HealthKit

Why HealthKit needs an iCloud upgrade [Cult of Mac Magazine 353]

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Adding iCloud integration to HealthKit would be a game-changer.
Adding iCloud integration to HealthKit would be a game-changer.
Cover: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Giving HealthKit an iCloud injection would make Apple’s health-tracking framework much more powerful. Will this be the year Apple takes HealthKit to the next level?

Find out why it should be, in this week’s free issue of Cult of Mac Magazine. You can download it now from the iOS App Store. Grab it now and get the week’s top Apple news, including some juicy new bits about what’s coming next from Cupertino’s product pipeline.

P.S. Don’t miss the big Father’s Day Sale in the Cult of Mac Store.

HealthKit needs a health check at WWDC

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HealthKit on iCloud: Apple needs to step up its Health game.
Apple needs to step up its Health game.
Photo: Julia Ballew/Unsplash CC

As a fitness writer and app developer, there’s just one thing I’m hoping to see at WWDC next week: a major upgrade to HealthKit.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Apple’s health-tracking framework is great, but there’s so much more it could do. Moving HealthKit to iCloud would finally set Apple Watch free from its iPhone dependency, launch a brand-new Apple subscription service, enable users to access health and fitness data on all their devices, create a whole new class of TV fitness apps, and much, much more.

Strava finally adds support for Apple’s Workout app. But there’s a big but …

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Strava is ready to play nice with Apple
Strava is ready to play nice with Apple
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Strava is a brilliant app for sharing your workouts and analyzing your fitness activity. But its Apple Watch app is not so great. That’s why I prefer to use Apple’s built-in Workout app and then view my data afterward on the Strava website.

The trouble is, up until now, the only way to do that was by relying on third-party apps such as HealthFit, which provide the missing link that syncs Apple’s workouts with Strava.

Strava has been promising to come up with a solution for years. And this week, the company finally delivered. It’s a huge step in the right direction, but I won’t be deleting HealthFit just yet. Here’s why.

Form’s AR swim goggles blow Apple Watch out of the water [Review]

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Will AR swim goggles replace Apple Watch in the pool?
Now you can check your heart rate while you are swimming
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Fitness tech startup Form launches its first product today: augmented reality swimming goggles.

You might think AR sounds like a bit of a gimmick for swimmers. I certainly did. My Apple Watch already does a pretty good job of logging my swimming workouts, so I didn’t see the need for yet another gadget.

But after testing a pair of Form Swim Goggles for the past month, I’m so impressed that I’ll never use my Apple Watch in the pool again.

iOS 13 wish list: Giving health & fitness a workout

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Will Apple move workouts to iCloud so you can browse them on any device?
Will Apple move workouts to iCloud so you can browse them on any device?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

WWDC is less than a week away and there are already plenty of rumors doing the rounds on what new features Apple has in store for iOS and watchOS. Dark mode, a refreshed Reminders app and a new Find My app all look set to make an appearance.

But will Apple also be giving its operating systems a shot in the arm to improve their health and fitness as well? Here’s my top-ten wish list of announcements I’m hoping to hear during next week’s keynote. These features will get my pulse racing so fast it’ll trigger a heart rate warning on my Apple Watch.

6 Apple Watch apps for an awesome six-pack

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Want a more defined core? Your Apple Watch can help.
Want a more defined core? Your Apple Watch can help.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

For many guys wanting to get in shape, a chiseled six-pack is the ultimate goal. But achieving that iconic washboard look is not easy. Especially as you get older.

Fortunately, your Apple Watch can help you along the way to achieving a tighter core. Apple’s Health app, Activity app and even the Breathe app have a role to play. Here’s how to get a six-pack with a little help from your iPhone and Apple Watch.

Apple brings veterans’ health records into 21st century

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Apple Health Records veterans
It’s a first for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Photo: Apple

Apple today confirmed that the Health Records feature on iPhone will soon be available to veterans.

The company is working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to ensure that, for the first time, U.S. veterans receiving care through the Veterans Health Administration will have access to their health records directly on their iPhone.

Apple hires famous OB-GYN to boost women’s health efforts

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christine curry
Dr. Christine Curry at her old office in Florida.
Photo: Sammy Mack/WLRN

Apple might be planning to come out with some new health features that are specifically geared toward women, based on the company’s newest big hire.

Dr. Christine Curry — an obstetrician-gynecologist that made a name for herself by treating women with the Zika virus — has reportedly been hired by Apple to bolster its women’s health projects.

How to sync your Apple workouts to Strava automatically

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Strava is ready to play nice with Apple
Strava is ready to play nice with Apple
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Your shiny new Apple Watch is great for logging workouts. But it comes up short when you want to review your training progress and share your workout history with friends. Everything gets bundled in the Activity and Health apps on your iPhone, which are pretty basic.

That’s where third-party apps like Strava come in. Strava offers all the essential fitness analytics that Apple overlooks. The trouble is, Strava’s watch app sucks for logging workouts.

If only you could have the best of both worlds: logging your workouts with Apple’s excellent built-in Workout app, then syncing the data automatically to Strava. Well, thanks to a brilliant indie app called HealthFit, you can.

View your medical records from dozens of hospitals on your iPhone

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Health records firm worried policy supported by Apple will hurt patients
Health records firm worried policy supported by Apple will hurt patients
Photo: Apple

The goal of Apple’s Health Records initiative is to enable iOS users to see their medical history right on their device. Hospitals need to share their data for this to work, and Apple is getting a strong response.

When Apple introduced this addition to the Health app in January, there were just a dozen hospitals and clinics participating. That number has grown dramatically in the intervening months.

Rowing with Apple Watch is like two workouts in one. Time to grab an oar.

