With headliners like Draymond Green, Dolly Parton and other celebrities, the new feature will launch with four 25- to 40-minute episodes.
Apple aims to encourage Apple Watch owners to use their device for regular exercise, like a short stroll. Apple began fleshing out its newly launched Fitness+ subscription by allowing users to access celebrity-driven audio content.
The new feature, titled ‘Time to Walk’, allows users to download episodes on a weekly basis. They range from 25 to 40 minutes each and can be listened to through the paired Bluetooth headphones.
The episodes feature athletes, musicians amongst other celebrities sharing their personal stories. Apple says that these sessions range from thought-provoking to motivational. Each episode contains narrative followed by a small playlist of songs relevant to the theme. The Apple Watch screen will also show a photo slide show throughout the episode.
Users first heard about the new feature when a Twitter user noticed new menu settings referring to a walking feature. Another user located beta source code that suggested the audio guided workouts would be coming with the pending software update.
The announcement notes that ‘Time to Walk’ will be launching with four brand new episodes starring NBA player Draymond Green, actress Uzo Aduba, and musicians Dolly Parton and Shawn Mendes. Apple expects to be adding new episodes on an ongoing basis until 30th April.
The episodes will be available to Fitness+ subscribers and they can be accessed via the Apple Watch’s Workout app. The company have also created a ‘Time to Push’ feature that will be available for device owners who use a wheelchair.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
As a competitor to Fitbit Premium, Peloton and other device-driven exercise programs, Apple’s announcement of Fitness+ back in September made clear that the integration between the Apple Watch and other Apple products was a huge selling point for the service. Apple also added fuel to their fitness offering by promising custom fitness content, the focus being on celebrity-led workout videos.
This selling point strategy is clearly executed with Time to Walk. Subscribers are able to download weekly sessions automatically, as they are delivered straight to the app. The sessions are then delivered via a combination of the tethered Bluetooth headphones (such as Apple’s AirPods) and the Watch’s screen. By having celebrity guests headlining each weekly session, Apple moves to differentiate its Fitness+ workout content from its competitors.
The timing of the feature launch couldn’t be better for Apple. As the COVID-19 pandemic is approaching the one-year mark, many customers will be looking for more fitness and wellness products to address their needs.
Jay Blahnik, Senior Director of fitness technologies at Apple, said in a blog post announcing the feature. “Walking is the most popular physical activity in the world, and one of the healthiest things we can do for our bodies. A walk can often be more than just exercise: It can help clear the mind, solve a problem, or welcome a new perspective. Even throughout this challenging period of time, one activity that has remained available to many is walking.”
THE BIGGER TREND
The fitness tech market has been a huge focus for Apple and other tech companies both before and after COVID-19. Peloton has consistently increasing record numbers within its quarterly reports, and ICON (the tech co behind Freemotion and NordicTrack, amongst others) generated $200 million in October 2020. Investors are increasing their interest in the connected workspace during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Tempo recently raising $60 million, Tonal raising $110 million and Hydrow raising $25 million.
In the case of M&A, Under Armour sold its MyFitnessPal digital platform for $345 million to an investment company. The move, it said, would clear the path for MapMyFitness, another platform the company own. Meanwhile, Lululemon purchased connected startup, Mirror, for half a billion dollars.