wearables

Fitness 101: Living Healthier & More Active with Moov Now, Lose It! and The Fitbit Scale

With a quick glance around Starbucks I notice a Microsoft Fitness Band 2, Fitbit Charge HR, Fitbit Flex and an Apple Watch; just yesterday I bumped into a Garmin Viviosmart and when I went to the gym later in the day I strapped a Moov Now to my ankle for a quick jog on the treadmill and 7-minute workout.

Fitness trackers have not only become an everyday accessory in our daily wardrobe but an extension of our body and part of our daily routine. But, with all these wearable devices tracking steps, stairs, heart rate and active minutes are they making any real difference in our health? Are they helping us obtain a more active and healthy lifestyle? After we consistently reach our 10,000 steps a day and 300 calorie burn a day, how do we keep them from becoming mundane and routine, possibly undoing the good habits we just invested months building. It then might be time to get-in-the-zone with a wearable that will rise to your more active lifestyle like the $79.95, multi-sport wearable coach, Moov Now, that analyzes the device data while you are working out to provide live coaching during your run, 7-Minute workout, cardio-boxing, swim or bike ride.

Unlike the Fitbit, you most likely will only wear the Fusion Red, Aqua Blue, Blizzard White or Stealth Black Moov Now during an active workout. Although you could wear it all the time, the real value of this wearable is during the workout since it doesn’t automatically sync with your phone through out the day nor does it currently display step tracking. However, as of this posting there is a tweet floating around with a link to a Moov Now beta program testing its upcoming leaderboard and redesigned daily activity and sleep tracking. This upcoming release may change how often you decide to wear the device. Until then, once you strap it onto your wrist or ankle you’re ready to be live-coached through a great app-provided workout including running, walking, swimming, kick-boxing or even a 7-Minute workout.

Choosing the right fitness device is only the beginning of your journey into a healthier lifestyle, and with your commitment to being more active, you will start to notice cravings for protein rich foods, sugar rushes and the urge to buy a shaker bottle. During this time it also helps to use an app like Lose It! –don’t be fooled by the name, it’s a great app for people also wanting to gain or maintain weight– to track your daily calories, exercise, nutrition, as well as a Wi-Fi scale like Fitbit’s Aria so you won’t have to remember to weigh-in.

Lose It! is the best food database next to rival My Fitness Pal (MFP). The biggest differences between the two rival apps are in user-interface and speed. The Lose It! database is just as comprehensive as MFP but faster, and Lose It’s diary log is more graphically represented with food icons. If you log a banana, there is a small icon of the banana. If you log a beer there is an icon of pilsner glass. You get the idea. At first I didn’t like the Skeuomorphic style, but after a few weeks of using Lose It! I have come to appreciate the quick-glance recognition of foods and the easy to read “My Day” view with circle graphs for calories, nutrients, steps and challenges.

Putting all this tech together may seem a little overwhelming at first, but keep reading this series and you’ll learn how to use each of the tools mentioned like a champ. We will take a much closer look at the Moov Now and Lose It! app and share with you how we’ve used fitness wareables and apps to accomplish our weight and health goals.

Up Next: Lets Moov! Now
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Why I Threw Out My Skinomi TechGlass for Apple Watch After 24 Hours

When I found the Skinomi TechGlass was going to be available again the end of March I didn’t hesitate tapping the “Buy It Now” button on Amazon, but after the first 24 hours with it on my 42mm Apple Watch Sport I am extremely disappointed. So disappointed in fact that I am replacing it with their film based Skinomi TechSkin product or just not using a watch face protector at all.

There is an old saying “you get what you pay for” and for only $5.95 on Amazon, why did I expect anything better? I think that I expected something better because of my great experience with Skinomi’s film-based TechSkin product. Despite the clarity isn’t as good between the two products, the TechSkin fit edge to edge and didn’t leave a dusty looking ring. It didn’t change the design feel of the Apple Watch and provided an added level of scratch resistance without blurring the display.

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I actually tweeted my tech-bud @bryanlewis “first look: @bryanlewis the @Skinomi TechGlass is so ugly &about 2mm too small that I almost threw up a little. ” And, there’s that dust ring.

Skinomi did the best they could with design. If you look at many other tempered glass screen protectors they all have one design criticism in common: they are not an edge to edge fit. This makes sense because many devices from the Apple Watch and iPhone to the Samsung S7 have beveled and curved edges. This would require the glass protector to be precisely curved during manufacturing, which practically zero are, so therefore they can only cover the device’s flat surface area and often end up looking, well, awkward.

