Apple’s youngest programming language, Swift, received a fairly substantial update with today’s first beta of Xcode 6.3, at least in beta form. The Swift 1.2 beta features an improved compiler that’s both more stable and more speedy, as well as new Objective-C (the programming language that pre-Swift iOS apps were built on) interactions for building more capable hybrid apps.
Here’s what’s new in the compiler:
- Incremental builds — Source files that haven’t changed will no longer be re-compiled by default, which will significantly improve build times for most common cases. Larger structural changes to your code may still require multiple files to be rebuilt.
- Faster executables — Debug builds produce binaries that run considerably faster, and new optimizations deliver even better Release build performance.
- Better compiler diagnostics — Clearer error and warning messages, along with new Fix-its, make it easier to write proper Swift 1.2 code.
- Stability improvements — The most common compiler crashes have been fixed. You should also see fewer SourceKit warnings within the Xcode editor.
In addition to the enhanced and improved compiler, Swift 1.2 also features improvements to the language itself:
- as! for failable casts — Casts that can fail at runtime are now expressed with the new as! operator to make their potential for runtime failure clear to readers and maintainers of your code.
- Nullability may now be expressed in Objective-C headers — New Objective-C extensions in Clang allow you to express the nullability of pointers and blocks in your Objective-C API. You can provide Objective-C frameworks that work great with Swift code, and improve your Swift experience when mixing and matching with Objective-C code in your own project.
- Swift enums can now be exported to Objective-C using the @objc attribute.
- let constants are now more powerful and consistent — The new rule is that a let constant must be initialized before use (like a var), and that it may only be initialized, not reassigned or mutated after initialization.
- More powerful optional unwrapping with if let — The if let construct can now unwrap multiple optionals at once, as well as include intervening boolean conditions. This lets you express conditional control flow without unnecessary nesting.
- New native Set data structure — An unordered collection of unique elements that bridges with NSSet and provides value semantics like Array and Dictionary.
As this is a beta of Swift 1.2 these features are, naturally, subject to change in behavior and implementation, and might not work perfectly out of this preliminary gate. But if you’re in the developer beta program, definitely check it out and see what you can do with these new additions to the language.
An update for the OnePlus One is rolling out today, but don’t get too excited, though, as we’re not looking at Android 5.0 Lollipop just yet. Instead, it’s the CyanogenMod 11S upgrade, which brings numerous fixes and improvements, together with support for SwiftKey and MaxxAudio.
Here’s what OnePlus had to say about the update:
As we continue to improve the camera on the One, there are now three video focus options: auto, continuous, and infinity. Other things that were added include regulatory information, audio output latency optimization, LED overlays, and an ANT+ library.
To start the upgrade, make sure you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network. Then, from the home screen, press the Menu key, followed by Settings. Scroll to the bottom and tap ‘About Device’, followed by ‘Software Update and ‘Update Now’.
For the full changelog, follow the source link below.
Come comment on this article: OnePlus starts rolling out the CyanogenMod 11S upgrade for the One
HTC is no stranger to the mid-range segment, creating some of the most attractive and premium looking devices in the category. When it comes to specs however, HTC tends to leave something to be desired, at least when it comes to display resolution. Thankfully, their latest mid-ranger brings us a true Moto G competitor in every way that counts.
The Desire 826 comes in either white or dark blue and is powered by a 1.2GHz 64-bit Snapdragon 410 processor and backed by 1GB RAM. There’s also 16GB storage with microSD, a 13MP rear camera, a 5MP frnt cam, a 2000 mAh battery and LTE support. The OS appears to be KitKat with Sense on top from what we gather, though hopefully a Lollipop update is coming sooner rather than later.
With the Desire 826 we get a 5-inch 720p display, putting it right on par with the Moto G (2nd gen)
One area we’ve yet to mention is the display, and that’s because it’s worth focusing on by itself. While we’ve seen plenty of Desire phones rock the above specs, most of the time we get quarter HD (or even lower) resolutions. With the Desire 826 we get a 5-inch 720p display, putting it right on par with the Moto G (2nd gen) but also giving it the advantage of LTE, what appears to be a better camera, and HTC’s arguably more attractive aesthetics.
