Strength is the missing Activity Ring. Here’s how you can close it.

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Strength training is currently Apple’s weakness
Strength training is currently Apple’s weakness
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

The Activity Rings on your Apple Watch don’t provide a complete picture of your fitness. There is one important ring missing: Strength. The Rock didn’t get ripped just by standing up once an hour. And both the Exercise and Move rings essentially measure the same thing: cardio.

As any fitness expert will tell you, an effective workout program should combine cardio with strength training. Here’s why strength is currently Apple Watch’s weakness, and how you can use third-party apps to make sure it isn’t yours as well.

This hidden Apple Watch feature tells you if your workouts are doing any good

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It’s not about how far you run, it’s how fast you recover. Apple Watch heart rate recovery data gives you the facts.
It’s not about how far you run, it's about how fast you recover.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

It’s all very well to know how far you ran, cycled and swam. But the whole point of exercise is not just to clock the miles. It’s supposed to make you more fit. So, how do you know if all those sweaty miles are actually doing any good? One way is by measuring your heart rate recovery time.

Fortunately, watchOS 4 provides a reliable way to see this data, and thus monitor changes in your fitness level. Here’s how you can use Apple Watch to keep your workout goals on track.

How to set up Apple’s Health app to unlock its awesome fitness potential

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Turn the iPhone Health app into a dashboard for your body
Turn the iPhone Health app into a dashboard for your body
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If you think the Health app is just another pointless junk app that comes preinstalled on your iPhone, think again. Unlike Stocks, Compass or Tips, it is one of the few apps that Apple won’t let you delete. Set up the Apple Health app properly, and it becomes a powerful tool for getting (or staying) fit.

You see, the Health app lies at the heart of Cupertino’s growing health and fitness ambitions. And with its underlying HealthKit API, the Health app provides the framework that Apple Watch uses to gather data on your daily activity, heart rate and workouts.

But the Health app is more than just a place for storing data. With every iOS update, Apple makes major improvements to it. So, if you still think the Health app is a waste of space, it’s probably time you gave it another look. Especially if you own an Apple Watch. You’ll find it contains loads of useful, well-presented data that can help you achieve your fitness goals.

watchOS 4 Wish List: 7 features we’d love to see

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Apple WatchOS 3 wish Mickey Mouse Face
Here's what we expect from Apple's next big update for watchOS.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple’s WWDC event is less than a week a way, where it is expected to release big upgrades to its family of operating systems. The youngest Apple platform, watchOS, got some serious improvements in watchOS 3. With the fourth interaction, Apple is expected to squash some of the biggest problems while breathing life with new features too.

Full details on watchOS 4 still haven’t been revealed, but we’ve got some ideas of our own that we’re really hoping made the cut this year.

This is what we want in watchOS 4:

 

It’s time for Apple Watch to get serious about fitness

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Here's how Apple could improve watchOS 4 for fitness buffs.
Here's how watchOS 4 could improve Apple Watch for fitness buffs.
Image: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple puts fitness front and center in its advertising for Apple Watch Series 2, even going so far as to claim the device is a “superior sports watch.” But in reality, it is not a sports watch at all. It’s a smartwatch. And that’s a massively important distinction.

Sports watches, like the TomTom Runner or Garmin Forerunner, are cheaper and more reliable at logging workouts, while smartwatches are jacks of all trades, which usually means they are masters of none. Or at least, not masters of fitness.

The sad fact is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Right now, it’s mostly the software that is letting Apple Watch down. That’s why I’m hoping that with its next major software update, Apple will finally get its smartwatch into shape for fitness fans. Here’s what I want to see in watchOS 4, which Apple will likely unveil at its Worldwide Developers Conference this June.

Why Apple should make a cheap activity band (and what it might look like)

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A no-frills Apple fitness tracker could get new users hooked on the Activity app.
A no-frills Apple fitness tracker could get new users hooked on the Activity app.
Image: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

The Activity app is one of Apple’s most important and powerful products. Its three brightly colored rings are changing people’s lives around the world, inspiring individuals to make healthier choices throughout their day.

The trouble is, if you want to use the Activity app, your only option right now is to buy an Apple Watch — and Apple Watches are expensive.

With this kind of game-changing product, Apple usually wants to reach as big an audience as possible. Take the iPod, for example. It was too expensive for some consumers. so Apple released a no-frills, sub-$99 version called the iPod Shuffle. Could a similar strategy work for the Activity app? An affordable activity band from Apple could be a Fitbit killer.

5 stock iOS widgets to keep your day on track

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iOS 10 Widgets
If you're not using iOS widgets yet, it's time to get started.
Photo: Apple

iOS widgets can put loads of useful data at your fingertips. A simple swipe to the right on your iPhone’s Home screen brings up the Today view, where widgets give you a quick glance at info pulled from your favorite apps.

If you’re using iOS 10 and you’ve never taken the time to customize your widgets list, you’re missing out. Here’s how to set up iOS widgets and keep your day on track.

As fitness trackers converge, everyone’s sprinting toward confusion

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Fitbit Alta Fitness Tracker GG
Is it an activity tracker, a sport watch, a smartwatch or all three?
Photo: Fitbit

2016 has been a tough year for fitness trackers, with scientists questioning their effectiveness and headlines boldly proclaiming that “fitness trackers don’t work.”

And yet, sales of fitness trackers are healthier than ever, while struggling smartwatch makers are desperately trying to reposition their gadgets to muscle into the fitness market. So what is going on? If fitness trackers really don’t work, why are consumers still buying them?

Can Apple Watch get you in shape? Here’s what the science says.

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Does the Apple Watch activity app have all the answers?
Does the Apple Watch activity app have all the answers?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If you’ve considering buying a shiny new Apple Watch Series 2, you might be wondering if it can really help you to get in shape. Especially if you’ve seen the recent headlines claiming that fitness trackers don’t work.

So what does science really have to say about wearables? I decided to investigate the science behind Apple Watch fitness assumptions.

How to share, compare, compete with watchOS 3’s Activity rings

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Get set to test yourself to the limit with your Apple Watch.
Get set to test yourself to the limit with your Apple Watch.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch is getting a ton of new features this fall for fitness freaks, giving wearers the ability to not only track their own fitness better than ever, but also go head-to-head with other Apple Watch-loving friends.

With iOS 10 and watchOS 3, Apple Watch owners can share their Activity rings to view each other’s progress and compete to be fittest person in the clique. Here’s how to get started: