Soon, you won’t need an Apple Watch to close your rings. Starting October 24th, anyone with an iPhone updated to iOS 16.1 can subscribe to Apple’s Fitness Plus service. Folks who buy a new iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV can also get a free three-month trial. But if you aren’t keen on buying a new gadget, Apple is also working with SilverSneakers, Target, UnitedHealthcare, and Mobile Health to help users sign up at no extra cost.
This move has been in the works for a while. Back at WWDC in June, Apple announced that iOS 16 would include the Fitness app for all iPhone owners. Then, at last month’s Far Out event, Apple clarified that also meant it was decoupling Fitness Plus from the Apple Watch as well. Previously, both the Fitness app and Fitness Plus required you to have an Apple Watch Series 3 or later. That made subscribing a pricey proposition, as you’d need to buy an iPhone, Apple Watch, and a $79.99 yearly subscription. (You could also opt for a $9.99 monthly subscription or get it with the Apple One Premier plan for $29.95 monthly.)
iPhone-only subscribers will have full access to Fitness Plus’ catalog of workouts, meditations, and programs. Of course, you will get a “better” experience if you do have an Apple Watch. The iPhone version of the Fitness app tracks your activity using the phone’s motion sensors, so you won’t see certain metrics like real-time heart rate pop up on your screen. Instead, you’ll see on-screen trainer guidance, interval timing, and estimated calories burned and still get credit toward closing your Move ring.
Content-wise, Apple is also adding a new Artist Spotlight series featuring Taylor Swift’s Midnights album, a new Yoga for Every Runner program, and more Time to Walk guests like Ted Lasso actor Hannah Waddingham and singer Meghan Trainor.
Decoupling Fitness Plus from the watch slots in with Apple’s pivot to services in recent years. Fitness Plus’ overall vibe is designed to be as welcoming as possible, making it ideal for beginner and intermediate levels. And as many folks can attest, closing your rings and maintaining streaks can become somewhat of an obsession. If iPhone users end up getting hooked on the service, there’s a greater chance they’ll pick up an Apple Watch to get the full experience. The smartwatch is already the most popular in the market, with roughly 30 percent of iPhone users owning one.
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