Okay, but in order to really compete with the Moto G, the HTC Desire 826 will need to be priced aggressively, too. Here’s where things get a bit more complicated, as the phone does in fact cost around the same as the Moto G at $190 (NT$5990), but it currently is only launching in Taiwan. It’s unclear if or when the device will hit western markets, and even if it does, there’s no guarantees that it’s pricing will be as aggressive.
Providing HTC is able to launch around this price and comes to Europe and North America, would you consider picking up the Desire 826 over other budget devices like the Moto G? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Apple today seeded the first beta of iOS 8.3 to registered developers for testing purposes, just a week after seeding the fifth beta of iOS 8.2, which is also currently in testing.
The beta, build number 12F5027d, also includes Xcode 6.3 beta with Swift 1.2. It is not clear at this time what the iOS 8.3 beta introduces, but it likely includes several bug fixes. As a .1 update, it may also introduce new features.
Xcode 6.3, included with the beta, introduces a new version of the Swift language. According to Apple’s release notes, Swift 1.2 includes “a number of noteworthy changes” to the language. Xcode 6.3 also includes enhancements to ease interoperability between Swift and Objective-C code.
There are many ways to tell someone that you love them. If they’re not into flowers, chocolates or steak dinners, however, then you might just have to spice things up in the bedroom with an erotic device that’s a little more exciting than a Magic Wand. After all, we live in a sane, mature society that can appreciate two (or more) people getting it on, don’t we? Hell, when the biggest movie release on Valentine’s Day is the story of a sociopath who uses BDSM to coerce a naive partner into doing whatever he wants with her, you know we’re through the looking glass. That’s why we here at Engadget have decided to pull together a list of the smartest, cleverest and maddest ways to tell your other halves to go fuck themselves — in the nicest possible way, of course.
One feature that has become more and more prominent on smartphones is being able to use the device’s LED flash for a flashlight or torch. Flashlights are becoming more and more standard on smartphones, but it is difficult to access them most of the time; some devices don’t even have an option for a flashlight or some have them hidden as a widget.
That is where third-party apps come in. Power Button Flashlight makes it very easy to access your flashlight by allowing the user to press their power/lock button three times in succession to turn on the flashlight. This app does not need root to achieve this, so don’t worry!
Once installed, you can press your power button three times, whether the screen is locked or unlocked and the flashlight will turn on (updated in version 2.2: all changes seen below). From the time using it, it’s very consistent. The only time there was trouble turning on the flashlight was after a reboot or when the phone was on idle for an extended period of time, so that’s expected with any app.
Version 2.2 updates
- Toggle flashlight always with 3 presses of Power button regardless of the screen state.
- Much more stable – you will be able to start flashlight in 99% of time, even if phone is low on memory.
- Configurable minimum interval in which to NOT trigger flashlight with 3x Power press
- New option to illuminate screen in bright white and keep it On while flashlight is running
- Removed option to not start flash when screen is covered (due to high battery consumption on some devices)
When the flashlight is engaged, the only way to turn it off is to unlock the device again and manually turn it off. On the paid version of the app, you can press the power button three times again and it will turn off.
One feature I really like is that there is a setting to enable vibration when the flashlight is turned on. It is enabled by default, so if your phone gets a mind of its own in your pocket and the flashlight turns on, you’ll know right away because it vibrates.
When you are in the app itself, the interface is very easy to navigate. On the main screen there are only four buttons: enable/disable flashlight, settings, purchase premium version ($ .99), and a link to rate the app on the Google Play Store. The paid version gets you the ability to turn off the flashlight by re-pressing the power button, as stated earlier, and it disables all ads.
Once you are in the settings, there are a slew of other options to enable, such as defining the trigger window for triple pressing the power button, shaking the device to turn on/off the light, and disabling the power button altogether.
One thing that I dislike about this app is the fact that when you press the back button to leave the application, it pops up another ad. I understand developers need to make money with ads, but it is just slightly annoying when leaving the app. Having a persistent ad on the bottom is perfectly acceptable. A back button should be pressed once to leave the app, not bring it to another screen.
If you are looking for a very unique and well-performing flashlight app, be sure to check out Power Button Flashlight. It brings a new way to turn on your flashlight without opening up an application or even unlocking the device. Flashlight apps can’t differ by much, but this one adds another feature that you might be looking for.