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Join the crew with Apple Watch
Join the crew with Apple Watch
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If running and swimming with Apple Watch don’t rock your boat, you should give rowing a try. It combines all the benefits of cardio and strength training, and you get to do it in a boat. OK, well you’re probably more likely to use a rowing machine at your local gym, but it’s still pretty cool.

The stats that Apple Watch’s built-in Workout app provides for rowers are very limited, so you might want to consider third-party alternatives. Plus, it takes some practice to develop a good rowing technique. But it’s totally worth the effort. Not only will rowing help build a ripped physique. Without this essential skill, you might one day find yourself up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Parkinson’s disease symptoms tracking is coming to Apple Watch

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ResearchKit
ResearchKit is getting better at tracking Parkinson's disease.
Photo: Apple

WWDC 2018 bug Cult of MacYour Apple Watch will soon be able to track symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, thanks to a new API from Apple.

Details of Apple’s big software updates are still flowing out of the San Jose convention center as Apple dives into the details during sessions. During its session on advances in research and card frameworks Tuesday the company revealed it’s developed a new Movement Disorder API that could be groundbreaking for people with the disease.

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.

Live blog: Apple’s first big product unveiling of 2018

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Apple Education Event invitation
Apple is focusing on students and teacher for its first keynote.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s first big event of 2018 is practically here! Unlike most Apple keynotes, today’s “field trip” education-oriented event in Chicago won’t be streamed live.

Don’t worry. Cult of Mac will be in attendance and we’ll be live blogging everything with up-to-the-minute info on all the new goodies. Not only is Apple expected to preview some new educational software, but we could also see a new iPad, improved Apple Pencil and maybe even a new MacBook Air.

The keynote starts Tuesday, March 27, at 10 a.m. Central time. So save this page and get ready for Apple’s most mysterious event in years.

AirPods Pro! And the cool HealthKit gadgets you haven’t heard of, on The CultCast

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Oview Sperm tester
The HealthKit Sperm tester. Yup. That's a real thing.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

A reliable source says Apple is working on audiophile-grade headphones with built-in AirPods magic. AirPods Pro? SIGN US UP. Catch the discussion on The CultCast. And stay tuned for: How Apple plans to revolutionize healthcare; the cool, weird and wacky HealthKit gadgets you’ve never heard of; and we wrap up with pro-level whistling, rock accordion, and the best actors of all time in an all-new Get to Know Ur Cultist.

Our thanks to Squarespace for supporting this episode. It’s simple to accept Apple Pay and sell your wares with your very own Squarespace.com website. Enter offer code CultCast at checkout to get 10% off any hosting plan.

Cool new HealthKit gadgets can measure practically anything

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Cool new HealthKit-compatible gadgets at MWC
New HealthKit gadgets make health and fitness easier than ever.
Photos: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Mobile World Congress 2018 BARCELONA, Spain — Smart sperm testers, body cavity inspectors, Bluetooth pillows, holographic jump ropes and contactless thermometers. It’s all just another day at Mobile World Congress, where more and more companies show off their new HealthKit-compatible gadgets.

If you want your iPhone to know absolutely everything about what’s going on with your body, these handy medical devices are for you. Here’s what they do — and why they’re cool.

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.

Insurer offers latest Apple Watch for $25 – if you exercise

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apple watch
Health companies are embracing Apple Watch
Photo: Apple

Signing up for life insurance might just be one of the cheapest ways to get a new Apple Watch Series 3 now.

John Hancock revealed today that it is offering all of its new and existing life insurance customers the opportunity to earn an Apple Watch Series 3 for $25. All you have to do is put in the exercise to work for it.

Apple hires top medical researcher to boost health game

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Stephen Friend is the latest medical guru to join Apple.
Stephen Friend is the latest medical guru to join Apple.
Photo: TED

One of the biggest names in medical research has joined Apple and will likely provide a huge boost to the company’s medical efforts.

Stephen Friend, co-founder and former president of Sage Bionetworks, accepted a job at Apple recently, and although the two sides are keeping quiet on what exactly Friend will be doing, he’ll likely be one of the leaders of the company’s growing digital health team.

Apple hires Google X Lab co-founder to work on health projects

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Apple's latest hire specialized at building robotic hands.
Apple's latest hire specialized at building robotic hands.
Photo: University of Washington/Flickr

Apple has added yet another wicked smart talent to its ranks recently by hiring famed robotics expert Yoky Matsuoka.

Yoky was working as the head of technology at Nest before joining Apple. She was also one of the co-founders of Google’s X Lab and is a MacArthur genius award winner.

Weighing the options for monitoring your body fat

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Withings Smart Body Analyzer (left) vs. DEXA, the
Withings Smart Body Analyzer (left) vs. DEXA, the "gold standard" for body fat analysis (right)
Photo: Graham Bower / Cult of Mac

If you want to lose weight, your Apple Watch can help you sustain healthy habits, but it can’t actually monitor your progress. For that you need to step onto scales.

Any scale will measure your weight, but that is only part of the story. Whether you are dieting or bulking up, it is just as important to keep track of your body fat. The trouble is, this is notoriously hard to measure accurately. As I discovered when I bought a new Withings Smart Body Analyzer, if you think you already know your body fat percentage, you are probably way off.

Has Apple Watch helped you get in shape?

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Join the Cult of Mac club on Strava and share your fitness story
Join the Cult of Mac club on Strava and share your fitness story
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch has been on our wrists for just five months and yet it is already having an amazing impact on many people’s lives.

We want to find out how Cult of Mac readers are using Cupertino’s fitness tech to get in shape, so we’re inviting everyone to share their inspiring stories. Plus, we’ve set up a new Cult of Mac club on Strava so you can connect with other readers who are into fitness.

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.