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Posts tagged with "apple watch"

Apple Unveils ‘Time to Walk’ for Fitness+

As rumors suggested earlier this month, Apple has launched a new Fitness+ feature called ‘Time to Walk,’ which the company’s press release describes as “an inspiring new audio walking experience on Apple Watch for Fitness+ subscribers.”

Jay Blahnik, Apple’s senior director of Fitness Technologies, explains that:

“Walking is the most popular physical activity in the world, and one of the healthiest things we can do for our bodies. A walk can often be more than just exercise: It can help clear the mind, solve a problem, or welcome a new perspective. Even throughout this challenging period of time, one activity that has remained available to many is walking. With Time to Walk, we’re bringing weekly original content to Apple Watch in Fitness+ that includes some of the most diverse, fascinating, and celebrated guests offering inspiration and entertainment to help our users keep moving through the power of walking.”

The workouts will be downloaded automatically to your Apple Watch and can be accessed there and from the Fitness+ tab of the iPhone’s Fitness app. Each workout is around 25-40 minutes long and includes stories told by well-known guests who tell inspirational and entertaining stories about their lives. The stories, which were recorded while the guests walked, are coupled with images that automatically play on the Apple Watch and a short playlist of songs at the end of each story that is meaningful to the guest. Also, as soon as you start playing a Time to Walk story, your Watch will begin a walking workout. If you use a wheelchair, Time to Walk changes to Time to Push and starts a Wheelchair Walk Pace workout.

Time to Walk episodes start a walking workout automatically and include photos too.

Time to Walk episodes start a walking workout automatically and include photos too.

Apple says new guest stories will be introduced each Monday through April. The first four episodes include singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes, country music star Dolly Parton, NBA player Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors, and actor Uzo Aduba who starred in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black.

Walking is a great time to listen to audio. I look forward to trying Time to Walk, which have not yet appeared on my Apple Watch or iPhone. The integration with Fitness+ and the Workout app is nice, reducing the number of apps you need to visit before starting a walk while listening to something. I don’t expect Time to Walk will replace my music and podcast listening when I go for a walk, but the chance to hear interesting stories from well-known guests is a welcome alternative to those other mainstays of my workout routine.

Time to Walk should be available soon and is part of a Fitness+ subscription.


Apple Announces Partnership with (RED) to Combat HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 and Highlights Its PPE Donations in Zambia

Apple announced today that it is expanding its partnership with (RED), a relationship that spans fourteen years and has raised nearly $250 million to fund HIV and AIDS programs around the world, offering prevention, testing, and counseling services.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted HIV/AIDS programs around the world, so earlier this year, Apple’s (RED) contributions were redirected to the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on HIV/AIDS programs.

According to Apple’s press release:

These funds have allowed for additional contact tracing in South Africa, helped secure critical personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers and emergency medical equipment in Ghana, and enabled the purchase of motorbikes to deliver HIV treatment to local communities that have been unable to seek in-person health services due to COVID-19. Apple also donated millions of PPE units to the Ministry of Health in Zambia, including both surgical masks sourced from its supply chain and face shields designed and produced by Apple.

The PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 12 and Apple Watch Series 6.

The PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 12 and Apple Watch Series 6.

Apple’s support of (RED) continues this year with donations of 100% of all eligible proceeds from PRODUCT(RED) devices to the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response through June 30, 2021. The company will also donate $1 of every purchase made using Apple Pay on apple.com, or in the Apple Store app or an Apple retail store through December 7, 2020.

Apple is working to raise awareness of World AIDS Day too with red logos and window displays in retail stores, features on the App Store, tie-ins with Apple Music and The Ebro Show on Apple Music 1, and a special Watch Now collection in the Apple TV app.

A Zambian healthcare worker wearing an Apple-produced face shield.

A Zambian healthcare worker wearing an Apple-produced face shield.

Separately, Apple issued a press release about its donation of PPE to healthcare workers in Zambia to help them combat COVID-19 and HIV. Working with Zambia’s Ministry of Health, Apple donated:

millions of units of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Ministry of Health in Zambia. That includes both surgical face masks Apple sourced from its supply chain as well as face shields designed and produced by Apple.

As the press release explains, the donations have protected front-line healthcare professionals and provided patients with the confidence to continue their treatments for HIV.


watchOS 7: The MacStories Review

While a tumultuous software release would have been fitting in a year like 2020, watchOS 7 will find no such infamy. Stoically iterative, this year’s update to the Apple Watch operating system is lacking in surprises. But is that such a bad thing?

We spent years on the wild frontier of watchOS design and experience. As fun as it was to deconstruct each year’s crazy changes, the results were a product that didn’t yet know its purpose. These days that’s no longer the case. The Apple Watch exists primarily as a health and fitness device, and secondarily as a lightweight interface for many of the tasks you do on your iPhone each day. Also, it’s a watch.

watchOS 7 is all about health and fitness, plus some love for the Apple Watch’s watch-ness with a big supply of new faces and face-related features. A few more reasons to use your Watch instead of pulling out your iPhone are also sprinkled in, such as the new Shortcuts app and cycling directions in Maps.

While it may not be the most exciting annual update, there’s not much to complain about with the overall direction of watchOS 7. As always though, we can still dive deep into the implementation of the new features. Let’s break them each down and see how Apple did with watchOS 7.

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    Apple Fitness+, the Newest Apple Service, Will Arrive in Late 2020 Exclusively for Apple Watch Users

    Apple Fitness+ will work across a variety of Apple devices.

    Apple Fitness+ will work across a variety of Apple devices.

