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25
Jan

I hate step counters, but I’m addicted to counting my steps


samsung step counter gear 2 neo

Wearables. Huge companies are spending millions in marketing to make it seem like you need one. Smartwatches, fitness trackers, smart bracelets, smart rings, and more are just some of the types of wearables you might see. I personally didn’t think any of these items would be useful, but not to be ignorant with my opinion I decided to buy one to find out the truth about living with one.

I had a Samsung Galaxy S III at the time Samsung released the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo. I liked how the battery lasted a bit longer than the competition and how it had an IR blaster so I could control the TV and other IR controlled devices with it. However, I definitely didn’t want to pay the huge price tag for something that could change the TV and send me a few notifications from time to time. Just didn’t seem worth it. Also, the regular Gear 2 had horrible quality camera and even larger price tag, both of which I wasn’t feeling.

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Then Christmas 2014 came around and the Gear 2 Neo was on sale for $99. I ironically happened to get a random $100 cheque in the mail the same day and figured screw it, might as well buy it and see what this whole craze thing is about.

Although the cheque was in my name and was technically my money, in my mind, it was free money and I was only paying the tax out of my pocket. Even if it sucked, I wouldn’t be out too much money, and, of course, if I liked it, it would be a huge win. A week or so passes and my smartwatch arrives in the mail. The design was alright and I liked the buckle, but I still wasn’t sure if it was worth buying. After months of using it I began to enjoy it a little more. The IR blaster was awesome, and I’m not sure I’d buy another smartwatch without one, but there was one other function I never expected to like. That one feature was the step counter.

Before I get in to why I liked it so much let me first explain my thoughts on all of these fitness trackers, specifically the ones that count your steps. I hate to break it to you, but counting your steps is pointless. If you want real weight loss, or want to get in great shape, counting steps is probably the worst way to do it. It’s just not intense enough for any real gains. This is why I was strongly against devices like Fitbit and other step counters. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get a fitness tracker to count your steps too.

As you can probably see from the paragraph above, I did not view step counting too highly. I didn’t bother to test counting my steps, or even setting up the step counter on my smartwatch because I disliked it so much. That’s until the day I upgraded to the Galaxy S6 Edge, and extremely frustratingly, Samsung forced me to wipe my entire Gear 2 Neo to be compatible with my new Samsung phone. It erased all the apps I had, most of which I’ll never get back as they aren’t in the new Gear Store, but also randomly turned on my most hated feature, the step counter.

I had never used the feature and didn’t even know it was on at first. However, one day I randomly got alerted that I reached a 5000 step count goal. Again, I didn’t know it was turned on and thought it was a fluke, but the next day, and day after that I kept getting this notification. Every once in a while I’d hit the big goal of 10,000 steps. I work on a computer all day, so I don’t need to walk too much and hitting 10,000 steps just seemed so impressive to me. The more time that went on the more excited I’d get to see the 10,000 step goal. Then, of course, there are the really busy days where I’d go past 10,000 steps. Every step past the 10,000 mark was like a little victory.

Also, every step past the goal is a new total step goal. I still remember the day I hit over 13,000 steps because it was July 1st, Canada day, and I was writing my article comparing power savings mode v. full power on the S6 Edge. Every day past that day I’d wonder when the next time was going to be where I’d have a chance at beating that previous goal. I came close a few times, but always came up short. Some days I’d see I passed the 10,000 mark and try to walk a bit more than I needed just to try and get a few more steps in. Finally on November 4, 2015, I finally smashed my previous goal with over 15,000 steps! I don’t really know why I walked that much on that particular day, but I finally beat it, and that is all that mattered. I was really excited to finally see a new “high score”, maybe a little too excited. This is when I realized I was addicted to counting my steps. My most hated feature of any wearable was suddenly the only thing I cared about.

samsung step counter goal

One of the biggest features with any smartwatch is the ability to change the watch face. I wouldn’t call myself a watch aficionado, but I do own many different types of watches for different situations, and because of this, always used a classy traditional watch face on my smartwatch. If you get a nice one it really makes the smartwatch look a lot nicer. You can also change the bands on the Gear 2 Neo as well as on some other smartwatches, and this also really steps up the quality and look of them. However, my step addiction was so intense I actually ended up changing the watch face to a Samsung default one that showed the time at the top and step counter at the bottom. Never in a million years would I have ever thought I’d do something like that.

samsung step counter gear 2 neo 2

Within the last year my outlook on wearables and primarily step counters are much brighter than before. Getting notifications is nice, making calls from the watch is cool, and step counting is actually fun. Even if you don’t care about losing weight or counting your steps it is just fun to have an exact number written down for how many steps you took that day and be able to look back at how many steps you took earlier that week. It also reminds you to walk more when your steps are really low compared to roughly the same time as the day before.

