WWDC 2024 should kick off a new AI fitness war between Apple, Samsung, and Google

Apple WWDC 2024 logo
(Image credit: Apple)
Sunday Runday

Lloyd, the Android Central mascot, break-dancing

(Image credit: Android Central)

In this weekly column, Android Central Wearables Editor Michael Hicks talks about the world of wearables, apps, and fitness tech related to running and health, in his quest to get faster and more fit.

WWDC 2024 starts tomorrow, June 10, and iPhones are about to get inundated with Apple Intelligence (AI, get it?), according to a major leak. Given Google and Samsung's pivot to AI, it's an unsurprising shift for the brand. Personally, I'm less interested in the industry's AI shift and more intrigued by what Apple Intelligence could mean for Apple Fitness.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who leaked the laundry list of AI features coming to WWDC 2024, promises that Apple will announce "major" changes to the Fitness app, along with Health changes like "improved blood pressure data management" and "cycle tracking."

He doesn't specify what major AI changes Fitness will receive, but I'm looking at Samsung's recent Galaxy AI fitness announcement for clues. The South Korean company promised a daily Energy Score, AI Wellness Tips for losing weight and other life goals, and personalized workout routines to the Galaxy Watch 7.

Why bring this up? Because I suddenly find Samsung's timing suspicious. Why reveal this in May when the new Galaxy Watch won't ship until August? Maybe Samsung guessed that Apple would announce similar AI fitness tricks at WWDC 2024 and wanted to be the "first" to reveal them.

Apple engineer Craig Federighi running in a WWDC 2022 livestream

(Image credit: Apple)

My guess is that Apple Fitness will add its own "daily readiness" score, following in the footsteps of Fitbit, Garmin, Oura, and other brands. It has all the data necessary, from sleep stages and resting HR to stress and activity tracking. It simply needs a sufficient algorithm to interpret that data properly.

Apple Fitness Plus already offers some of the best guided at-home workouts, but it's possible Siri could start pointing you to specific routines based on your fitness level, muscle map, and tiredness. Perhaps it could tell you whether you have the strength to complete a second routine, based on your heart rate data during the first routine.

My personal hope is that Apple Intelligence will be able to suggest daily running or cycling workouts by time, length, and pace, based on your VO2 Max — just as Garmin watches can. For instance, it could recommend a harder pace when you're well-rested, then a light jog the following day.

Or, Apple could take more of a Fitbit-esque approach, recommending you hit a certain amount of Active Zone Minutes per day based on your energy level. Apple could make its daily rings more dynamic, adjusting your movement and stand goals as necessary so you're improving but not overtraining. 

A hiking activity on the Apple Watch Ultra 2

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

I've worn the Apple Watch Ultra 2 for months on and off, and have been quite satisfied with its accuracy for GPS, steps, elevation, and other tests I've conducted. Samsung promised that its Galaxy AI pivot would deliver "enhanced health algorithms" for "greater precision and accuracy," so it's possible Apple could improve even further. 

But accurate data during a workout isn't enough. Apple and Samsung need to show they can understand and process that data to build a personal profile and guide you down the right path. Fitness watch brands like Garmin, COROS, and Polar have built their brands and loyal followings off their ability to coach you based on your abilities instead of assigning a generic 30-minute workout ring to close.

"Today's suggestion: Liberate your muscles" screen on the Polar Vantage V3.

Workout suggestions on a Polar watch based on your fitness and fatigue (Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Apple probably intends to make its AI a fitness coach, just as Samsung does. And it's an exciting development! I've been waiting for more mainstream smartwatches to try their hands at coaching. The question will be whether either brand can pull it off and give proper advice to both couch-to-5Kers and proper athletes.

The Pixel Watch 2 is the rare mainstream watch to have coaching, thanks to Google's Fitbit acquisition, but the most recent Fitbit updates have focused on new health sensors. We haven't seen many updates to Fitbit's coaching in years. The Galaxy Watch 7 and Apple Watch X entering the fray would challenge Google to innovate, and give consumers more options for at-home coaching.

Or perhaps I'm misreading what "major" Apple Fitness changes are coming, and we won't get any Apple Intelligence updates. We'll find out at WWDC 2024 tomorrow if Apple is evolving or falling behind the pack.

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, VR/AR and fitness

Michael is Android Central's resident expert on fitness tech and wearables, with an enthusiast's love of VR tech on the side. After years freelancing for Techradar, Wareable, Windows Central, Digital Trends, and other sites on a variety of tech topics, AC has given him the chance to really dive into the topics he's passionate about. He's also a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves D&D, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

For wearables, Michael has tested dozens of smartwatches from Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, COROS, Polar, Amazfit, and other brands, and will always focus on recommending the best product over the best brand. He's also completed marathons like NYC, SF, Marine Corps, Big Sur, and California International — though he's still trying to break that 4-hour barrier.