You can download the app by clicking the link below.
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There is a plethora of apps out there that allow you to customize just about every single thing on your android smartphone without even rooting. That is why we have started the weekly series “Monday Makeover.” Each week we will take one of these customization apps and talk about setting it up, discuss the features of it, and show you how you can make your android device truly one of a kind. This week we are taking a look at the popular homescreen replacement Nova Launcher.
Getting Nova Launch up and running on your phone is fairly simple. Once downloaded, you can tap your home button and select Nova Launcher from the menu. If you are not presented with this menu after tapping the home button, you can open your settings menu and go to the “Home” tab. Here you will see your options for your homescreen and you can select Nova Launcher. After this, you can return to your homescreen to see the default Nova Launcher setup.
You will be presented with the basic Nova Launcher set up: a search bar at the top, two selections for backup and restore (we will talk about that later), a folder, and a few icons. From here, you can basically change anything that you want. I would recommend deleting the blue and red squares from your homescreen by holding and dragging them to the “X” at the top of the screen. We will not be messing with these now.
The first thing we are going to dive into are Nova Settings which is where most of the setup will happen. You can enter this by tapping the Nova Settings icon or long pressing the homescreen and selecting the wrench in the top right corner of the popup. We will be looking at the “Desktop” section of the menu first.
Under the Desktop menu, you will see a plethora of options to choose from and we are going to take a look at the most important ones. Desktop Grid allows you to change the height and width of the invisible grid on your homescreen. If you have a larger screen, increasing the size of the grid will allow you to fit more icons on the homescreen and vice versa for a smaller screen. While you can make the grid large, making it too large on a small screen may cause your icons to be cut off since they each fit into one square. You can also add a search bar and change the quantity of homescreens from this section.
Under the Scroll section, you will find the options to choose the animation when scrolling between screens. There is also the option to make the wallpaper scroll with the screens. Infinite Scroll makes it to where scrolling past the last homescreen will bring you back to the first homescreen.
Under Icons and Widgets, you will the option to put labels under the app icons as well as what color the labels are and if they have shadows. When using your stock launcher, you may have noticed that some widgets cannot be made larger than a certain size. Checking the “Resize all widgets” box will allow you to change the size of all your widgets which is useful when setting up your homescreen.
Under the Advanced label, you can allow widgets to overlap each other. One of the most useful options under this section is “Lock Desktop” which keeps your icons, widgets, and shortcuts from moving when on. Also, you can choose to display a shadow at the top and bottom of your screen which can add a nice effect.
Under the Drawer menu in Nova Settings, you will find all the options you have to change the appearance and behavior of your app drawer. Just like on the desktop, you can adjust the size of the grid in your drawer so you can decide how many icons are on each page.
Checking “Show Pages as Cards” will give your phone the appearance of stock Android Lollipop by making the app drawer appear to be on separate cards instead of a separate screen. It can make for a very cool effect. Background changes the color and transparency in the background of the app drawer.
Similar to the desktop, Scroll Effect changes the animation when scrolling between pages of apps. Transition Animation is different than Scroll Effect because it changes the animation of opening the app drawer (NOTE: If “Show Pages as Cards” is checked, the Transition Animation must be set as Circle). Drawer Style lets you choose between scrolling between pages horizontally or vertically.
Tab Style changes the appearance of the tabs at the top of the app drawer. Menu Actions lets you choose what is available in the app drawer menu. Checking “Label Icons” will display the name of the app below its icon. Under the Drawer Groups section, you can change and add tabs at the top of the app drawer. This is also where you add folders. (Drawer Groups are only available with Nova Prime) The most useful setting in here is Hide Apps (only available with Nova Prime) which allows you to choose which apps are displayed in the app drawer.
Under Advanced, you can isolate tabs so you cannot swipe between two tabs. You can also choose to have the app drawer close after selecting an app and for the app drawer to remain in the same position after being closed.
The dock is the row of icons at the very bottom of your phone screen. Under this menu, you can turn the dock on or off and determine its appearance. Under Style, you can change how the dock looks. Dock Pages allows you to add pages to the dock which can be swiped through like homescreens.