The awkwardness of the glass, however, was not the breaking point for me. It was the dust ring. You can clearly see it the photo above. The strange part is that this ring was not there when the glass was first applied to the watch face. It gradually appeared. And, to answer the obvious question, yes, I followed the very simple directions when applying, even though the instructions included were for a smartphone device (see image below). Between using the TechSkin film skin to first pick up all the tiny dust particles and then wiping down the watch face with the included Alcohol pad I expected to have no issues with clarity. The TechGlass dropped on perfectly the first time, without any need for adjustment or air-bubbling. I have to admit that I was initially very impressed with the TechGlass up until the dust ring appeared.

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I considered returning the product through Amazon, but as I started the process I noticed a “Return Policy” link. Here is what it said:

Customer satisfaction is our top-most priority. Skinomi.com offers a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee on all our products for any reason, as long as the item is returned within 30 days from the date the item is received. Items must be returned with the original packaging and order invoice.

Unopened items can be returned for a full refund within the 30-day period. Opened items can be returned for a refund of the purchase amount minus a minimum of $2.95 restocking fee within the 30-day period.

Is it just me or does the second paragraph contradict the first? They offer a 30Day Money Back Guarantee but if you’re product is opened, which mine is, there is a $2.95 restocking fee. Considering that I the purchased the Skinomi TechGlass from Amazon for only $5.95, less the $2.95 restocking fee, my estimated refund after also paying for return shipping be would cost me an additional $1.

Unfortunately because of Skinomi’s wacky Return Policy as well as the poor quality of the product, including shipping it with incorrect instructions, I’m going to toss my $5.95 in the recycle can alongside the packaging and order invoice and have to unfortunately not recommend the Skinomi TechGlass; even for the small price $5.95.

I Survived Two Days Without My Apple Watch And It Didn’t Bother Me

Having forgot to drop my Apple Watch on the charger Friday night, I woke up Saturday morning looking at a 3% battery alert. So I ughed and shrugged and snapped it onto the magnetic charger then enjoyed the first day of Spring sitting in the warm sun reading a Paulo Coelho book over a cup of coffee for a few hours. I could you give you the old-school Twitter play-by-play update of the rest morning, but it ends with me standing in Home Depot after lunch realizing that I completely forgot about my charging Apple Watch and it didn’t bother me. Why is this I wondered? and then I started thinking about what I actually use my $399 Apple Watch for.

Date & Time + weather
Outside of the obvious date and time, the weather complication on the watch face was the first feature of my Apple Watch that I missed most. Although, I did have my iPhone in my back pocket, just a quick twist of the wrist and seeing the current temperature is a really awesome convenience. Plus, with a quick tap on the temperature I can view the hourly forecast for temp, precipitation, hourly and 10-day outlook.

Watch Faces
The next feature that I absolutely missed about my Apple Watch are the watch faces. Even though they are just “okay” compared to some of the faces I have seen for Android Wear devices and the Apple Watch Hermes edition, I like having the option of matching a face to an outfit, event or function. Lately weather has been crazy and making that the focus of my watch has been invaluable, where as other times, a simple clock face has reduced stress by putting less emphasis on time, appointments and activity circles.

Activity Rings
I have to admit that I am addicted to these little colorful rings. Being at a desk all day long as a programmer I tend to forget to stand, stretch and walk as much as I probably should, as well as eat sometimes, and my Apple Watch does a terrific job keeping me on track. It’s not perfect, but it keeps me a bit more motivated than when I didn’t have it around for the last two days.

Text Messages
Yes and no. I did miss receiving text messages, but because Siri has her challenges I rarely use my Apple Watch to actually respond or initiate messages. At times I try and try again with her, but the user experience of replying to messages trips itself up with too many options that eventually require me to interact with the watch face using a finger. I feel these small issues are defeating the spirit of wearable technology requiring me to still depend on my iPhone to successfully reply-to or send a text message.

Apple Pay
Ha. Usually by the time I realize the merchant accepts Apple Pay, I already have my credit card in my hand ready to swipe and it’s more work to put the card back in my wallet just to use my watch. I have a friend @bryanlewis who absolutely loves Apple Pay and uses it all the time without any hiccups; just has not been my experience.

Siri
She never even crossed my mind. LMAO! “I’m sorry James, that’s not very nice to say.” Unfortunately Siri on my Apple Watch is just as bad as Siri on my iPhone 6. Half of the time “Hey Siri” doesn’t work and the other half when it does work she doesn’t understand what I am saying or is pretty slow interpreting my words.