    Today alongside the introduction of the Apple One services bundle and new Apple Watch models, Apple also debuted a brand new paid service coming in late 2020: Apple Fitness+.

    Fitness+ is designed to work exclusively with the Apple Watch, requiring an Apple Watch Series 3 or later. When it launches, it will cost $9.99/month or $79.99/year, or it’s included as part of an Apple One Premier plan – and no matter how you get it, Fitness+ will offer Family Sharing support. There will also be a 1-month free trial for all users, or three months free for anyone purchasing an Apple Watch from September 15 on.

    Apple Fitness+ brings studio-style workout experiences to your Apple devices in a way that uniquely integrates with the Apple Watch. As a workout video plays, live metrics from your Watch will display in the corner of the screen so you can easily keep track of things like the duration of your workout, heart rate, and calories burned. You’ll also see your Activity rings on-screen, providing convenient updates on your progress as you exercise.

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    Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE: The MacStories Overview

    The new Apple Watch Series 6.

    The new Apple Watch Series 6.

    Today in what would normally be an iPhone-led September event, the Apple Watch was able to serve as headliner since new iPhones won’t be coming until October. It was a fitting change because Apple had news to share about not one, but two new Apple Watch models: the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE.

    These two devices follow Apple’s strategy with the iPhone, where there’s a flagship line plus a more affordable option that uses a mix of old and new parts. The Apple Watch Series 6 includes a new blood oxygen sensor, improved always-on display, S6 processor, an always-on altimeter, and new finishes. The Apple Watch SE also features the always-on altimeter and a similar design, but without the new color finishes, it includes the S5 processor from last year, but it doesn’t get the blood oxygen sensor nor does it include an always-on display. A new software addition is another key incentive for both the Series 6 and SE: Family Setup, which enables children to be Apple Watch users without having their own iPhones.

    Both new Apple Watches are available to order now, and will ship this Friday, September 18. Here’s the full run-down on each new device.

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    How the watchOS 7 Handwashing Feature Works

    Brian Heater at TechCrunch has published a detailed explanation of how the upcoming handwashing feature for Apple Watch works:

    The feature, which is built directly into the forthcoming version of watchOS, is designed to work like fitness tracking in a number of ways. For starters, if the user opts into it, it’s designed to automatically trigger when handwashing is detected, starting a countdown timer of 20 seconds. The accelerometer is the key piece of hardware here, waiting for the specific handwashing pattern — which apparently adopts a number of different methods, depending on who’s actually doing the scrubbing.

    The system uses machine learning models to tackle different methods, but the system gets an additional nudge from the Watch’s microphone. Along with motion, the app listens for the sound of running water. Even that’s not enough, though — after all, eco sinks have become increasingly popular, meaning that there’s often less water sound to be listening for. The sound of squishing soap takes care of that last bit. It’s got a unique enough audio signature so as to confirm that handwashing is taking place.

    Interestingly, the piece notes that this feature has been in the works for years, it isn’t simply a reaction to the current pandemic. I haven’t tried the feature yet, but I’m anxious to see if it works as advertised. If it’s unreliable, I’ll surely leave it turned off, but if it works well it could be a valuable aid to preventing the contraction of COVID-19. At the very least, I’m always happy to see Apple explore new areas of health.

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    Stephen Hackett on the Apple Watch’s Breathe App

    Stephen Hackett, writing at 512 Pixels:

    When Apple added the Breathe feature to watchOS 3, I — like many of you, I suspect — turned it off pretty quickly. However, over the last six months, it has come to be one of my favorite things about wearing my Apple Watch.

    Hackett goes on to explain some of the specific circumstances that led him to revisit Breathe, and why it’s become such a valuable tool for him.

    It’s fairly common for me to forget that a feature exists because I made a decision once, a long time ago, to turn it off. Revisiting the Breathe app could be a useful thing for a lot of us right now.

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    Apple Watch Activity Challenge Coming June 5 for World Environment Day

    Apple Watch owners will have the chance to earn perhaps their most attainable special Activity award yet. On Friday, June 5 the World Environment Day Challenge will call Apple Watch users to close their Stand ring for the day to earn a unique award badge. From the Activity app:

    Recognize World Environment Day this Friday. Close your Stand ring on June 5 and earn this award by getting up and moving around for at least one minute during 12 hours that day.

    Presumably for wheelchair users, the award can be earned as well by closing the Roll ring, which follows the same basic parameters as the Stand ring.

    I always enjoy earning additional awards related to Activity challenges, so I’m glad Apple is continuing to offer these options and adapt them to the restrictions of the ongoing pandemic.


    Apple Releases New Pride Edition Watch Bands Ahead of Pride Month, New Watch Faces Coming Soon

    In anticipation of Pride month in June, Apple today has announced the release of two new Pride Edition bands for the Apple Watch, and new Pride watch faces that will be available soon as part of the watchOS 6.2.5 release.

    It’s become an annual tradition for Apple to debut a new Pride band for Apple Watch and an accompanying watch face, but this is the first time there have been two new options launching. The Pride Edition Sport Band features the traditional rainbow pattern similar to last year’s offering, though that previous band was a Sport Loop, rather than the first-time Sport Band option available this year. The Nike Pride Edition Sport Band follows the unique design style of Nike’s other bands, but with its rainbow colors adorning the white band’s holes. The Nike Pride face arriving in the next watchOS update is unique as well, with colored dots representing the face’s hour markings.

    The new Watch bands will be available today from the Apple Store, and watchOS 6.2.5 is anticipated to release some time in the next month leading up to WWDC.