Dock Icons changes the amount of icons on each page of the dock. You can also change the dock margins and how high the dock is. Small Icons shrinks the size of the icons placed in the dock to conserve space. The divider separates the dock from the rest of the screen and can be turned on and off with Show Divider. Label Icons shows the name of the app under its icon but will take up more room.
Under Advanced, you can select Dock as Overlay if you want the dock to be on top of your homescreens. Selecting this also lets you select Automatically Close which will close the dock after a few seconds. These features can be useful when using gestures to bring up the dock, which we will talk about soon.
Under the Folders menu, you can change the appearance of folders on your homescreen and in your app drawer. You can change the way the icon looks by changing the options under the Icon section. Under the Window section, you can change the appearance of how folders look when opened. Transition Animation changes the animation of opening a folder and Background changes the color and transparency in the folder. You can also add name labels under each icon and change the color of the labels.
Look and Feel
Options under the Look and Feel menu can create the biggest visual change to your phone. Color Theme lets you change the overall color of Nova Launcher. You probably will not notice huge changes with this setting but it does show up here and there.
Icon Theme is something that can immediately change your phones look. Here you can choose what icon pack you want to use. You can stick with the stock pack, download some from the Play Store, or even make your own. You can check out some of our icon pack recommendations here. You can also change the size of your icons from 70% to 130% (only available with Nova Prime).
Icon Font changes the font of the names displayed below app icons. Screen Orientation gives you the ability to have your entire homescreen rotate. This can be useful for large screens and tablets, but can look strange on smaller screens and may mess up widgets.
Scroll Speed and Animation Speed can make you phone seem faster by speeding up the scrolling between apps and the animation when opening an app. App Animation lets you choose how apps open when pressed. Under the Notification Bar Menu, you can choose to hide the notification bar, and if your Android version supports it, you can make the notification bar transparent.
Gestures and Buttons
Under this menu, you can add gestures that will open apps or complete actions. Home Button allows you to click the home button to open an app, complete a Nova Action, or open a shortcut. This only works on the homescreen.
Gestures (only available with Nova Prime) can make using your phone easier and more intuitive if you spend the time to set it up. If you have a phone with a large screen, I recommend setting the “Swipe down” gesture to “Expand Notification.” This way, you can view your notifications by just swiping down anywhere on the homescreen instead of having to using a separate hand or juggling your phone so you can reach the top. There are endless possibilities with gestures and I recommend spending some time in this menu to see what everything can do.
Even though you are not using the Google Now Launcher, you still have the option to say “Ok Google” and launch the Google Now voice search. Under the Ok Google menu, you can find the setup for this.
Unread counts (only available with Nova Prime) allow icons to display a number whenever there is an unread notification. This can be useful for missed calls, text messages, and emails. You will have to download a separate app, but the apps are both free and accessible from the Unread Counts menu. You can choose the placement, size, shape, and color of the unread badges.
Under this menu, you can choose to have new apps automatically added to the homescreen or simply put into the app drawer. If you have “Auto-add widgets” selected in your Play Store settings, it will override this option. So if you do not want apps automatically placed on the homescreen, make sure both of those settings are not selected.
Backup and Restore
This menu will be useful if you like to constantly change the look of your homescreen. When you get a setup you like, you can back it up to your phone’s memory and then save it other places if you want to. You can create as many backups as you want. Then you can change your homescreen to something completely different. When you want to return to your original homescreen, all you need to do is select “Restore or Manage Backups” and select your backup.
You can also delete unneeded backups from this menu. There are many sites that will show you how to create certain looks on your homescreen. Many will give you the option to download a backup which you can apply from this menu and it will have the homescreen already set up.
Apps, Shortcuts, Widgets, and Wallpapers
When you long-press on your homescreen, a menu will pop up with several options on it. Nova Actions gives you access to several icons that can make navigating your phone. You can put icons on your homescreen that will open your recent apps, turn the dock on and off, and even start a voice search. Apps allows you to add apps to your homescreen, although I am not sure if it is any faster than dragging them from your app drawer to your homescreen. Shortcuts can be useful for repetitive actions.
