so this would be easy enough to implement and would then genuinely be a different sport profile/app. Same for surfing, I should be able to track my progress on the way out and the way in automatically. Paddling looks very different to surfing for a watch with this many sensors. Even wakeboarding, I ought to be able to identify some tricks based on movement (not necessarily the tricks I can do!).
I’ve picked on Polar here, but I think it’s a problem on most platforms with vendors renaming a generic profile and calling it done. We should demand more from these devices and companies, or at the very least call them out when the marketing people “add features” that engineering didn’t put time into.
I’d be interested in your thoughts below as usual.