Apple Watch is a great innovation and opens up new opportunities when integrated with iPhone golf apps. Unfortunately, it also comes with limitations that dictate the way in which it can be used.
The default behavior of the Apple Watch is to use the iPhone’s GPS location when available (ie. when paired via Bluetooth). This is to conserve battery life and to support Apple Watch Series 1, which does not have integrated GPS. This can be frustrating for golf applications as the yardage from your golf cart or bag does not benefit you if standing over your ball 30 yards away. Unfortunately there is not currently a way to override this feature in software.
This leads to two main ways to utilize the Apple Watch when playing a round of golf with PocketPAR:
1) Keep your phone in your pocket.
Pros: This solves the issue as your iPhone GPS will accurately reflect your position on the golf course and yardages will be correct. This also allows you to mark shots using the interface on your watch and have instant syncing with your iPhone to review marked shots as you play.
Cons: You must keep your phone on you throughout the round.
2) Disable Bluetooth on your phone.
Pros: Your watch will be forced to use it’s GPS. You are independent of the phone for yardages and can leave your phone in your golf bag or golf cart once the round is initialized.
Cons: Only applicable to Apple Watch Series 2+ (Series 1 does not have integrated GPS and requires an iPhone for yardages). Any shots marked on your watch will not synchronize with the iPhone until Bluetooth is re-enabled. Some Apple Watch users also experience slower GPS lock times when not paired with the phone as the GPS chip may take time to lock onto GPS satellites from a sleep state.
The short summary at this time is that there is not a simple answer for seamless independence of Apple Watch and iPhone. This restriction has been raised to Apple and we hope for an eventual resolution, but at this time we are unfortunately stuck with these limitations.
However, despite the limitations, we believe the Apple Watch experience is one that improves the overall functionality of PocketPAR and makes it even easier to track shots on the golf course. We hope to continue to improve the functionality and feature set provided by the watch extension.