Archive for the ‘apple watch’ Category

Apple releases iOS 12.3, macOS 10.14.5, watchOS 5.2.1, and tvOS 12.3

May 13th, 2019
A man walks in front of a giant video display onstage.

Enlarge / Apple announced some of these features at its services-and-TV-focused event on March 25. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Today, Apple began rolling out new versions of its iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS operating systems for iPhones and iPads, Macs, Apple Watches, and Apple TVs, respectively.

The updates are largely focused on the video services that Apple announced at its March 25 event—namely, a revamped Apple TV app, Apple TV Channels, and an expansion of AirPlay 2 to devices produced by Apple's partners. A handful of bug fixes, performance optimizations, and other small tweaks are also included in the updates.

And no doubt deliberately timed with these updates, AirPlay 2 and Apple TV app support has finally rolled out to supporting Samsung TVs as planned. Apple says they'll roll out to supporting LG, VIZIO, and Sony smart TVs "later this year."

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Posted in apple, Apple TV, apple tv 4k, apple watch, iOS, iOS 12, iOS 12.3, iphone, Mac, MacOS, macOS 10.14.5, macOS Mojave, Samsung, Tech, tvos, tvOS 12, tvOS 12.3, watchos, watchOS 5, watchOS 5.2.1 | Comments (0)

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music review: New features, better price, few sacrifices

May 12th, 2019
Garmin Forerunner 245 Music review: New features, better price, few sacrifices

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Runners have a lot to be excited about when it comes to Garmin's revamped family of Forerunner smartwatches. Now starting at $199, the Forerunner family contains six devices that should serve all levels of runner—from novice to expert. The $299 Forerunner 245 and 245 Music sit right in the middle of the lineup, taking design elements from the friendlier Vivoactive series and capabilities from the higher-end Forerunner devices and mashing them up to make a mid-range device that will likely appeal to many athletes. Its price and feature set also prep the Forerunner 245 Music to compete with the Apple Watch and Fitbit's Ionic.

But even if Garmin somewhat simplified the Forerunner family in its latest update, picking the best device for your needs and budget still takes a bit of deciphering. By nature of it sitting in the middle, the Forerunner 245 duo begs to be the default option for most runners—but key features that it lacks may push some consumers to the more expensive $449 Forerunner 645. We tested out the Forerunner 245 Music to see how well it stands up to the Forerunner 645 Music and where users need to make sacrifices to have the new smartwatch work for them.

Compared to the Forerunner 645

Before we dive into the new features brought over to the Forerunner 245 Music from other Garmin wearables, let's talk about what the device cannot do. Garmin omitted a few things to widen the gap between this new device and the Forerunner 645 duo (regular and Music), and the most glaring omission is that of the barometric altimeter. The Forerunner 645 devices have it, but the Forerunner 245 devices do not—that means the new devices cannot track stairs climbed or measure elevation as accurately while hiking.

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Posted in apple watch, Fitbit, fitbit ionic, fitness watch, forerunner, forerunner 245 music, Garmin, smartwatchf, Tech, vivosmart | Comments (0)

Mini-review: Fitbit’s Versa Lite favors affordability over unnecessary features

March 23rd, 2019
Mini-review: Fitbit’s Versa Lite favors affordability over unnecessary features

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

The Versa Lite confused me at first. When Fitbit announced the new Inspire and Inspire HR fitness trackers, the company also debuted the new Versa Lite. This smartwatch looks identical to the original Versa, which came out last year, but it lacks a few features and costs $40 less. Considering the Versa was meant to be a cheaper, more accessible version of the $300 Fitbit Ionic, it was strange to see Fitbit come up with an even more affordable version of its already affordable smartwatch.

But Fitbit is positioning itself as the company with smartwatches for all kinds of people. Instead of making one flagship device with a bunch of features like Apple has done with the Apple Watch, Fitbit is investing in numerous devices with different feature sets at various price points. Now, the Versa family has three devices: the $159 Versa Lite, the $199 Versa, and the $229 Versa Special Edition. Choice provides more accessibility, but it can also breed confusion.

We tested out the Versa Lite to see how different it really is compared to the original Versa and if it's worth pocketing that extra $40.