If you constantly find yourself going to the same settings option, you can create a shortcut that will automatically open that settings page. You can also create a shortcut that will create a navigation route to a specified place. Widgets is where you can find a list of widgets to add to your homescreen. Wallpapers allows you to change your wallpaper, but it will probably look different from the normal option. You will have several options to choose from so you may want to know where the photo you want is before going here.
With Nova Launcher, you are given the ability to individually edit every icon on your phone. Tapping and holding the icons on your homescreen will bring up a small menu. Clicking “Edit” will bring up another menu. Tapping the icon will allow you to change it to whatever you want. You can also rename each icon to your preferred word.
“Swipe Action” allows you to launch an app, shortcut, or Nova Action by swiping up from that icon. One example for this is having a phone app and setting the swipe action to open up contacts or call a specific contact. This menu can also create another level of usability for your phone.
There you have it. An extensive look at the majority of the options you can find when using Nova Launcher and Nova Launcher Prime. This is one of the most popular and well liked launchers in the Play Store with over 10 million downloads and a 4.6 star rating.
With Nova Launcher, you are able to make your phone completely yours. You can go download Nova Launcher for free in the Play Store and you can unlock all features by purchasing Nova Launcher Prime for $4.99. If you enjoy Nova Launcher, I recommend springing for Prime because it add several useful features. Leave a comment down below on what you think about Nova Launcher and what app you want to see in next week’s Monday Makeover!
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HTC has today announced that its latest mid-range smartphone, the Desire 626, is now available in Taiwan. The handset is available in two colorways — dark blue and white — and will set you back just $190 (NT$5990).
Enclosed in the plastic casing, you’ll find a 5-inch HD display with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels, a 1.7GHz octa-core Snapdragon 410 processor, 2GB of RAM, an Adreno 306 GPU, 16GB of internal storage, a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2,000mAh battery.
The Desire 626 will run the latest build of Android 5.0 Lollipop with HTC’s Sense 5.0 user interface straight out of the box, and will come with support for dual-SIM as well as 4G connectivity for LTE bands 1, 3, 5, 7, 8 and 28.
If you’ve based in Taiwan, like the sound of the Desire 626 and want to pick one up — hit the source link below.
Come comment on this article: HTC launches Desire 626 in Taiwan
In 2015, a simple activity-tracking wearable just doesn’t cut it. Unless, perhaps, it’s cool-looking, or dirt cheap. Being able to keep tabs on how active you’ve been (or not) is certainly helpful; the problem is it’s only one part of the picture. A fitness tracker might know I hustled my way through a 5K run this morning, but it doesn’t know about the waffle-mania breakfast I enjoyed straight after. Some products work around this by letting you log your food intake. I’m prone to “forgetting” to log my meals, though, including the guilty, post-run carb-fest breakfasts. The dream fitness wearable, then, would be one that tracks your activity, auto-logs your sleep and knows what you’ve eaten without you telling it. Enter GoBe, by Healbe, a $300 wearable that promises to do exactly that.
“GoBe You” is the product’s marketing tag line. The idea is simple: a wearable that can provide a complete picture of your daily “health.” A device that can tell if you’ve consumed more calories than you’ve burned (or vice versa), judge the quality and duration of your sleep, count water intake, measure stress levels and more. The idea being it provides you a single number that represents your daily calorie balance (how many over or under you are) based on all the key metrics, and not just one or two. If you’re at all into health, fitness, dieting, well-being or just taking good care of yourself, this probably sounds too good to be true.
Unsurprisingly, there are a number of vocal critics that say it is too good to be true. Healbe’s big claims have been questioned, with many saying that it’s just not possible to measure calorie intake the way the company says it does (more on that later). These boasts even led some people to think GoBe was an outright crowdfunding scam. But, the product is here. It exists. I’m wearing one right now. Controversy aside, there’s only really one way to find out if it works: by putting it to task. I ate in the name of science (well, gadget reviews at least) to see if it can prove the critics wrong.
I’m here to test the actual product, but it’s worth knowing a little bit of background for context. Healbe launched an Indiegogo campaign for GoBe back in March 2014. It raised over $1 million by the time it finished. Many were (rightly) worried about the company meeting the ambitious summer launch window. The product caught the attention of doubters in the media. Automatically measuring calorie intake would be kind of a big deal, so it’s not surprising eyebrows were raised when these unknowns claimed to have cracked it. Healbe says it works by using an impedance sensor that detects fluid levels in your tissue. The theory (broadly) being that as you consume food, your body converts it to glucose, and cells release water as they absorb it. GoBe measures this movement of fluid and uses algorithms to reverse engineer that into a number of calories. For a more in-depth explanation from Healbe go here.