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I can’t 100% say that walking more will make you that much healthier or keep the weight down, but it’s obviously going to help a little. However, watching your diet, having an intense workout program, and counting your steps is definitely going to make major changes. All the step counter wearables and smartwatches usually have health apps that can show you if you have been kind of lazy or have been doing a good job. It becomes a game to try and better your score from the day or week before.

Mine connects with Samsung’s S Health app and also tells you your rough distance traveled and calories burnt. Today I walked about 12km (7.5 miles) and burnt almost 2000 calories, which is pretty insane considering I didn’t even do anything special. Seeing these large numbers and realizing just how crazy they are is what makes it fun. For example, burning 2000 calories just from walking is the equivalent of roughly half a medium sized chocolate cake, 16 bananas, 47 pieces of bacon, 285 almonds, 39 entire stocks of broccoli, and so on. Technically I didn’t need the step counter at all to walk this much or to burn this many calories, but it’s just cool to put some statistics to your day.

Also, I find step counters to be like a “gateway drug” into fitness. They themselves may not directly help you lose weight or get you into shape, but they act as an easy first step to get into the fitness lifestyle. They give you that little taste of what it’s like to track things, and makes you pay a little more attention to making healthier decisions. These skills are the most important to have when trying to make serious improvements in your health. They also make it fun as they give you real awards you can see for hitting your goals, unlike real life where nothing happens. For these reasons, I definitely think buying a wearable step counter or turning it on, on your smartwatch is something you should consider. I have had a lot more fun with mine than I ever thought I would.

Smartwatches are pretty cool, but those of you who don’t feel they need all the bells-and-whistles from a smartwatch may still want to check out a Fitbit or other step counting device for tracking their steps. It’s pretty fun to do and requires no effort on your part since you were going to be walking around all day anyways. Mine as well make that more fun and exciting.

Hopefully you enjoyed my story and thoughts on step counting as well as my brief thoughts on wearables. I’d love to hear from you and your thoughts about wearables and/or step counting in the comments. Also, please tell me if you’d like to hear about my thoughts on using a smartwatch for over a year. I think I have some interesting views that others would be interested in hearing, especially if you are considering buying one.

Come comment on this article: I hate step counters, but I’m addicted to counting my steps

25
Jan

Google donates $5.3 million in Chromebooks for refugees


To give some of the millions of refugees in Europe access to education and asylum application information, Google is equipping nonprofits in Germany with Chromebooks. The company announced a $5.3 million grant and the launch of Project Reconnect, an initiative with NetHope that will distribute the computers to organizations working with refugees. Google says the Chromebook has a proven track record when it comes to education, and in this case, it can be used to run learning and language apps or provide access to government info for those seeking asylum.

“They’re automatically kept up to date with the latest features, apps and virus protection,” explained Google.org director Jacquelline Fuller. “And they can be configured and managed by a central administrator (in this case the nonprofits) to offer relevant programs, content and materials depending on the situation.”

Nonprofits can apply for a grant that covers up to 5,000 Chromebooks. The first distribution scheduled for March 1st, but a second round is set to follow after. Organizations working with refugees that are interested in applying for the program can do so right here. Project Reconnect follows Google’s campaign last fall that matched donations to specific nonprofits and the the launch of a Crisis Info Hub that provides details on lodging, medical facilities and transportation.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu]

Via: Mashable

Source: Google

25
Jan

Amazon wants to integrate its services with your smartphone


Just because the Fire phone bombed in spectacular fashion doesn’t mean that Amazon is giving up on smartphones altogether. Sources for The Information understand that Amazon is talking to Android phone makers about integrating its services on a “factory level,” not just by bundling apps. In a sense, your phone would behave a bit like a Fire tablet — content from the likes of Prime Video would get relatively prominent placement.

There aren’t any named manufacturers, and it’s not clear just how far along those talks are. With that said, it’s no secret that Amazon wants a better mobile footprint than it has today. Right now, you typically have to sideload some Amazon services (most notably the Appstore) due to the company’s aversion to some of Google Play’s rules. This would provide an end run around that giant obstacle. You wouldn’t have to lift a finger to use a wide range of Amazon’s offerings, and you might not have to give up Google services (as you do on Fire tablets) in the process.