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Posted in apple, apple watch, Fitbit, Gadgetology, Garmin, smartwatch, Tech, versa, versa lite, wearable | Comments (0)

Apple Watch accurately spotted heart condition 34% of the time in study

March 18th, 2019

(credit: Apple)

In a large Apple-sponsored study assessing whether the pulse sensor on older versions of the Apple Watch (Series 1, 2, and 3) can pick up heart rhythm irregularities, researchers found that only 34 percent of participants who received an alert of an irregular pulse on their watch went on to have a confirmed case of atrial fibrillation, a common type of irregular heart rhythm.

The study was led by researchers at Stanford, who presented the results Saturday in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology. The results have not been published in a scientific journal and have not been peer-reviewed.

The study, dubbed the Apple Heart Study, began in November 2017, before the release of the Apple Watch Series 4, which includes an electrocardiograph (ECG) feature for monitoring heart activity. Though the study didn’t keep pace with that of wearable device development, it was rather speedy relative to clinical trials. In fact, some cardiologists were impressed simply by the short period of time in which the study was able to recruit such a large number of participants—nearly 420,000—plus follow up with them using telemedicine and get results.

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Posted in apple, apple watch, atrial fibrilation, cardiovascular health, ECG, heart monitoring, science, Tech, wearables | Comments (0)

Fitbit Inspire HR review: A worthy $99 investment in your health

March 12th, 2019
Fitbit Inspire HR review: A worthy $99 investment in your health

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Apple may be dominating the wearable space, but Fitbit isn't far behind. Long before Apple even made smartwatches, Fitbit made fitness trackers for all types of people who would like to become healthier or advance their training to the next level. And as of late, Fitbit's $129 Alta HR surpassed others as our favorite simple-yet-powerful fitness band that could work for almost anyone.

But now, Fitbit is retiring the Alta HR and replacing it with the new $69 Inspire and $99 Inspire HR fitness trackers. These devices are meant to not only fix some of the shortcomings of the Alta HR but to also attract users who have never worn a wearable before. There are plenty of those people, and Fitbit is betting that a good portion of them don't want a smartwatch and would jump at the chance to spend less on something that's just as capable when it comes to fitness.

We recently spent about a week with the Inspire HR to see for ourselves if Fitbit had taken what Ars saw as the best tracker out there and in fact made it better. And perhaps more importantly to this fitness brand, how compelling is this new wearable for newbies?

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Posted in alta HR, apple watch, Features, Fitbit, fitness tracker, Gadgetology, inspire, inspire HR, Tech, versa, versa lite | Comments (0)

Fitbit goes after new wrists with less expensive $159 Versa Lite smartwatch

March 6th, 2019

Instead of doubling down and trying to make the next best Apple Watch killer, Fitbit is focusing on potential users and prices. Today, the company launched the new $159 Versa Lite smartwatch, a pared-down version of the $199 wearable it came out with last year. It will also bring the newly announced Inspire and Inspire HR fitness trackers, priced from $69 to $99, to all consumers.

The Versa Lite doesn't look very different from the original $199 Versa, but Fitbit removed a few features to keep the device's price down. The Lite doesn't have the ability to track floors climbed, count swim laps from your wrist (although it can track swimming workouts), play music, or show on-screen guided workouts.

The Versa Lite also doesn't have onboard Wi-Fi, but it can still receive smartphone alerts when your smartphone is nearby. It also has a new updates feature that will initiate a small update download every time the user syncs the device to the Fitbit mobile app. The Lite won't be the device that keeps you in the loop at all times like the Apple Watch or even the original Versa does—but it still keeps the digital world on your wrist.

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Posted in apple watch, Fitbit, fitness tracker, inspire, inspire HR, smartwatch, Tech, versa, versa lite | Comments (0)

Apple Watch may finally gain sleep-tracking abilities in 2020

February 26th, 2019
The Apple Watch Series 4 on a wooden table.


Apple is reportedly working on bringing a feature to the Apple Watch that has been noticeably absent since the wearable's inception: sleep tracking. According to a report by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, "people familiar with the work" claim the iPhone maker has been testing a native sleep-tracking feature for its smartwatch over the past several months. Apple reportedly plans to introduce the feature by 2020, likely in a new model of the Apple Watch.

Despite tracking all-day activity, swimming, ECG, and more, the Apple Watch has never had a native sleep-tracking feature. That's been a long-time disadvantage for the wearable in comparison to some of its biggest competitors like Fitbit's Ionic and Versa smartwatches. Almost all of Fitbit's wearables track sleep, as do devices made by Garmin, Withings, and other health-tech companies.

