Peloton clarifies the Apple Watch GymKit mess

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Okay. Peloton sells a very famous stationary bicycle with streaming workouts, an app, and a whole fitness lifestyle situation.

Apple sells a very famous smartwatch with heart rate tracking, apps, and the ability to sync with fitness equipment over a proprietary Apple system called GymKit.

The basic Peloton bike costs $1,895 and does not work with GymKit; the fancier Bike Plus, which works with GymKit, costs $2,495.

A lot of people bought the more expensive bike to use it with their Apple Watches over GymKit! And yesterday all those people were dismayed to learn that Peloton had disabled Apple Watch integration for “bike bootcamp” classes, which combine cycling with strength training. (The integration still works just fine with regular old cycling, but you understand, again, that Peloton is an entire fitness lifestyle situation.)

Peloton’s statement yesterday firmly pinned the blame for this on Apple, with a spokesperson telling The Verge that “Peloton is committed to bringing the GymKit integration to all workouts and disciplines within Apple’s terms of service.” (emphasis ours).

This predictably led to a lot of confusion. Since Apple’s terms of service for GymKit are not public, it was not clear what terms Peloton had violated, and, in general, “using your expensive smartwatch to sync your heart rate to your expensive stationary bike” is not the sort of thing that should require contract negotiations between huge companies. And obviously Apple runs Apple Fitness Plus, which is a direct competitor to Peloton, and does not suffer from any corporate politics-based heart rate tracking issues. (And, of course, Peloton just bought Atlas, which is… a smartwatch company.)

Anyhow, irritating the huge group of wealthy people who own both an Apple Watch and a Peloton Bike Plus is a bad idea, so Peloton has a new statement today clarifying what’s going on. Here it is:

Apple GymKit is designed to work with equipment-based cardio workouts. However, Peloton recently implemented GymKit with Bike Bootcamp, a multi-disciplinary class type that combines strength and cardio, which the feature does not support. Members can still use GymKit to sync their cycling-only workouts to their Apple Watch from the Bike+.

So basically, the Apple Watch does not support switching from biking to lifting weights all in one workout. Fair enough. That said, if people want to use their Apple Watch in goofy off-label ways, it’s weird that Apple is stopping them in this way, no? And certainly adding a “bike bootcamp” workout mode to the Apple Watch fitness app would be relatively easy for Apple, the company that makes the Apple Watch.

In conclusion, Apple retains iron-fisted control over its devices and the things that connect to them through its secret accessory contracts, and if anyone would like to send me those contracts, our Securedrop is working again.

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