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Apple’s Activity Competitions are a great way for Apple Watch users to motivate each other to stay active — if you ignore the fact that they’re a bit unfair.
To understand how Activity Competitions are “rigged,” you need to know how they work and how Apple rewards points based on activity levels. So let’s get into it.
Apple Watch users can share their activity with friends and family members. As we mentioned, that’s a great way to stay accountable and motivate each other.
Users can also add to that motivation with Activity Competitions, which are seven-day challenges that pit Apple Watch users head-to-head to see who can get the most points.
Per Apple’s support document on the matter, each user in a competition gets one point for every percent that they add to their rings every day.
Users can earn up to 600 points a day, or 4,200 by the end of the week if they close all of their rings every day, plus more activity on top of that.
That’s pretty simple. But how Apple calculates those points may be discouraging for some users. Let’s explain.
Why the Point System Is Unfair
For Stand and Exercise hours, the math is pretty simple to calculate.
One Stand hour is worth 8.33 points and one Exercise minute is worth 3.33 points. Whoever stands or works out longer will get more points.
But the point system for the Move goal doesn’t work like that, because users can set their own Move goals. And one percent equals one point no matter what that goal is.
If someone’s Move goal is 1,000 Active Calories, they’ll get 100 points for burning those in a day. But if their Move goal is 500 Active Calories, they’ll still earn 100 points — for doing half the amount of work.
In one way, this sort of makes sense. The score is based on a person’s individual fitness goals and ability. It allows for competition while allowing people to conquer their own goals instead of someone else’s.
But for the competitive among us, the system is obviously biased toward users with lower Move goals. And there’s no way to change it other than denying Competition requests from anyone with a lower Move goal than yourself.
How Apple Could Fix This
If two or more Apple Watch users are serious about their Activity competitions, a workaround is to simply agree to set their individual Move goals to the same calorie number.
But there should really be the option to tailor the point system to have one point equal one calorie. It doesn’t seem like too much of a chore for Apple to add, either.
Users could just choose whether they want to have a competition based on calories or percentages before they start it. That way, users can tailor their Activity Competitions to their specific goals.
Whether or not Apple will add some type of option for that is unclear. But if it sounds like a good idea to you, you can always leave feedback on Apple’s website.