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My Apple Watch doesn’t know when I’m standing, and it’s driving me insane

Published Dec 30th, 2023 10:33AM EST
Apple Watch SE Right
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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I’m a longtime iPhone owner who also uses an Apple Watch. In fact, I stood in line and bought the first-gen wearable when it came out. I’m using the Apple Watch for health and fitness tracking. I don’t care about notifications, phone calls, music playback, or anything else. And I’m mostly content with what my Apple Watch SE 2 can do. By the way, it’s a 41mm model, which can attest that I don’t necessarily need a larger display on this thing. It could lack one for all I care.

I do use the display to check on health and fitness and to close all those rings – damn you, Apple, for gamifying this aspect of our lives. But this process works. I’ve been a lot more active this year, as I’ve realized I have to stop postponing my return to a healthier lifestyle. I’ve started running and walking more than ever and completed a few semi-marathon races, including two official ones.

My next plan is to run my first marathon, and the Apple Watch will play a big part in that, right alongside ChatGPT.

But with all that in mind, my Apple Watch is driving me crazy when it comes to registering standing. It routinely fails to register that I’ve been standing for more than a minute. And it tells me I’ve stood up when I didn’t.

The Stand ring will register the number of stand minutes per hour and then give you an estimate for the day and an average for various periods of time. I try to stand as much as possible during the day, and not just because I want to close the blue ring. It’s important, in my line of work and for my generation, to be standing as much as possible during the day.

That’s why the only Activity notification I still have toggled on is the Stand Reminders. I don’t need the Apple Watch to send me reminders for Daily Coaching or Goal Completions. I’m pretty active during the day. But I do want Stand Reminders when I’m sitting for 50 minutes straight.

I have Stand Reminders enabled on my Apple Watch.
I have Stand Reminders enabled on my Apple Watch. Image source: Chris Smith, BGR

When it happens, I stand up, walk a bit, and do a quick exercise for my feet. That’s one example where the Watch might fail to register movement. I might have to keep walking around for it to confirm that I’ve stood for at least a minute. But it gets worse. The Watch might take several minutes to realize I have been moving around.

I brush my teeth with one of those battery-powered devices that also have a timer to ensure I spend the correct amount on cleaning my teeth. That’s two minutes on the dot. Yet my Apple Watch will not register those as stand minutes.

I know, I know… The Apple Watch algorithms might not register movement unless I also move my wrist. That’s what the accelerometer picks up as a pattern of movement. I’ll touch on this again in a bit. But first, another example.

I might be washing dishes, which is a process that involves standing and moving my arms for at least a 10-minute stretch. My Apple Watch is probably out smoking a cigarette when that happens. It sure doesn’t register that time as me standing up. This doesn’t always happen, but I’ve noticed it a few times.

I can close these Apple Watch rings all day.
I can close these Apple Watch rings all day. Image source: Chris Smith, BGR

Annoyingly, the opposite might occur. I went to see Ridley Scott’s Napoleon, which is nearly three hours long. Whenever I go to such movies, I tend to shift in my seat after a while. I’ll just tilt forward after a while to give my back a rest for a few minutes without standing up. What do you know; the Apple Watch thought I stood up and gave me credit for it.

Remember that accelerometer? As all of this happened to me, I realized that you could pretend you’re moving by standing up and then moving your hands around your body. Maybe like what you’d do during a warmup. Technically, you are standing up, but this is cheating. You’ll get closer to closing those rings, but you’re cheating on your health.

All of this drives me crazy, and I’m not alone. You’ll find other people posting about this. It’s been this way for years. You’ll also find posts detailing potential fixes. One of them, which I have not tried, involves recalibrating my device. You’ll find the option in the Privacy section of the Apple Watch app on iPhone.

I'll reset that fitness calibration data soon.
I’ll reset that fitness calibration data soon. Image source: Chris Smith, BGR

I might have to do it, too, because I also suspect my Apple Watch is lying to me about how fast I’ve run an official semi-marathon race.

I’ll also point out another annoying thing about standing. The Apple Watch will send stand notifications even though bedtime is set up on the iPhone. I might be doomscrolling instead of sleeping, sure. But the Watch should stop telling me to stand up when I should be sleeping.

Will that fix it? I have no idea, but I certainly hope that Apple can improve its algorithms. Either that, or I might need a different Apple Watch. After all, I’m already looking to take advantage of Siri’s new Health powers, which require newer Apple Watch hardware. Not to mention that the Apple Watch Series 10 will bring blood pressure tracking, which is a must-have feature in my view.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.