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How gadgets helped me go from dad bod to six pack

Fitness gadgets saved my life. Sort of.

Fitness gadgets saved my life. Sort of.

I used to live the classic geek lifestyle, forever hunched over a MacBook, munching on comfort food. Until one day cancer forced me to take my health more seriously.

Now I run marathons and lift weights for fun. But the geek is still strong in me. From GPS watches to bioelectrical impedance analyzers, I’ve used pretty much every kind of fitness gadget.

Here’s the story of how fitness gear helped me get in shape for the first time in my life and swap my middle-aged dad bod for a six pack.

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What does ‘fitness’ mean and why does it matter?

Apple Watch's Activity app

What exactly are fitness trackers tracking?

Many people say they want to get fit, but what does this actually mean? Fit for what?

The websites of leading fitness trackers, like Apple Watch, Fitbit, Microsoft Band and Jawbone Up don’t shed much light on this question. They talk a lot about the things that their devices measure, and even suggest changes in how we go about our day, but they rarely explain why this matters or what the actual benefits are.

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Headaches await if you break your Apple Watch

Good luck trying to get a broken Apple Watch repaired. Replacements are as scarce as brand new ones.

Good luck trying to get a broken Apple Watch repaired. Replacements are as scarce as brand new ones.

What happens when you try to get a broken Apple Watch repaired? Not much of anything!

I know this because my Apple Watch broke last week and I have a repair order pending.

Luckily, the watch is covered by Apple’s AppleCare+ extended warranty, which covers accidental damage. It also offers two-day express replacement. No downtime without your new precious.

This would be great, but Apple doesn’t have any watches to replace it with. Apple’s watches are in such short supply, it might be Christmas before a replacement is available.

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Why the Apple Watch is keeping me awake at night

Which apps take up the most space on your wrist?

There’s a definite downside to Apple Watch obsession.

No gadget ever caused me to lose as much sleep as the Apple Watch.

I wish I could forget about Apple’s shiny new smartwatch, but the damned thing has me under its spell. It’s the curse of Cupertino, and I’m just another hapless a victim.

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Designing for Android: an iOS developer’s perspective

Photo: Diarmuid Miklós/Flickr

A one-size-fits-all hybrid design for Android and iOS apps is not the best of both worlds. Photo: Diarmuid Miklós/Flickr

As an iOS developer, I’m frequently asked, “When are you going to do an Android version?” Like it is just a matter of time.

But the truth is, we’ll probably never support Android. While there are sound business rationales for this, my motives are rooted in design philosophy.

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The trouble with Apple Watch’s fitness tracker

Your "other" workout had better be cardio. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Your “other” workout had better be cardio. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple’s approach to fitness is all about cardio and burning calories.

That’s great if you’re into running or cycling. But for other kinds of exercise, like bodybuilding or yoga, it’s not relevant at all. And if you want to lose weight, cutting the calories you eat is usually more important than burning calories through exercise.

So why does Apple Watch focus exclusively on cardio, and what does this means for people using one to get in shape?

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In praise of the ambitious, indispensible Apple Watch

Apple Watch is a great early adopter device. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch is going to be a big, fat mainstream hit. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Most early reviews of the Apple Watch didn’t do it justice. It’s fine, they said, but not for everybody.

Come on! COME ON!!!!

The Apple Watch is the most exciting gadget for years. Its ambition is huge. It does a ton of stuff. It’s not some silly smartwatch — it’s a computer for your wrist. And I’m loving it.

Yeah, it has its quirks, and it’s far from perfect, but it’s a great vision, and it’s only going to get better!

It’s a ton of fun, and it works great — except when it doesn’t.

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How to turn great iOS app ideas into something real

Time to find a great programmer.

Time to find a great programmer. Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

My friends, family and even complete strangers are constantly asking me how to get their million-dollar app idea in the App Store.

This is always a shocker for me because, after countless hours of hard work over the past two years, my app is barely breaking even.

But I can offer one solid piece of advice for anybody hoping to turn a clever idea into a world-beating app: Find yourself an amazing developer and hold on tight.

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How App Store reviews can help indie developers

The NASAViz Universal app. Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flicker CC

Five-star reviews are great, but there’s another type of App Store review that’s truly stellar. Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flicker CC

Customer reviews on the App Store are good for business. It’s not just that good reviews can improve your app’s ranking. Reviews have also helped me build a better app.

But with all the fake reviews and haters out there, it’s sometimes hard to see the wood from the trees. The trick is to know exactly which reviews to pay attention to — and the secret is all in your stars.

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How App Store optimization can harm indie developers

iOS App Store.

Critical errors can do real damage as you try to rise to the top of the App Store.

I followed the advice of an App Store optimization expert last year in an attempt to promote my iPhone app. Big mistake. It felt wrong at the time, and it did more harm than good. Now I’ve learned to trust my gut instincts instead.

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