Whether or not this would work is another story. The Fire phone failed in part because it was focused more on selling Amazon services than actually helping users — if any future tie-in is too obvious, it might turn people off. Remember the dismal failure that was the Facebook-centric HTC First? As much as Amazon might like to dominate your next phone, it might have to accept a more limited presence to make some inroads.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren]

Source: The Information

25
Jan

Apple Releases tvOS 9.1.1 Update for Apple TV With Podcasts App


Apple today released the third update to tvOS, the operating system designed to run on the fourth-generation Apple TV. tvOS 9.1.1 is a minor update that likely includes bug fixes and performance updates to address issues discovered since the launch of tvOS 9.1, which was released to the public in December of 2015.

The new 9.1.1 update can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the Apple TV by going to System –> Software Update. Those who have automatic software updates turned on will be upgraded to the new 9.1.1 operating system automatically.

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tvOS 9.1.1 is available a month and a half after the release of tvOS 9.1. Like the first minor tvOS update, tvOS 9.0.1, tvOS 9.1.1 focuses on under-the-hood improvements, but it does introduce one major change — a new Podcasts app for the Apple TV.

tvOS 9.1.1 comes as Apple is testing the second major update to the tvOS operating system, tvOS 9.2. Apple has thus far seeded one beta of tvOS 9.2 to developers, which includes new features like support for Bluetooth keyboards, app folders, a revamped app switcher, and more.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Tag: tvOS 9.1.1
Buyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

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25
Jan

Deal: Pay what you want for 10 courses in the Mobile-First Developer’s Bundle


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Are you looking to try your hand at application development and design, but aren’t sure where to begin? Getting a start on your career shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, which is why you should check out the Mobile-First Developer’s Bundle from the AA Deals Store.

With the Mobile-First Developer’s Bundle, you’ll get access to ten different courses with 71 hours of content that will teach you what you need to know about Android development, HTML5, mobile app design and much more. The best part? You can pay whatever amount of money you’d like for all ten courses. As long as you beat the average price (currently sitting at $8.75), you’ll get instant access to all applications. Here’s what you’ll get if you beat the average price:

  • Learn Android Development from Scratch – A Beginner-Friendly Introduction to Coding for Android
  • Learn Swift Programming Step by Step – Become a Successful iOS Programmer with Swift
  • Learn to Build Mobile Games Using Unity 3D – Master the Techniques for Building Best-Selling Mobile Games
  • Projects in HTML5 – Build 10 Products in HTML5 & JavaScript
  • The Ultimate Android Course for Complete Beginners – Learn to Build Engaging Android Apps w/ This Project-Based Course
  • Learn iOS 8 Mobile App Design & Make Top Money – Learn Essential UI/UX Techniques from Scratch
  • Create a Native App for Your WordPress Website in 8 Days – Make Your Website Mobile Friendly–No Coding Required
  • Mobile App Design in Sketch 3: UX & UI Design from Scratch – Build Beautiful & User-Friendly Mobile Apps with Zero Experience
  • Monetize Your App: Major Advertising Networks – Add Ads to Your App to Make the Big Bucks!
  • The Complete Android Lollipop App Development Course – Master Android Lollipop 5.0 to Create Audience-Grabbing Apps

Interested? Be sure to head to the Android Authority Deals Store link below for more information.

Buy now from the AA Deals Store

25
Jan

Samsung Gear application for Android updated with battery meter


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To coincide with the launch of the Gear S2 Classic in China, Samsung is rolling out a fantastic little update for its Gear companion application. The upgrade doesn’t bring a slew of changes or any overhauls to the platform, but it does make some modest alterations that are designed to improve a user’s experience when customising their watch.

The most notable addition this upgrade brings is a shiny new battery meter, located in the Settings section of the application. When opened, the meter displays the current battery level of your Gear S2, along with three easy pointers on how to improve its battery life.

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Gear-2

The update weighs in at a modest 32MB, which means that it can be downloaded and installed within a matter of seconds. To fetch it, simply open up either the Play Store or Galaxy Apps on your smartphone, locate Samsung Gear and hit the green Update button.

Come comment on this article: Samsung Gear application for Android updated with battery meter

25
Jan

You can now take a tour around New York’s Guggenheim Museum using Google Maps


guggenheim-maps

Have you been yearning to take a look around the Guggenheim Museum in New York, but haven’t yet had the opportunity or wherewithal to do so? If that’s the case, you’re in luck as Google’s Street View team have partnered up with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to create a virtual experience of the museum’s distinctive galleries, which can be explored from the comfort of your living room using either a smartphone, tablet, computer or VR headset, should you happen to own one.

This project took more than 3-months to complete and entailed Google’s engineers carefully stitching together over 100,000 images that were captured by an array of different drones, tripods, DSLR’s and trolley cameras. The final result is a Full HD scalable 360-degree image, which can be navigated around using the touchscreen on a mobile device, the mouse on a desktop or by bobbing your head up and down while wearing a VR headset.