The controversy stems from the fact that several medical professionals think measuring calories this way just isn’t possible. Not only that, but also if this device can non-invasively measure glucose in the blood, then there’s a whole world of diabetics that would probably like to know (and in turn, provide the makers with a life relaxing on a beach in the process). PandoDaily, in particular, took Healbe to task on the validity of its claims (repeatedly), which you can read for yourself in full here. But, there’s a difference between four-minute mile “impossible” and faster-than-the-speed-of-light “impossible.” It’s our job to give the product a crack at proving people wrong.
It’s a wrist-worn device. That much you probably figured out. Unlike other slim, discreet(ish) activity trackers, GoBe is a huge metallic token embedded in a plastic strap. There’s one button, and a perforated top section hides a rudimentary LED display. The bottom of the GoBe has two contacts for charging, and the metal sensors that touch the skin. While wearing it, more than one person told me it looked like a GPS tagging device, the kind you might attach to criminals out on bail. The strap is kinda chunky, and (on my sample at least) the pin is prone to poking out, occasionally catching my skin, or rubbing against my laptop, et cetera. It’s not the most handsome device, but it’s inoffensive, and the dark gray strap can be swapped out for an included, and showier, purple one if you so choose.
GoBe contains three sensors: that impedance sensor, an accelerometer and a pressure sensor. Together, they measure calories, activity and heart rate, respectively. The latter two combine to measure your sleep (i.e., when you’re not moving and your pulse goes down). The data connectivity is done over Bluetooth to your phone (there’s a companion app as you probably imagined). While charging is handled by a proprietary cradle with a micro-USB connection. GoBe is also waterproof to three meters making it shower- and swim-friendly.
When it comes to wearing, it’s not uncomfortable, but the size of the actual tracker/sensor part means it stands out from the wrist by well over a centimeter, almost two at the thickest part. I also found that after showering, it could get a little itchy where the sensors make contact with your skin. If you’ve ever had a similar experience with a cheap digital watch, it’s very much like that. As for the battery, Healbe claims you’ll get three days use out of it when you buy one. However, I was told the one I received was an early version, and had a less-capacious battery. It shows, too. We’ve asked that we get to try the final retail battery, but until we do, we’re just reporting on what we have, with the caveat that Healbe claims it’s not representative of the final product.
The hardware may be a little bulky, but the companion app is slick. Available for both iOS and Android, the app is where you’ll set up your device and see all your stats. The pairing process was relatively simple; the app asks you to switch on your GoBe, and once it spots it, you pair just like any other Bluetooth device. You’ll then be prompted to tell it your vitals so that it can better measure your calories burned and whatnot (based on size, age, gender and all the usual stuff).
Once you’ve taken care of the formalities, you’ll be handed over to the main interface of the app, which includes five sections: Energy, Water, Heart, Sleep and Stress. As you can see, GoBe does more than just measure food intake. Swipe each section’s icon over to the left, and you’ll get a brief summary — total calories consumed, hours slept, etc. Swipe over again, and you’ll get a deeper dive. Below is a breakdown of the information GoBe serves up.
The main section is called “My Energy Balance.” A circular icon at the top serves as a kind of visual shortcut. The circle starts half-filled, and the amount inside will grow or shrink depending on your calorific intake (whether you’re over or under the amount needed to balance what you’ve burned). Below this, in a big font, is the number showing your current deficit or excess in KCAL. Basically, how far over or under your daily requirements you are. Keep scrolling down and you’ll get a macronutrient breakdown (or GoBe’s guess at it). This is how many grams of protein, fat and carbohydrates you’ve consumed. It’ll even give you a number for how many of those you’ve converted back into energy.