However, there are Apple Watch apps that track sleep, but they're all made by third-party developers. Apple also isn't a stranger to sleep tech in general: the company bought the Finnish company Beddit in 2017 and sells its sleep-tracking mattress sensor on its website.

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Posted in apple, apple watch, battery life, Fitbit, sleep tracking, smartwatch, Tech, wearable, Withings | Comments (0)

Apple says iPhones were down 15% last quarter, but everything else was up 19%

January 30th, 2019
Close-up image of phones prominently displayed on a wooden table in a brightly lit, streetside store.

Enlarge / iPhones are seen at an Apple Store in Tianjin, China. (credit: Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Apple today shared its fiscal first-quarter revenue with shareholders. As investors feared and as previously warned, Apple posted revenue of $84.3 billion for the quarter ending in December, missing revenue expectations in the quarter by around $4 billion.

CEO Tim Cook primarily credited macroeconomic conditions in China and their impact on iPhone sales in that region for the failure to meet expectations. That said, the company reported that every part of its business besides the iPhone was up year over year, as was overall revenue in the United States and Europe. The quarter was its second best ever in terms of revenue.

Investors were waiting for the report with bated breath after the company announced earlier this year that it expected to miss its revenue target for the quarter. Apple stock has taken a considerable tumble in recent months thanks to fears about smartphone market saturation, trade tensions between the United States and China, and other unfavorable market conditions in China.

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Posted in apple, apple music, Apple TV, apple watch, earnings, iphone, Mac, Stocks, Tech | Comments (0)

Aetna makes an Apple Watch app—promises not to use activity data against you

January 30th, 2019
Aetna makes an Apple Watch app—promises not to use activity data against you


Health insurance giant Aetna has teamed up with Apple to create a health-tracking app for Apple Watch that will have access to Aetna members’ medical data and offer monetary rewards for meeting personalized wellness goals.

The idea is to go beyond basic activity monitors and generic step goals, the two companies said in a debut event today, January 29, in Boston. Instead, the app, called Attain, will create tailored goals—drawing from Aetna members’ own insurance and medical information to do so—and provide nudges and incentives that aim to boost long-term health.

For any Aetna members wary of sharing such health tracking data with their insurer and Apple, the two companies emphasized that the app was packed with security features (such as continuous authentication) and privacy features (such as opt-in data sharing choices). Perhaps most importantly, Aetna promised that the “[i]nformation from this program will not be used for underwriting, premium or coverage decisions.”

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Posted in activity tracker, aetna, apple, apple watch, attain, health app, prescription, science, wellness | Comments (0)

Withings undercuts Apple Watch, debuts $129 ECG monitoring smartwatch

January 7th, 2019
Withings undercuts Apple Watch, debuts $129 ECG monitoring smartwatch

Enlarge (credit: Withings)

Withings has had a tumultuous couple of years. The company was bought by Nokia only to be re-acquired by its original owner Éric Carreel last May. While it sells smart scales, thermometers, and other health electronics, the French company has an uphill battle ahead of it in the wearable space thanks to an oversaturated market. But it's aiming high with its newest device: the $129 Withings Move ECG targets those who want a more affordable device to measure electrocardiograms at home than the $350 Apple Watch.

Like Withings wearables of yesteryear, the Move ECG has an analog face but includes most of the smart technology inside that you'd expect from a modern wearable. The kickers are its three electrodes that measure electrocardiograms, two of which are embedded into the body of the watch while the third sits in the watch's bezel. To take a reading, users need to touch both sides of the bezel at the same time while wearing the watch and wait about 30 seconds for it to take a measurement.

The process sounds nearly identical to that of the Apple Watch Series 4, which has one circular electrode on its underside and one smaller electrode on its Digital Crown. The Move ECG sends that data to Withings' Health Mate mobile app so you can see if your heart beat was normal or if any signs of atrial fibrillation were detected. Data accumulated over time can be seen in larger charts and graphs in the app, and that data can be exported so users can easily share it with their doctors. As of today's announcement, the Move ECG is currently under review for FDA clearance (the Apple Watch Series 4's ECG app and its irregular rhythm notification have FDA clearance in the US).

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Posted in apple, apple watch, atrial fibrillation, CES 2019, ECG, heart rate, move ecg, Tech, Withings | Comments (0)