Check it out by hitting the source link below.

Source: Google

Come comment on this article: You can now take a tour around New York’s Guggenheim Museum using Google Maps

25
Jan

Mobile Fun says this is what the LG G5 looks like


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At MWC 2016, LG will host an event in Barcelona to introduce a “major smartphone” that many expect to be named the company’s next flagship, the G5. Among the changes to its design will be the relocation of the volume rocker to the side while the power button, which will double as a fingerprint scanner, remains on the rear. So it seems that LG is creating a hybrid of the G4 and traditional phones.

Mobile Fun, an accessories designer based in the United Kingdom, says it knows what the G5 looks like and is already designing cases for it. The only problem is that the G5 isn’t a real yet and Mobile Fun admitted that LG hasn’t said anything to them regarding any upcoming phone.

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Here’s what we notice:

  • Camera, LED flash at the top
  • Physical home button with integrated fingerprint scanner
  • Volume rocker on the side
  • Software copied from the the LG G4

When we asked Mobile Fun’s David Byrne about composing a case for a phone that doesn’t exist, this was the answer provided:

“Thanks for the reply. I understand. The launch of these products are based on different sources.”

Wait, so Mobile Fun didn’t get any information from LG? Correct. Byrne pointed to an article from GSMArena to explain the blueprint for Mobile Fun designing the case. If you’re baffled by this, I’m right there with you. It makes absolutely no sense to design a case for a nonexistent device and tell press members about it. Mobile Fun looked at leaks and rumors to make an educated guess.

*eye roll*

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Source: Mobile Fun

Come comment on this article: Mobile Fun says this is what the LG G5 looks like

25
Jan

Apple Car Development Reportedly Stalls as Apple Implements Hiring Freeze


Steve-Zadesky-Apple-CarFollowing the departure of Steve Zadesky, hiring for Apple’s “Project Titan” Apple Car is reportedly on hold as Apple executives are not happy with the progress being made on the development of the vehicle, reports AppleInsider.

Citing a “previously reliable source” with knowledge of what’s going on at Apple, the report suggests a hiring freeze for Project Titan was implemented after a recent progress review conducted by Apple’s Chief of Design, Jony Ive. Executives are said to be unhappy with the project’s direction, with Jony Ive having “expressed his displeasure.”

AppleInsider‘s information is in line with a report from The Wall Street Journal that covered the departure of Steve Zadesky, Apple’s VP of Product Design. Zadesky was rumored to be in leading the development of Apple’s rumored electric vehicle, hiring hundreds of employees to work on the project.

While Zadesky’s departure is said to be due to personal reasons, The Wall Street Journal suggested there’s tension on the Apple Car team, leading to difficulties establishing clear goals for the project. Apple executives have reportedly urged the team to try to meet ambitious deadlines, which some employees feel are unattainable.

Apple has hired hundreds of employees to work on its rumored electric car project, recruiting talent from companies like Ford, Tesla, GM, Samsung, and NVIDIA. Apple may be aiming to hold off on making additional hires until a new leader for the project can be established.

Rumors have suggested Apple is aiming to have its final engineering specifications for the Apple Car completed by 2019 or 2020, but its internal issues could potentially result in delays.

Related Roundup: Apple Car

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25
Jan

iPad Air 3 Could Feature Four Speakers and Rear-Facing LED Flash


The next-generation iPad Air 3 could adopt the iPad Pro’s four-speaker design and gain an LED flash next to the rear-facing camera, according to leaked design drawings shared with French website Nowhereelse.fr. The website cannot fully guarantee the veracity of the sketches, but the report does mention its source has been reliable on two out of three occasions in the past.

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If the design drawings prove to be true, the iPad Air 3 would have two speakers on both the top and bottom of the tablet like the iPad Pro. The inclusion of rear-facing LED flash seems more trivial, since the iPad is not a camera device in the traditional sense, but some owners do use the tablet to take photos, and Apple may be looking for ways to combat declining iPad sales.

Apple is rumored to announce the iPad Air 3 at a March media event, possibly alongside a new 4-inch iPhone and Apple Watch updates. Little is known about the iPad Air 3, beyond a report saying it will lack 3D Touch, but plausible updates could include a faster A9 or A9X processor, Oxide TFT display, Smart Connector and improved cameras.

Oxide TFT display technology would allow for more uniform color and brightness, and improved contrast, on the iPad Air 3. The tablet could also adopt the iPad Pro’s variable refresh rate technology to preserve power when static images are on the screen, enabling the iPad Air 3 to have longer battery life.

Apple has not updated its 9.7-inch tablet since releasing the iPad Air 2 in October 2014.

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