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.