Beneath the hard numbers, you’ll find a graph broken down into hourly increments. It’ll show pink upward spikes/blobs when you’ve logged food, and darker declines representing when you’ve burned calories. All of the info in this view represents one day. Swipe right to see your data from the previous days. There’s no option to sort the view to weekly or monthly, and the app only lets you go back over the last six days. You’ll have to log on via the Healbe website if you want to look back further (and still, without any alternative ways to represent trends in your data). This screen is also where you’ll find information about your activity/daily steps.
No medals for figuring out what the “My Water Balance” section is all about. GoBe can’t detect when you drink liquids, so you have to tell it manually. It’s easy: Just tell it your glass size, and it’ll calculate how many you need a day, divided into glasses. Drink one; go to the app; tap one glass; and it’ll go from full to empty. The main screen for this section also has an interactive icon that goes from empty to full as you progress toward your goal. The big number here shows the number of ml/oz needed to go before you hit your target. You can’t manually change the figure it thinks you need. Currently, it tells me I need 3.4 liters (about 115 ounces) a day. That’s quite a lot.
The three other sections let you monitor heart rate, sleep and stress levels (respectively). Each of these has fewer metrics, giving just a broad overview of information. Heading to the heart rate screen, you’ll be able to see your current pulse, and take a blood pressure reading. I found this relied heavily on the base blood pressure metric you tell it on sign up (I had to guess; it’s been a while since I had mine checked). The sleep section will show you when, and how deep you were sleeping, with a few other metrics (more on those later). Lastly, the stress section will tell you how, well, stressed you appear to be. This is gauged based on your sleep, heart rate and other general data (e.g., height, age).
While the software is attractively designed, simple to use and offers an easy view of your personal data, it doesn’t offer you much insight beyond that. There are currently no ways to compare your data week on week, month on month. Nor is there a way to manually enter food if, for example, you weren’t wearing the GoBe while you consumed it. The app also only shows the last six days’ worth of data. So, as I mentioned earlier, you need to head over to the Healbe website if you want to look any further back. Even then, that’s more or less all you can do. There’s no way to export or import anything. These are, of course, all problems that can be solved easily enough. Right now, however, there are some pretty big gaps.
“Tell it nothing. Know everything.” It’s the message you’ll see on Healbe’s website, when referring to its GoBe device. While this is the dream, it’s only true in the minds of Healbe’s marketing department right now. Yes, you don’t need to log food manually. But, you do still need to tell it when you’ve eaten, or else you’ll get no data. In fact, beyond whether the method for calorie tracking actually works or not, this is the GoBe’s biggest problem.
Ideally, you’re supposed to give a short two-second press of the GoBe’s sole button to let it know you’re about to eat. The idea being that the GoBe knows any data from the impedance sensor from that point on, for the next 15 to 30 minutes, will be affected by what you just ate. That’s fair enough, but it rather spoils the idea of it being automatic. I forgot several times in my testing, usually about halfway through a meal.
There is something of a backup plan, but it presents its own challenge. When you open the app (which triggers a sync with the device), if it logged any impedance data, it’ll ask you to confirm whether you were eating or not at that time. The idea is that it won’t miss the snacks you “accidentally” forgot to log, et cetera. The problem is, it’s a little overzealous. Sometimes you have to clear more than a dozen pop-ups asking if you ate at a certain time. Confusingly, these times can even be overlapping. (“Did you eat between 12:00 and 12:25?” “Did you eat between 12:15 and 12:35?” and so on.) When you do this at the end of the day, even with the best of intentions, you forget at what time you were eating that pretzel, or that you had a pretzel at all.
The next biggest problem is battery life. I’m being kind here. Really, this problem trumps all the others, because it made the GoBe almost unusable. It’s only because I have been confidently informed that the retail product has a bigger battery that I am mentioning it lower than the repeated nags from the app about when you ate. I had to basically make a choice: Log my sleep, or log my food. Getting it to last long enough for both wasn’t possible. The battery would run out during sleep, or just before a meal, and you’d need to be near the proprietary charging cradle to quickly top it up. In the end, and for the purposes of this review, I took to leaving it to charge overnight, so that I could start the day fresh. Even then, it’d run out before my evening meal (I eat around 8 or 9PM).
