by Jason P., Director of Engineering at Shotzoom
In version 3.14 and 5.14 of Golfshot and Golfshot Plus we've added the ability to enable "Workout Mode" on Apple Watch Series 2 and 3. This allows for the Apple Watch to keep the GPS active even when Golfshot isn't on the screen - enabling quicker GPS updates when returning to Golfshot. The consequence to this gain is that the battery of the Apple Watch will drain quicker. This setting can be enabled/disabled using the setting "Watch GPS Always On" under the "GPS, Scoring, Caddie" setting. We should note that even with this setting enabled, the Apple Watch will still use the iPhone's GPS by default - only switching to this mode when the Apple Watch breaks connection with your iPhone.
Here's a deeper look into the hardware and operation of each Watch to understand it's current technical limits.
Apple Watch Series 1
The Apple Watch® Series 1 doesn't have an onboard GPS chip. This means it utilizes the iPhone as its sole location provider. Whatever the iPhone is seeing in terms of location is what the Apple Watch will see and use. Additionally, if you turn off your iPhone or break the connection no more GPS information will be sent or found on Apple Watch 1.
Apple Watch Series 2 or 3
The Apple Watch® Series 2 introduced an onboard GPS chip and Apple Watch Series 3 continues to have this hardware. This allows the Apple Watch 2 and 3 to provide GPS updates without having to be connected to the iPhone. For the sake of battery life, the Apple Watch Series 2 and 3 will utilize the iPhone's GPS when it’s connected and available. Once disconnected from the iPhone GPS, the Series 2 and 3 will utilize its own internal GPS until a connection to the iPhone is re-established.
So when using Golfshot or Golfshot Plus on the course this leaves you with 3 primary ways to play #yourbestgolf with Apple Watch:
Playing with your iPhone in your pocket
Series 1, 2 and 3 Apple Watch users will see the iPhone’s GPS being reported on the Apple Watch
Playing with your iPhone in your cart
Series 1, 2 and 3 Apple Watch users will see the iPhone’s GPS being displayed while the device is in range. This means if you move 5-10 yards away from the golf cart, you'll still be displaying the location of your iPhone in the golf cart.
If the connection to the device is severed, Series 1 users will get no further updates while Series 2 and 3 users will see the onboard GPS location until the connection to the iPhone is re-established.
Playing with your Apple Watch disconnected from your iPhone
Series 1 users will be able to see basic hole information and score on the Apple Watch but no GPS updates will be received.
Series 2 and 3 users will receive GPS data from the onboard GPS chip on Apple Watch and will utilize that until connection is re-established.
In short, there are many ways to use Golfshot in tandem with the Apple Watch Series 1 or 2 or 3. Understanding the technical workings of the GPS on your Apple Watch can help you choose the best setting and experience to play your best golf.
A note on battery life…
Battery life is a huge focus for us at Golfshot because a golf app that can’t last a full round isn’t a tool worth using. There are ways for the Apple Watch Series 2 and 3 GPS to be constantly running and always up to date. But the sacrifice of doing this is a battery life that has been unable to finish a round of golf in the most ideal scenarios.