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Sunday, September 15, 2019

APPLE WATCH NEWS

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Apple’s new spring 2019 Apple Watch bands are all kinds of lovely

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Back in March, Apple launched new bands for the Apple Watch. If you’ve been fans of its Nike Watch Sport and Loop bands, there’s plenty to look forward to in the new additions to the collection.
Apple introduced new Sport Bands (ones with the perforated design for better breathability) in new blue, papaya and spearmint shades, along with new Sport Loop straps (the soft breathable bands) in spearmint, lilac, papaya and cerulean.
It also introduced the new Nike Sport Loop with the reflective thread in spruce fog, teal tint, summit white, black and hyper grape (yes, hyper grape). All of the new bands are priced in at $49, and we’ve been fortunate to get our hands on a bunch of them and can comfortably say we think Watch owners are going to like them.
The teal tint/tropical twist Sport Band still has that stretchy fluoroelastomer material with the pin-and-tuck closure. And a recent watchOS updated added full-screen colour faces, meaning you can now theme the Watch to match the band. We also got to try on the spearmint Sport Loop that has the soft breathable nylon weave and hook-and-loop fastener. It has a very similar to feel to one of our new faves, the hyper grape Nike Sport Loop.
The good thing about all of these bands is that they do work with older Watch models too and not just the new 40mm and 44mm Series 4 models. We also tried all of them out on Series 3 (as you’ll see from some of the pictures) and they attach/detach just as easily as they do on the newer Watches.
All of the new bands are up for grabs from Apple’s website now, and if you don’t fancy spending big on a new strap for your Series 4, Series 3 or older Watch, you can always check out our round-up of the best Apple Watch bands too.
Trick out your Apple Watch with these cheap bands

Get $80 off the Apple Watch Series 3 with this incredible deal

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If you’re looking for a budget smartwatch, you often aren’t looking in the direction of an Apple Watch. While the Cupertino company makes one of our favorite smartwatches, it’s usually pretty pricey, not matter which model you go for.
But Amazon’s got a big deal on the Series 3 running right now, shaving $80 off both the 38mm and 42mm Series 3. The GPS version will run for $199 for the 38mm and $229 for the 42mm, while the 38mm cellular edition goes for $299 and the 42mm for $329. That’s a good chunk of money to save, and it’s enough to get you one of those sparkly new spring bands.
The Apple Watch Series 3 really felt like the breakout version of the device, due to its versatility. You’re getting cellular, which allows you to truly leave your iPhone behind as you hit the trail. It also gives you on-device streaming of Apple Music and podcasts.
You’re also getting all the other perks of an Apple Watch: GPS, a heart rate sensor, waterproofing, NFC for Apple Pay, and solid battery life.
Read this: How to set up your Apple WatchHowever, you won’t get the ECG, fall detection, or better design of the Series 4. While you’ll get some of the Series 4’s new watch faces, they are a bit hampered by the Series 3’s design. You also won’t get the complication-filled new watch faces the Series 4 has.
In our review of the Series 3, we called it the most convincing case for a standalone smartwatch yet. It’s a smartwatch that is good at pretty much everything it does – and if you’ve got an iPhone there are few better options.

Apple cancels AirPower charging mat for not meeting its own standards

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Apple’s AirPower charging mat has become a bit of a unicorn for the company. Revealed back in September 2017. the mat has undergone several delays due to overheating issues. And now the dream is dead.
Apple has officially canceled the AirPower, according to TechCrunch. Dan Riccio, Apple’s svp of hardware engineering, tells TechCrunch the charging mat did not meet Apple’s own product standards.
Read this: The best accessories for Apple Watch”After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have canceled the project. We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch,” he said, adding that Apple is committed to a wireless future.
TechCrunch says the previously reported overheating issues did the project in. The 3D charging coils would overheat because they were too close to each other, which required cautious power management. Apple couldn’t figure out, as TechCrunch notes, how to get around the laws of physics and decided to just scrap the project.
Apple initially delayed the project believing it could solve the difficult engineering challenges, much like it did with AirPods. In fact, it appears the decision was made very recently as packaging for the new AirPods featured AirPower on them.
Thus, it appears Apple still had intention to release the mat. There was even some speculation that Apple would release AirPower alongside the new AirPods, which you can get with a wireless charging case. Alas, it seems creating a pad that could charge multiple devices anywhere while also communicating different charge levels turned out to be too great a challenge.
It’s rare to see Apple announce a hardware project that it never ends up releasing, and it’s definitely disappointing for people who wanted a singular mat to charge their iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods at the same time. On the plus side, at least Apple didn’t force release a device with a propensity to overheat.

