Will Fitbit’s ‘magic number’ really step up your fitness game?

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Where will Fitbit’s 10,000 steps a day lead you?
Where will Fitbit’s 10,000 steps a day lead you?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Fitbit reported its best-ever holiday sales this week, but investors are fretting because the wearable maker’s guidance for the current quarter is lower than expected. Some analysts are questioning whether Fitbit can hold its own against competition from Cupertino.

Apple Watch has proved to be a fantastic fitness tracker for many Cult of Mac readers. So I was curious to find out how Fitbit’s trackers compare. They may be cheaper than Apple Watch, but are they as effective at promoting healthy habits?

Apps vs. apparel: Can Strava compete with big sportswear brands?

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The last of the indie fitness apps: can Strava hold their own against the big brands?
The last of the indie fitness apps: Can Strava hold its own against the big brands?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Sports apparel makers clearly believe that fitness apps are an important part of their futures. Under Armour and Adidas have invested heavily in fitness apps, and Runkeeper’s recent acquisition by ASICS is just the latest in a long series of app acquisitions by apparel makers.

These companies have big brands and deep pockets. Can an indie developer realistically compete with all that? Gareth Nettleton, VP of marketing for indie fitness app Strava, tells me that like any serious athlete, his hard-charging company thrives on competition.

How to turn your iPhone’s Health app into an essential fitness dashboard

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A dashboard for your body: all your key stats at a glance.
The Health app can become a dashboard for your body, offering all your key stats at a glance.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Despite its heart-shaped icon, Health is an unloved app. It tends to gets relegated to a junk folder, along with other un-deletable Apple cruft, like the Stocks app.

But when you get past its garish colors and clunky user interface, Apple’s Health app turns out to be genuinely useful — if you customize the dashboard to match your personal fitness goals.

How Apple’s wireless EarPods could change the way we hear everything

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Could Apple’s wireless EarPods use hearing aid technology to offer holographic sound, augmented-reality Siri and superhuman hearing?
Could Apple’s wireless EarPods use hearing aid technology to offer holographic sound, augmented-reality Siri and superhuman hearing?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Recent reports suggest Apple might ship wireless, noise-canceling EarPods with the iPhone 7. From a hardware perspective, these headphones would be very similar to hearing aids.

With the right feature set, these devices could change the way we hear digital audio and pave the way for transformative new audio experiences for everyone.

Fitness apps are ruining the Apple Watch. Apple should scrap them.

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My resolution for 2016: Less staring at spinning dots, more running.
My resolution for 2016: Less staring at spinning dots, more running.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple has got its fitness strategy all wrong. It sees Apple Watch as a computing platform rather than a device, and so it promotes third-party apps instead of making better built-in ones of its own.

That may be a fine strategy for Macs and iPhones, but it just does not work for watches and fitness trackers. Relying on third-party fitness apps means spending far too long staring at the spinning dots of death (the Watch equivalent of a spinning beachball), when we should be working out.

Instead of offering a range of underwhelming third-party workout apps, what Apple Watch really needs is one great built-in app that integrates with popular fitness platforms like Runtastic and MapMyRun.