Instagram brings 3D Touch gestures to Android

3D Touch isn’t just for iPhone users anymore! The same 3D Touch gestures that Instagram integrated into its iOS app following the release of iPhone 6s are now available inside its Android app — and you don’t need a pressure sensitive display to use them. Instagram was one of the first to embrace 3D Touch, […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Tweetbot 4 for iOS Updated With Support for Apple Watch

Tapbots today released a significant update for its latest Tweetbot 4 Twitter client, adding support for the Apple Watch. On the Apple Watch, the default view is the Activity Feed, which includes Mentions, Favorites (soon to be likes), and Follows – the content you’d most likely want to view on a small screen.

From the Activity Feed, it’s possible to tap to view individual tweets to Reply, Retweet, or Favorite, and tapping on a name also leads to a profile where a Direct Message can be sent to a user or someone can be followed. A force press on the Apple Watch within Tweetbot will bring up the option to send a tweet, and composing a message is done via voice dictation.

Today’s update is the second major update to Tweetbot 4, which Tapbots released a month ago. Tweetbot 4, a newly universal app for the iPhone and the iPad, introduced a redesigned look, new Statistics and Activity Views, and support for features like split-screen multitasking on the iPad. A later update also brought support for 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

Tweetbot 4 can be downloaded from the App Store for $4.99. [Direct Link]

Tags: Tweetbot, Tapbots
Discuss this article in our forums

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How to set personal fitness goals with Apple Watch

Apple Watch gives you three goals: standing, moving and exercise. But these aren’t really goals. They are actually more like targets. A real goal is something you want to achieve — an outcome you have in mind that is so important, it motivates you into action. Starting a fitness program without this kind of goal […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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‘Tweetbot 4’ for iOS Gains Support for 3D Touch

Popular third-party Twitter client Tweetbot is the latest app to be updated with support for the 3D Touch feature on the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and it now supports both Quick Actions on the Home screen and Peek and Pop gestures within the app itself.

A hard press on the Tweetbot icon on the Home screen brings up options to create a new tweet, tweet a photo, and view the Activity Tab that was recently added in the fourth version of the app. When a notification is present, there’s also an option to reply to a tweet or a direct message from the Home screen Quick Action list.

Peek gestures, which bring up previews of links, work with embedded tweets, Safari website links, Twitter profiles, and more. A Peek gesture can be initiated in Tweetbot with a hard press, and pressing even harder expands into a Pop gesture, allowing content to be opened from the Peek.

The 3D Touch features in 4.0.1 Tweetbot are available only on the iPhone 6s and the 6s Plus, the two devices that support 3D Touch. Other users will not notice any changes in the app, aside from additional language localization in French, Spanish, and Japanese.

What’s New
– 3D touch peek and pop support in the timeline. We’ll add it to more places in future releases.
– 3D touch home screen quick actions.
– Localized for French, Spanish and Japanese. More coming.
– Lots of bug fixes.

Tweetbot 4 can be purchased from the App Store for $4.99. [Direct Link]

Update: Just hours after releasing Tweetbot 4.0.1, Tapbots has released Tweetbot 4.0.2. Tweetbot 4.0.2 adds the following features:

– You can now swipe back to dismiss Tweetbot’s browser. Feel free to quietly rejoice.
– YouTube links will open directly in the YouTube app, if you have it installed
– Fixed a crash when 3D Touch peeking from night mode, sorry about that

In addition to the above changes, the new version of the app also opens articles in the Safari viewer in Reader Mode if the option is available.



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Google records your voice searches — and you can hear them all

Google is incredibly accurate at understanding voice searches, which makes it super useful on mobile when you might want to find information without using your hands. But did you know that the company records every single voice search you make? What’s more, you can listen back to each and every one. Don’t believe us? Visit your “Voice & […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Pocket now recommends stories you might have missed

Pocket updated its apps for Android and iOS to version 6.0, which now tailors to your interests. The release brings a new Recommendations tab that scans your activity in Pocket and, armed with that knowledge, presents you with new stories and other content you might find interesting. Previously in beta, the Recommendations feature can now encourage everyone […]

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Bellabeat Review: The Leaf is a Pretty Activity Tracker, But the Accompanying App Needs Improvement

There are a huge number of wearable activity trackers on the market, but few of those are directed specifically at women, an issue Bellabeat aims to fix with the Leaf. The Leaf is an activity tracker that looks more like a stylish piece of jewelry than a standard tracker from a company like Jawbone, Nike, or Fitbit, disguising itself as a „leaf“ accessory able to be worn on the wrist, collar, or neck.

Like many activity trackers on the market, the Leaf tracks steps taken and sleep quality, but when paired with the app using Bluetooth, it also tracks menstruation and ovulation and it offers guided breathing exercises to reduce stress when worn around the neck, setting it apart from other fitness offerings.

Hardware

As the name suggests, the Leaf is a Leaf-shaped accessory consisting of a stainless steel backing, a wood base (American Ashwood) housing the activity tracker and battery, and a stainless steel leaf-shaped clip that fits over the wooden portion. With the clip, it can be worn on a shirt collar or hem (less than 2mm thick), and with attachments at the top and bottom, it can be attached to a chain and worn around the neck or attached to a leather loop and worn around the wrist. Both the necklace chain and the leather wrist strap ship with the Leaf.

Size wise, the Leaf weighs 0.64 ounces and measures in at 1.89 inches by 1.18 inches and it’s a half an inch thick. I am petite with small wrists and it fit on my wrist using the tightest wrap setting. It was comfortable to wear on my wrist, but it looked bulky on me.

As a necklace, it’s larger than any pendant I would normally wear and its weight was a little uncomfortable at times, but for someone used to large necklaces, the size will be no big deal. It’s definitely a statement piece. Clipped to pants or a shirt, it was sometimes too thick to be entirely comfortable, but it was something I got used to over the course of the testing period.

The Leaf is versatile, but the versatility comes at a cost. For activity tracking, it needs to be worn on the wrist, around the neck, or on the collar of a shirt, but for breathing exercises, it needs to be worn at the waist, clipped inside your pants. When sleeping, the preferred method is attached to the hem of a pajama shirt.

In any given day, to get the most out of the product, you need to shift the Leaf around several times. That’s not much of a hassle when worn around the neck or on a shirt collar, but when worn around the wrist, the Leaf attaches to a leather wrap that takes time and effort to put on. With most activity trackers, they’re worn one way and can be put on and forgotten, but that’s not the case with the Leaf.

In addition to changing the way I wore the Leaf on a daily basis, I also had to be mindful of keeping it away from water. Since it’s made of wood, the Leaf is not water resistant and can’t be worn while swimming or in the shower. Bellabeat says it can handle sweat during a workout, which I found to be true, but I was cautious not to get it wet when washing my hands when I wore it on my wrist, because the leather band is also not going to hold up to water.

The Leaf uses a standard CR 2032 coin cell battery available at any electronics store, so it does not require charging. Bellabeat says the battery lasts for approximately six months, but after two months with the Leaf, my battery is still showing up at 100 percent. Changing the battery won’t need to be done too often, but it’s a definite hassle. There are four tiny pentalobe screws holding the backplate on, so those need to be removed before the battery is accessible.

Activity Tracking

I compared the Leaf to an Apple Watch and several other activity trackers and found its step counting to be reasonably accurate. When the Leaf was first released, the step counting could be off by quite a bit or recorded inaccurately by the app, but many of the early bugs have been fixed through app and firmware updates. It’s a lot more stable and accurate today than it was a month ago.

The Leaf is generally within a few hundred steps of other activity trackers, and it doesn’t seem to be over or underestimating steps taken. It tended to pick up slightly more activity when worn on the wrist as opposed to worn a shirt, but that makes sense when you account for arm movements. It’s best to wear it on the wrist or on pants – on the collar of a shirt or around the neck, step tracking became less accurate.

It’s worth noting the Leaf only recognizes movement in the form of steps taken. It isn’t able to detect when activity picks up, separating exercise from normal steps like the Withings Activité or Apple Watch might, and it’s not able to record workouts of any kind. Also, while my Leaf seemed to be within a few hundred steps of what my Apple Watch was recording, there are complaints on the company’s Facebook page and in the App Store suggesting other users are having more trouble with activity tracking accuracy.

Sleep Tracking

As for sleep tracking, I initially struggled getting the Leaf to automatically put itself into sleep mode, which is when I learned that for sleep, it’s best to clip it to a pajama shirt or bottom. When worn on the wrist, it won’t always go into sleep mode. Clipped to pajamas, it was better about detecting sleep, but was still unreliable – it couldn’t always tell when I got into bed and often recorded far too much or too little sleep.

While relying on automatic sleep tracking does not work all of the time, there’s an option to enter exact sleep/wake times in the app. The Leaf is still recording movement, so when sleep/wake times are entered, it can then go on to estimate how much light sleep and how much deep sleep was achieved each night.

Incorrect sleep tracking example on left, correct manually entered sleep times on right
Sleep quality estimates with the Leaf and other activity trackers are always of questionable use because there’s no way to determine their accuracy. The Leaf in particular seemed off because it never detected times when I got out of bed during the night.

Wearing the Leaf, the Jawbone UP, and the Withings Activité Pop during one night of sleep resulted in three very different sleep maps. Sleep tracking is useful for measuring how much overall sleep you’re getting each night, but I wouldn’t read too much into the quality breakdowns.

Breathing Exercises

Bellabeat advertises three main aspects of the Leaf: sleep tracking, activity tracking, and breathing exercises to control stress.

Before the Leaf was released, the marketing materials suggested it would be able to track breathing during the day when worn around the neck, determining stress levels, but that’s not how the breathing feature works in the final product.

Instead, what the Leaf does is measure breathing through guided breathing exercises. To use the breathing exercises, the Leaf needs to be attached to the inside band of a pair of pants, resting against the stomach. A breathing session is initiated through the app, where there are several levels of breathing exercises, kicked off with a tutorial.

The app encourages users to spend up to 15 minutes a day doing breathing exercises, and this is a feature I was not a fan of at all. The breathing exercises are guided by a recording giving vocal instructions on technique, instructing users to breathe through their noses while constricting their throats.

I was never clear on whether I was breathing in the right way based on the ambiguous instructions, and at no point was the Leaf able to correct technique. The idea is to breathe throughout the five or six minute exercise, getting a ranking at the end on „accuracy.“

The first time I did the breathing exercise, I earned a 0 percent accurate score. I thought I was bad at breathing, but it turns out the Leaf needs to be very tight against the stomach – the band of my shorts lot wasn’t tight enough. The second time I got a score of 60 percent, but I was never clear on what accuracy represented.

I did several days worth of breathing exercises, but ultimately, I gave up on them. They’re supposed to relieve stress, but I didn’t find them to be beneficial and the act of doing them didn’t provide me with any useful information.

Someone more interested in using breathing techniques for relaxation may find the breathing component of the Leaf to be a useful and beneficial addition to the activity tracker, but it wasn’t a feature I found compelling. I’m disappointed what was originally advertised as stress detection has been pared down to guided meditation. Bellabeat’s website still says the Leaf is able to „evaluate stress,“ but I never received any stress-related alerts or recommendations.

Bellabeat App

An activity tracker like the Leaf that doesn’t have a built-in display relies on its accompanying app to deliver information to users, and the quality of the app has a huge impact on the usefulness of the product.

The Bellabeat app has a pleasing aesthetic design, but even after multiple updates, it’s riddled with bugs and it’s missing a key features. On a near daily basis, it logs me out and I need to log in again, which is an ongoing frustration, and there are frequent freezes and crashes. Syncing is also tricky at times. To sync the Leaf with the app, you need to tap on it, which doesn’t always work. I often need to tap multiple times to get it to sync.

For each day, the app displays activity level, sleep duration, and the amount of time spent on breathing exercises. There are bars to represent each metric, and a tap on the bar displays more information, such as active calories burned, exact number of steps taken, and distance traveled.

The extent of the Leaf app’s ability to show activity and sleep over time
With most activity trackers, there’s a way to view overall activity and health over time, but that’s not a feature in the Leaf app. There’s only a day view and a basic week view displaying simple bars, so obtaining historical data over time is impossible.

The Leaf app offers period and ovulation tracking, but it’s rudimentary. The app has a section for entering the first and last dates of a menstrual cycle and it uses the information to predict future ovulation and period dates. Tracking menstrual cycles and ovulation times by date alone is inaccurate in a best case scenario, and not at all useful for someone with an irregular cycle.

There are a few other features in the Leaf app. It’s possible to set alerts that cause the Leaf to buzz after long periods of inactivity, based on five different preference levels, and there’s a feature for an alarm that will cause the Leaf to buzz at a designated time to wake you up. The buzzing feature of the Leaf is fairly subtle, so it’s only going to wake the lightest of sleepers. This is not an alarm I’d rely on to wake up for work.

Alarms can be set for other things like pill reminders, but alerts and alarms all have the same vibration pattern, making it difficult to tell the reason behind why the Leaf is buzzing.

Bottom Line

The Leaf is a unique-looking activity tracker that’s more versatile than most options on the market, but there are definite downsides that will discourage some users from purchasing the Leaf over other activity trackers.

It’s not a device able to be worn all the time because it’s not waterproof, and the different modes require it to be worn in different ways. Activity tracking is accurate if basic, but potential buyers should be aware sleep needs to be entered manually due to inaccuracies and its „stress tracking“ is essentially non-existent.

The app is also overly basic and missing many features in comparison to the apps from competing activity trackers, and not all buyers are going to like the breathing exercises, which is a major selling point of the device.

On the plus side, the Leaf is an attractive piece of jewelry and Bellabeat is off to a solid start. Many of the problems with the Leaf can be solved through app updates, firmware improvements, and small feature additions, so it has the potential to improve quite a bit over the next few months to become more than just a pretty pedometer.

I would recommend waiting for Bellabeat to resolve some of the bugs with the app before purchasing or pre-ordering the Leaf, and I’d encourage potential buyers to compare it to other activity trackers on the market before making a decision. The Leaf earns a lot of points for aesthetics, but it fails to measure up in functionality for the time being.

Pros:

Attractive, looks like jewelry
Versatile
App is visually appealing
Doesn’t need to charge

Cons:

Not waterproof
Stress tracking isn’t an actual feature
Sleep tracking is inaccurate
App is buggy
No option for tracking exercise
Menstrual cycle/ovulation tracking is rudimentary

How to Buy

The Bellabeaf Leaf is being sold in batches, and the first customers who ordered have already received their devices. Bellabeat is planning to ship out Leaf activity trackers to customers who ordered in the second and third ordering rounds, and is currently allowing new customers to sign up for a waitlist to order during the fourth round.



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Withings’ Activité and Activité Pop Updated With Swim Tracking Capabilities [iOS Blog]

Withings’ Activité and Activité Pop are two of only a handful of activity trackers on the market that are entirely waterproof, and as of today, the two devices are able to be used to track swimming. Swim detection is a feature that Withings has long promised and will be a welcome addition for customers who bought the activity trackers to track their swim movements.

Following today’s firmware update, Activité fitness trackers will be able to automatically detect swim motions, recording a swimming session as a workout as the device does for other activities like running. Activity and workout information is then available for viewing within the accompanying Withings Health Mate app.

Activité Pop automatically recognizes swim. Just put it on, dive in and the watch will log your full session and record calories burned.

Both of the Withings activity trackers are water resistant down to 50 meters, or 164 feet, a feature that many of the popular activity trackers on the market cannot match.