Third-party Apps
I honestly haven’t found many third-party apps very useful. The reason for this is the communication delay between the watch and the iPhone. I have found this to be a problem in watch apps like MLB AT-BAT, 7-minute workout, LoseIt! and Strava. The data just doesn’t keep in sync between the too devices reliably, for example MLB AT-BAT sends a notification to my phone of a game lead change. I see it on my phone, tap my watch face and the MLB At-BAT complication is a few innings behind. I tap it and open the watch app and the score is still not accurate or in sync with the iPhone notification.

Do I like my Apple Watch? Yes. I love how it looks, the watch faces are polished and fun and the complications add value to the user experience, but did I miss it? No.

Pope Blesses Instagram, McDonald’s Happy Meal VR Box #yourlifeintech week 12

Today was a big day in tech for Apple enthusiasts, but as an Apple fanboy, Apple’s “Loop You in” event honestly felt a little flat. Maybe too many rumors are getting out, or maybe the announcements just don’t have the same innovative bang as they once did. A smaller iPad, smaller iPhone, new OS, watch bands, price cuts and AppleTV: lather rinse repeat.

So in a quick glance, Apple announced a new smaller iPad Pro starting at $599 (32GB) running iOS 9.3. Maybe it’s just me, but until that amazing 9.7 inch tablet runs either OSX or a more powerful iPad edition of iOS, I won’t be trading in my MacBook anytime soon. They dropped the Apple Watch price to $299 (from $349) and introduced a new line of nylon bands ($49) and also a black Milanese Loop ($149). iOS 9.3 will be heading to your device soon and adds the color-temperature changing Night Shift, Notes with Touch ID and password support. They also mentioned a few new updates for AppleTV including folder support, Siri support for the AppStore, as well as CarPlay and updates to CareKit. Wait, what is CareKit? Anyhow, they also revealed the iPhone SE, a smaller 4-inch iPhone starting at $399 which includes many of the bells and whistles of the iPhone 6s. Unfortunately, both the new smaller iPad and smaller iPhone are missing a few features I still hope for in the iPhone 7: inductive, wireless power, or even magnetic charging like on the Apple Watch and a microSD card. It may just be me, but Apple’s events the past few years have felt a little routine and predictable, reminiscent of the Palm V/Claudia Schiffer days from 2002.

For all the hype the technology world generates, there are few truly revolutionary products anymore. But someone came very close today: Get ready for the first handheld computer [Palm Computing’s Palm V] named for a supermodel. –cNet, January 2, 2002

On another #yourlifeintech note, the Pope joins and blesses Instagram, if you live in Sweeden you can turn your McDonald’s Happy Meal box into a VR headset. Oh, and Microsoft’s new edge web browser finally supports extensions.

Also, because of Easter weekend, and I’m going on a short vacation, there is a strong possibility that there will not be a #yourlifeintech week 13 update.

Top headlines from Week 12 of 2016

As Apple vs. FBI looms, WhatsApp and others look to increase encryption
Skype for Web upgraded, now supports dialing mobile phones, landlines and more
Now an F-16 can launch a swarm of 3D-printed carbon fiber drones
Instagram is switching its feed from chronological to best posts first
Chevy’s new Malibu keeps teens safe from themselves
Waze helps you plan future trips based on expected traffic
Nixon’s Android Wear smartwatch is water resistant up to 100 meters and Michael Kors’ Android Wear smartwatches can change faces
A Clever New Strap Brings EKG Readings to the Apple Watch
Western Digital’s 314GB drive offers RPi a low-power solution
10 Apple signs deal to power part of iCloud with Google Cloud Platform
11 Google Is Reportedly Selling Its Crazy Robotics Lab, Boston Dynamics

Our favorite article for week 12

1 On the outside, this gizmo looks identical to a regular book of matches, but tucked inside you’ll find eight tiny, waterproof and magnetic flashlights the size of matches.

Apple Event, GoT S6 Teaser and Bezo’s Blue Origin Reusable Rocket #yourlifeintech week 11

Up in the sky, look! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, wait … no, it’s just a U.S. military drone flying over your house but the Pentagon maintains all of them obeyed laws restricting the use of these drones at home, and yeah, if you let us have a master key to your iPhone’s encryption we promise we won’t abuse it. Meanwhile, also flying the friendly skies will be 20 recently leased Boeing 767s for Amazon.Com that will be used to ship packages to customers in North America and save Amazon lots of money, but will not necessarily get your packages to you any faster if you’re not a Prime customer. Also, did you know that half all Americans believe the Zika virus is fatal (spoiler alert: it’s not). Facebook recently acquired Masquerade, an app that allows to easily swap your face with a monkey, zombie or maybe Leonardo DiCaprio and post it to all your friends which is way more interesting to share then a potentially deadly-plague-like virus spread by Mosquitos (we’re kidding). Just don’t forget the bug spray this summer.