Apple Watch ECG app brings atrial fibrillation detection to the UK

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Apple Watch Series 4 owners in the UK can now use the ECG feature on their smartwatches, unlocking the ability to identify signs associated with the heart condition atrial fibrillation.
Despite initial concerns that it could take years to approve the Watch feature in the UK, support for the serious heart health monitoring feature is now available, having rolled out to US Watch owners at the end of 2018. Apple says the feature is CE marked and cleared in the European Economic Area with clinical trials showing that the ECG app on the Watch delivered an 98.3% sensitivity in classifying atrial fibrillation.
Essential reading: Apple Watch heart rate monitor in-depth guideAtrial fibrillation, which is also known as arrhythmia, refers to refers to having a quivering or irregular heartbeat. It occurs when erratic or extra electrical signals impact on the heart’s natural pacemaker, causing the heart to quiver or beat faster. Having an irregular heartbeat can lead to a stroke or heart failure.
That ECG (electrocardiogram) built into the newest Apple smartwatch uses electrodes to measure the electrical signals that make the heart beat. Those electrodes are built into the Digital Crown and into the back of the Watch. Using the ECG app, which is now available via a free watchOS 5.1.2 update, users can take a 30-second reading by holding their finger to the Digital Crown.Read this: How to use ECG on the Apple WatchFrom that reading, your heart rhythm will then be classified as either AFib, sinus rhythm or inconclusive. Data from those readings will be stored in the Apple Health app on your iOS device and can be saved as PDF files, making it easier to share the information with your doctor or physician.
New heart health features for old Apple WatchesJust as Apple did with the US rollout of its ECG app, it’s also bringing the irregular heart rate rhythm notifications for Watch Series 1 or later Apple Watches. Harnessing the optical heart rate sensor, the feature will occasionally check heart rhythms and send a notification if it detects an irregular heart rhythm that would suggest atrial fibrillation.
However, it will only do this if an irregular rhythm is detected on five checks over a minimum of 65 minutes. The feature was part of Apple’s recent Heart Study, which included over 400,000 participants to explore whether Apple’s tech could be deemed suitable to detect atrial fibrillation.
Read this: How your smartwatch’s ECG could save your lifeAlong with the UK, both features are also landing in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guam, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
As mentioned you’ll need to download the watchOS 5.1.2 update to your Series 4 to unlock the ECG support. The same needs to be done to use the irregular rhythm notification feature if you’re rocking an older Apple Watch. You’ll also need to make sure your iPhone is running on the iOS version 12.2 to make sure everything is in working order.

Android owners are boosting the sales of smartwatch makers, forecast says

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The Apple Watch is great smartwatch and is selling gangbusters, but it’s only for iPhone owners. Android owners who are looking for a smartwatch have to turn elsewhere, and that may be boosting smartwatch sales now and in the future, according to the latest forecast from CCS Insights.
The firm predicts sales of 142 million wearables, with greater adoption of hearables, smartwatches and smart shoes growing to sales of 260 million units in 2023. That would create a wearable market of $30 billion.
Read this: The best smartwatchesIn 2018, wearables sales grew 29% to 121 million units. Smartwatches and sports watches made up a good chunk of that, selling 74 million units. Apple is one of the best performers in the segment as more iPhone owners buy Apple Watches. CCS Insights estimates that Apple sold 26 million Watches in 2018, a 63% increase. That means Apple Watch accounted for 65% of the smartwatch market in 2018.
Ben Wood, CCS Insights chief of research, says “the Apple Watch has become a halo device for the whole smartwatch category.” Android owners want to jump on the smartwatch bandwagon and have to turn to other manufacturers. Woods points out this has benefited Fitbit, Fossil, Garmin, Huami, Huawei and Samsung, all of whom sold more smartwatches in 2018.
Fitbit’s success with the Versa is the best example of this halo effect, Wood argues, as it hits a good combination of price, brand and product that meets the needs of Android owners. Samsung and Huawei have also seen gains, largely thanks to their strong positions in the smartphone market.
Fossil has led the charge in the traditional watchmaker world, selling 3.5 million smartwatches in 2018. CCS Inisghts says this area has also grown, with many watchmakers on their second generation of smartwatches.
Another large chunk of the wearable market is kids smartwatches. CCS estimates 27 million kids smartwatches were sold in 2018, with 25 million of those in China. New features like video calls and contactless payments for school events and lunches have helped them grow. Sales will continue to grow in China, with CCS estimating that US sales will double as carriers will help push kids smartwatches with cellular connections.
Sports watches are another big category, dominated by Garmin and Huami’s Amazfit label, selling several million units a year. CCS estimates that this will grow to 7 million units in 2023. Fitness trackers, on the other hand, have grown thanks to Xiaomi’s continued popularity in the affordable segment. Shipments have increased from 39 million units in 2017 to 44 million units in 2018.
Smart hearables are expected to grow by leaps and bounds. While CCS estimates only 3 million will be sold in 2019, it says more and more phones lacking a headphone jack will help push sales to 23 million in 2023. Additionally, it predicts the next frontier in hearables will be active noise cancellation, while smarter health features will come later. A lot of this growth, CCS estimates, will come from future iterations of Apple’s AirPods.
Finally, there’s smart clothing. It’s been a segment that’s been talked about quite a bit but hasn’t yet gained traction. CCS predicts smart shoes will act as a beachhead in this, shipping 2.5 million units in 2019.

Apple refreshes entire lineup of Watch bands with new spring colors

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The birds are chirping. The flowers blooming. It can mean only one thing: new Apple Watch bands.
Every spring, Apple likes to mix up its smartwatch straps with new seasonal colors, but this year it’s refreshing the whole lineup of Sport, Sport Loop, Nike+, Hermès and more.
Read this: The best Apple Watch bandsThe Apple Watch Sport Band now comes in blue, papaya, and spearmint colors, while the Sport Loop (that’s the soft breathable band with the hook-and-loop) comes in spearmint, lilac, papaya, or cerulean. All of these cost $49.As for the new Nike+ straps, there’s “Teal Tint/Tropical”, “Spruce Fog/Vintage Lichen” and “Black/Hyper Grape”. Translation: here they are in order.
Those also cost $49. Then we’ve got three new colors for Apple’s Modern Buckle strap – cornflower (light blue), sunset (orange), lilac – and two new Leather Loop options also in cornflower and sunset. These are pricier at $149.
And finally, Apple’s adding some new Hermès straps in Single and Double Tour, which you can now pick up in pink and blue gradient options. Those colors will also match the new gradient watch faces arriving in the next watchOS 5.2 update.Look at them, there. Lovely stuff. You can purchase all of Apple’s new bands on its store starting today, where you can also view all of the straps we’ve mentioned. They’ll also be available to buy in Apple’s retail stores later this month. The new Watch bands arrive alongside a slew of other Apple devices – no one told us this would be Apple Week – including the new AirPods.

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