iOS 11.3 arrives with new battery features and more

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Animoji
iOS 11.3 comes with four new Animoji.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The first major iOS update of 2018 has finally arrived, bringing a host of new features and improvements to the iPhone and iPad.

Apple initially released iOS 11.3 yesterday just for the only available to download on the new 9.7-inch iPad Apple. Now the software update is finally available to all users worldwide.

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.

Why it sucks when fitness apps don’t share your workout data with Apple

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Who owns your workout data?
Who owns your workout data?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

The workout data I log with my Apple Watch belongs to me. It‘s not Apple’s — nor is it Nike’s, Strava’s or anyone else’s, for that matter. It is mine. I paid for it with my own blood, sweat and tears. (OK, it’s mostly sweat, but there were some tears along the way, too.) Over the years, I’ve logged more than 18,000 miles of running data and it is something I’m pretty proud of.

So it really bugs me when mega-corporations try to corral my activity data into their fancy walled gardens, like they think they own it. Apple used to be just as guilty of this as all the other workout rustlers. But the folks in Cupertino did a major pivot in iOS 11. They decided to actually put users in control of our workout data. Apple made it easy for apps to share workout route maps with each other via HealthKit.

The trouble is, none of the major fitness apps are playing ball, and that sucks. Luckily, some indie devs are doing the right thing.

Why fitness apps use calories to help you lose weight

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There's no barcode on this doughnut so it doesn't count
There's no barcode on this doughnut so it doesn't count
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Most fitness apps seem obsessed with calories. Go for a run, and your Apple Watch tells you how many calories you burned. Scan a barcode and MyFitnessPal tells you how many calories are in the food you are about to eat.

So what exactly are calories, and does counting them really help you achieve your fitness goals?

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.

iOS 9.3 brings all-new 3D Touch shortcuts

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3D Touch is becoming more indispensable.
Photo: Apple

Everything new (and exciting!) coming in iOS 9.3

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ios-9-3-banner
This is a bigger update than anyone anticipated.
Photo: Apple

Apple released the developer beta for iOS 9.3 today. To the surprise of many, it actually includes quite a few brand new and useful features whether you’re in the classroom or trying to sleep — or both. There are so many new features that we can actually dedicate an entire post to explaining all of them. So here we are doing exactly that.

Note that since today marks iOS 9.3’s release only for developers, it might be a while before the rest of us see the final version show up in the Settings app. But without further ado, here is everything you can look forward to in iOS 9.3.

Why Apple’s Active Calories don’t add up (and how you can change that)

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In Apple's fitness apps, active calories are not the same as Move ring calories.
In Apple's fitness apps, active calories are not the same as Move ring calories.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Have you ever noticed that some of your workout data is missing from the Health app on your iPhone?

Apple’s Health app is designed to provide a central hub for all your fitness apps to save and share their data. You might assume this means all your Active Calories are added together, regardless of which app you use to log them. But the truth is not that simple — although you can tweak some hidden settings to customize what you see.

Sweat sensor could make iWatch most personal device ever

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iwatch

Design questions aside, the true mystery about Apple’s long-rumored iWatch lies in exactly what types of health-related sensors the wearable might include. A recent report claims the iWatch will sport an astonishing 10 different sensors, including one for sweat.

While pedometers, accelerometers, thermometers and every other o-meter Jony Ive can get his hands on might all make sense for a smartwatch, we’re wondering what Apple could do with a sweat sensor? Other than verify that, yes, your sweat glands are pouring out more fluid per minute than Niagara Falls during your jog?

It turns out that adding sweat sensors would do more than differentiate the iWatch from smartwatches by LG, Motorola and Samsung right out of the gate. It could make the iWatch the most “personal” device you’ve ever shackled yourself to, with surprising applications that go far beyond fitness and health.