Oh, and winter is coming, Game of Thrones releases Season 6 teaser.

Top headlines from Week 11 of 2016

1 Jeff Bezos and his space company Blue Origin plan to launch manned space missions by 2017, tourists trips by 2018 as the competition with Virgin Galactic and SpaceX heats up. In fact, Blue Orgin’s New Sheperd rocket quietly and successfully became the first rocket to fly above the Karman line and return to Earth with a vertical landing and repeat, beating Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

2 Twitter offers stock and cash bonuses to keep disheartened workers. However, I’m confused, wasn’t it back in October 2015 when Jack Dorsey returned to Twitter and  laid off 8% of its staff and now it’s trying to hold on current talent by offering stock and cash bonuses. This poor bird keeps keeps flying into windows.

3 Apple sends out invites for March 21 event. We aren’t popular enough to get one of ourselves (yet) but there seems to be a lot of exciting rumors for upcoming Apple releases, such as the iPhone 6c, iPad Air 3 and the next-generation Apple Watch. The new Apple Watch is rumored to include a front-facing camera with FaceTime support and a better Wi-Fi chip so it could be less dependent on the iPhone. It still be rectangular though, with no rumors of a round edition.

4 A recent Department of Defense report revealed that the Pentagon admits to deploying military drones over US cities. Although it was “less than 20 missions” between 2006 and 2015, the documents don’t state their purpose or what happened despite a current policy which forbids spying on U.S. Residents. And, the government wonders why Apple doesn’t want to build a back-door for them.

5 Whole Foods will add rooftop solar farms to more stores, 100 more stores to be exact and, it would be nice to think this is part of a sincere sustainability move for the organic food giant, but as more organic food markets are moving in on Whole Foods market with lower prices, it appears it’s more of a cost-cutting move.

6 After buying the fitness trackable company Misfit, Fossil announces $95 Q Motion activity tracker that also tracks sleep and looks a lot like Misfits latest trackable, which being a Q Reveler owner, is a serious disappointment that Fossil would even consider putting it’s brand on that device’s design.

7 New MIT code makes web pages load 34% faster in any browser by creating a dependency graph. The software, which is titled Polaris, is written in JavaScript making simple to implement, however, in order for a web site to benefit from the system, the site’s servers must run Polaris’ dependency-tracking measurement platform. Read the white paper by James Mickens to learn more about the technical details. This is exciting news for web development  community, but unfortunately we couldn’t find any software to download to try Polaris or the dependency tracking measurment platform for ourselves.

8 Facebook pays out $15,000 bounty to close but that allowed access to any users account, and targets 25% of the web with new WordPress plugin for Instant Articles. On April 12th at Facebook’s F8 conference, we will open up the Instant Articles program to all publishers—of any size, anywhere in the world.

9 A new bionic fingertip allows amputees to feel rough and smooth by using a series of sensors to detect undulations in the surface beneath them, converting the physical feel into electric signals. These signals can then be injected into the nerves of a patient. We wonder at what point will cyborgenetic technologies like this will become an enhancement to the human body providing us with additional capabilities, perhaps even for a job or just for the fun of doing it.

10 Microsoft’s SQL database now runs on Linux. Honestly I never thought I would be writing anything with the words Microsoft, open source and Linux in the same sentence, but since the departure of Gates and then Ballmer, the Redmond based company with CEO Satya Nadella’s leadership is making a new Microsoft.  The company is even working with the creators of key Linux distribution, Red Hat and Ubuntu to get the program running smoothly. SQL Server for Linux won’t officially ship until mid-2017, but there’s already a preview for corporations that want a peek.

11 Google’s Go-playing artificial intelligence has claimed victory in a historic match against Korean grandmaster Lee Sedol winning a three straight games in this best-of-five series, but computers have been beating humans in games like checkers and chess for the last 25 years, so I guess humans kind of suck at board games anyhow.

Our favorite reviews & articles for week 11

1 Amazon’s latest series will be based on the cyborg short-film, True Skin. It may be a little too Fifth Element for some, but the 6 minute short-film is worth watching and with a good plot line it has great potential.

2 I bet you didn’t know the Macbook power-block has an obvious design flaw and Ten One Design has a genius fix for just $20

3 Review: Hoverdock for Apple Watch @thegadgeteer

First 48 Hours with Apple Watch

Crime investigators say that the first 48 hours are the most critical if you’re going to catch a killer. The Apple Watch is certainly no killer in the world of smart watches but the first 48 hours for most tech is where first impressions are formed and ultimately the do-or-die decision to return an item or not is made by consumers.

So for me, is the Apple Watch a do or a die gadget? Admittedly I am late to this party, but have chosen to make a late appearance for a reason. I didn’t like WatchOS1 that much. I felt it was extremely limiting, much like the first iPhone when it was released back in 2007, which I would have never bought on my own. Even still, WatchOS2 feels like a sheltered child with an over protective parent, Apple, whom needs to trust its developer community a little more and let the WatchOS grow wings and fly into the digital horizon of greatness.

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A good example of trusting developers more and letting the OS spread its wings a little wider is allowing them to release custom watch faces. Simple, right? But, yeah, Mickey Mouse is cool with the second-tapping foot and all, but I would love to have a face with my favorite baseball team, the Red Sox, with the second hand like a bat swinging around the watch face. Fun, right? Or, maybe allow developers to develop stand-alone “complications” (this is what Apple calls those little widgets like, Date, Activity, Timer, Weather that are on the watch faces) that aren’t required to be part of another iOS app, such as an alternate battery-levels icon. The current one looks too similar to the Activity “complication” but as a user, I’m stuck with what mom (Apple) gives me.

The app marketplace has grown quite a bit with existing app developers adding WatchOS support, but I feel the adoption has been slow and limited. Some of my favorite apps apps outside of the standard Apple apps (like the Activity and Music apps as shown below in last screen-shots), for WatchOS include: Yelp, Shazam, My Fitness Pal, Wunderlist, and, yeah, that’s about it.

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What I like

  1. Watch faces and the ability to customize with available “complications”.
  2. Music control of Apple Music and ability to sync playlists when not connected with iPhone.
  3. Activity and Workout app. The Activity app has a great user experience. The Outdoor app has lot of potential including more exercises as well as analysis of live data for real-time AI coaching. I know Apple typically leaves this type of development up to third-party developers, but right now they could really run away with the game against other teams like Fitbit and Moov.
  4. Maps navigation via watch face so you that you don’t always have to be glancing at your phone while driving. Turn-by-turn voice guidance is still provided with Siri through the iPhone.
  5. Apple Pay done right. They implemented it so you your phone is not required to use Apple Pay. This is great for those times you take a run, leaving your phone at home, and stop to buy a Gatorade at 7-11.
  6. Siri, at times, works with the right voice command, such as, “Set a reminder to take out trash when I get home” will set a reminder in the Reminders app and notify of you via your iPhone GPS when you arrive home. Other commands that are useful are: “How long until I get to home or to work”, “Add bread to shopping list”, or “what is the weather like in …”

What I don’t like

  1. The price. $349 for the 38mm Sport is a lot of money for the current tech it offers.
    2. No built-in Wi-Fi. This would help it situations where your iPhone and Watch are separated. It would allow you send texts via iMessage, as well as maybe even  place calls via Wi-Fi calling (AT&T). Update: Wi-Fi is available if your iPhone has previously connected to the network and the network is not public (e.g., Starbucks) or on a 5Ghz band. The phone icon on the “Connected” glance (swipe up and left from watch face) will become a cloud when connected to Wi-Fi.
  2. While separating out Apple Pay and Wallet, Passbook is also a separate app. This is most noticeable when you arrive at Starbucks. Double-pressing the side button only shows the current bank or credit cards in your “wallet” excluding other passport passes.
  3. No GPS. For me, this is a biggie. At the lowest price point of $349 I expected this. It would allow me to be completely iPhone free on a run or bike ride.

A few tips

  1. To return to the last app you used double-press the digital crown.
  2. To quickly access Apple Pay double-press the side-button.
  3. To take a screen-shot, press the side-button and then the digital crown. Your screen-shot will automatically be saved to your photo app on your iPhone.
  4. Press and hold the side-button to power-off the Watch, enable power-reserve or lock the device.
  5. Send your heartbeat to other Apple Watch users by clicking the side-button, select your friend, tap the Digital-Touch icon (center icon) and the lightly press two fingers on the display. Your heartbeat will show up on your friend’s watch until you lift your fingers.

Despite my quick-criticisms, my first 48 hours with the Apple Watch has been a fun, a new user experience that I don’t regret. However, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to trade-in my old iPhone 5 for a $200 Apple credit and that I only paid $228 out-of-pocket, which is still a lot of money for a device that honestly only mirrors my iPhone 6.

Product Source:
Purchased from Apple store, 42mm, Sport, $399.

Website:
http://www.apple.com

Order at Amazon and save!
$295 (38mm) – $354 (42mm) Sport Edition