Even Apple’s own Apple Watch is not rated for swimming, but several people have opted to test the waterproofing of the device and have found that it does seem to be able to be used in the water with no consequence. Still, Apple does not recommend that it be used when swimming or showering, unlike the Activité, which can be used reliably in both situations.

Withings’ Activité and Activité Pop can be purchased from the Withings website for $450 and $149.95, respectively.



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How to Troubleshoot Apps Overusing Energy in OS X [Mac Blog]

Even though most developers work their hardest to ensure that the programs you download onto your Mac run smoothly, sometimes, things go wrong. One issue that may arise is an app using an exorbitant amount of energy or memory, causing your Mac to overheat or suffer severe battery drain.

Sometimes, simply closing an app doesn’t do the trick. For example, if a program includes a helper tool, that tool may be the culprit. Closing the program may not solve the problem.

We’ve got a troubleshooting guide for finding out which apps are using the most percentage of processes on your computer.

Check Energy Consuming Apps

If you experience a fast drain on your MacBook’s battery, it may be caused by certain programs running in the background. While you may have intended to run something like Spotify, it is possible that you have a program open that you didn’t know about.

You can quickly check to see which apps are using a significant amount of energy by left clicking on the battery icon in the upper right corner of your laptop’s tool bar. From the dropdown list, wait a few seconds until your Mac finishes collecting power usage information. Any apps that are using a lot of energy will be listed.

You can then find the app by searching in Finder and quit the program. Or, you can right click on the app to open Activity Monitor.

Using Activity Monitor

Sometimes, issues causing overheating come from programs that are overusing memory and CPU. The Activity Monitor provides information on how activities are affecting your Mac based on CPU, Memory, Energy, Disk, and Network.

CPU
The CPU pane can help you identify processes that affect your Mac’s performance, battery, temperature, and fan. Click the „%CPU“ column to sort percentages and see which apps are using the highest percentage.

Individual CPU usage should not be very high. Processes should use less than one percent when not actively in use. Most apps that are in use should not be using more than 10 percent, and that is for such programs as content streaming (like Spotify or Plex). If a program is using a large percentage of your CPU (above 50 or 60 percent) it is probably the culprit.

Memory
The memory pane shows how memory is being used on your Mac. Apps using a lot of memory will affect your startup drive. Click the „Memory“ column to sort memory usage. If a process is using an excessive amount of memory, it might affect the performance of your Mac.

Energy
The energy pane shows how much energy is being used altogether, and by individual processes. Click the „Energy Impact“ column to sort energy consumption. Processes at the top of the list are using the most energy. If a process seems to be gobbling up more energy than you think they should, even when it is closed, there may be a problem with the program.

Disk
The disk pan shows the amount of data being written to and read by your disk. It also provides information on the amount of times your Mac accesses the disk to read and write data.

Network
The network pane shows how much data your Mac is sending or receiving over your network. You can check which processes are sending or receiving the most data from this view.

Quitting a Process

If you’ve discovered the process that is overworking your Mac, you can quit it from Activity Monitor. Highlight the item by selecting it. Then, click on the X in the upper left corner of the screen.

You will be provided with the option to quit the process, force quit, or cancel the action. If you quit a process that that could cause data loss or is being used by another process, it won’t quit. Nothing will happen.

If you force quit a process that is being used by another application, it may cause a problem with its performance. You can check to see if a process is being used by another program by changing the window view. Select View from the tool bar. Then select „All Processes, Hierarchically“ from the dropdown menu. This will repopulate the processes by their main program.

If there’s a process that’s overusing your Mac’s CPU, memory, or energy and you can’t quit it without possibly affecting the performance of the main program it is being used with, the best option is to contact the app’s developer.

If you experience an unusual amount of overheating and your Mac’s fan starts running continuously, or if your battery is suffering an unusual amount of drainage, troubleshoot the problem by checking the Activity Monitor and shutting down processes that are not in use.



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