What about the real-world results? Mixed at best. Below are three sample days of food I consumed, manually calculated calories and what was logged by the GoBe.
|Calories:||Manually calculated||Logged by GoBe|
|Meal 3||I just… couldn’t.||
While some individual meals come close, it’s pretty clear that over a whole day, the differences add up. On each given day, there’s a difference of no less than 500 calories — that’s an entire meal. I do have to take into consideration the fact that it could be the manual count that is wrong, and perhaps GoBe is on the money. I tried to be as accurate as possible with weights, and sourcing calories from Calorieking.com. That’s why, on one day, I made a point of going the extra mile, and packed in a lot more calories than usual (mostly via waffles and KFC). The idea was to go to more of an extreme, hoping that the GoBe would follow. It did log more calories for that mega-lunch compared to others, but only just.
Here’s a second issue. That big lunch took me longer to eat. Healbe advised me to push the button on the GoBe again if there was a 15-minute gap in “meals.” I did have to take a break, so I pushed the button again. I’ll be honest: It feels a bit like just pushing the button will cause it to log about 400 to 500 calories. None of the macronutrient amounts (proteins, carbohydrates and fat) really tallied either. This is less important than total calories, but being even less accurate (some meals were almost all protein, and still showed as mostly carbs), it becomes pointless.
This measuring episode taught me another thing: Going back in history and seeing how many calories were logged for individual meals is difficult. You only get a total for the day, or you can work it out by hovering over the graph, seeing all the small amounts logged every five minutes and adding them up. All of this is made worse by the fact that the battery kept crapping out, meaning I’d have to put it on charge again just before a meal (and remember to do so, et cetera). Very frustrating.
How about some good news? When it comes to logging your sleep, GoBe does it better than any fitness tracker I’ve tried. Best of all (unlike the calorie counting), it truly is automatic. It was kinda creepy to wake up, check the stats and see that it logged my entire sleep almost perfectly. Even naps. Unlike most other trackers, GoBe knows your heart rate throughout the day (something else it seems reliable at measuring). Combine this with movement data from the accelerometer (and, dare I say, a guess that people mostly sleep at night), and the device is armed with more robust data to track when you’re in the land of nod.
Beyond this, GoBe offers insights into the quality of your sleep, including worrying data about when you experience bradycardia (resting heart rate below 60), arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and — the more worrying-sounding — heart blocks (a term that covers a variety of conditions). I had a few nights where I experienced quite a lot of bradycardia, and anecdotally (I have no idea if this is related), those were days when I woke up feeling like I hadn’t slept well.
There is, of course, good old-fashioned fitness/activity tracking in the mix, too. Again, GoBe appears to do a decent job of this, logging steps taken with adequate accuracy. Once more, the fact that it has your pulse also means that it does a great job of knowing when you were running that distance, and the impact this will have on your metabolism/calorie expenditure. In theory, all this data would combine to paint a really detailed overview, if the calorie tracking had shown stronger signs of consistency (even being consistently 20 percent above or below would help).
GoBe’s main crime? It doesn’t deliver on its most exciting feature. I sorely wanted GoBe to work. I wanted it to blow my socks off, and allow Healbe to silence its critics, dismissing them as overcautious naysayers. For it to be a Roger Bannister among products. Sadly, when it comes to counting calories, I have no reason to believe that’s the case. In its defense, Healbe claims it will continue working to improve the software, but right now, it doesn’t provide useful enough data. The second problem is that it’s still a device you need to interact with, despite claims to the contrary. You can’t just let it do its thing; you need to constantly tell it if you are about to eat, or remember so you can confirm via the app later. Suddenly, the gap between manually logging your food and using the GoBe doesn’t seem as vast.
On a more positive front, those harshest critics who thought this product was just a scam should have cause to be less quick to judge. It may not deliver on the calorie-counting feature, but Healbe did deliver a product. It’s clearly spent time, money and effort to design something that tries to do what it claims. By all the other standards, it’s not a half-bad activity tracker. If it somehow bridged the auto-calorie part with some manual food-entry options/shortcuts, it might even be able to claw back some merit as a great holistic proposition. At least in the future. But right now, it’s not. There are too many other rough edges for it to deal with. Poor battery life, limited software options and a bulky design could be forgiven if it excelled at something. In combination, however, those flaws conspire to disappoint. Backers who receive theirs won’t have a useless device, but it’s not the panacea they’d bought into.
Filed under: Wearables