Category: Health & Fitness

Google App Now Displaying Pollen Forecast on Your Phone

The Google app for Android has a server-side update rolling out today that brings detailed Pollen forecasts at a glance thanks to the Weather Channel.  The update, much like the weather forecast feature of the app, will give you detailed information about how much pollen is in the air for your location as well as the different types of pollen.  The good news is, you don’t have to do anything to get the update.  Since it is a server-side update, so long as you have the latest Google app on your phone, it will come to your phone automagically.

To get to the new forecast, use the Google app to search for pollen forecast.  Using the location services on your phone, you will see the level of pollen in your area as well as the main type of allergen.  For those of us who suffer from seasonal allergies (Clinton raises his hand), it will mighty helpful in deciding how much time you spend outdoors or if you open up the windows at home.  Or maybe make double sure you take your allergy medication for the day.

Withings Health Mate Now Nokia Health Mate With A Major UI Refresh

Nokia’s acquisition of Withings is now complete and we are starting to see the first changes.  This morning, the Nokia Health Mate app started rolling out to users, updating it from the Withings app under the same name.  The app changes are not just in name or the icon on your Home page.  Nokia has done a major revamp of the UI for the app but all of the features of the Withings app are still there for you to access.

Nokia moved all of the navigation in the app to the bottom, giving you a Home, Dashboard, a Leaderboard for activities you are competing against each other, your devices and your profile.  All of this is wrapped in a beautiful white, Material Design inspired UI that looks much more modern than the last update from Withings.

Review – Withings Blood Pressure Monitor – An Excellent Tool to Monitor Heart Health

Like many aspects of healthy living, understanding your blood pressure and the impact it has on your body is critical.  This is especially true for those with a genetic predisposition to heart disease and high blood pressure.  High blood pressure can have long term damaging impacts on your body that can include heart attack and stroke.  Monitoring your blood pressure and your pulse can be done at home with the Withing Blood Pressure Monitor.

The Withing Blood Pressure Monitor allows you to take your blood pressure at home, leveraging the Withings app on your Android or iOS phone to keep track of it on a daily or weekly basis.  While it is not as accurate as a medical office checking your blood pressure, it does serve as a solid tool to help you understand what you eat, drink, weight and exercise do to your blood pressure.  I’ve been using the Withings Blood Pressure Monitor for many months as part of keep track of my blood pressure as heart disease runs in my family.  It has become an valuable tool, giving me information that I can readily share with my doctor to discuss and make dietary or lifestyle changes.  Here is my review of this great medical tool.

Review – Sleep as Android – Wellness Begins With Good Sleep

Sleep is a critical part of any healthy lifestyle.  Getting the proper amount of restful sleep not only helps with your psychological wellness but also has other health benefits when it comes to general well being and fitness.  Sadly, most Americas struggle to get the proper amount of sleep each night or have poor quality of sleep.  Sleep as Android is an app that allows you to measure your sleep, the quality of that sleep, and integrate that data with apps like Google Fit.  By having the app running on your phone next to you as you sleep, it will track your sleep cycles, see trends and even record noises as you sleep to see if you are snoring or, worse, suffering from Sleep Apnea.

Sleep as Android, however, is so much more.  It can serve as your alarm clock, can play soothing sounds to help you relax and get to sleep and gently wake you up in the morning.  It is an all-in-one app for your sleeping.  I’ve been using the app since the beginning of 2017 as I am focusing on making sure I get the right amount of sleep each day.  It has been an eye opening app for me and has become a daily part of my life as I try to live a healthy – and rested – lifestyle.  Here’s my review.

Fitbit Previews New Dashboard In Latest Update

Fitbit has begun rolling out an update to their app for Android and while it provides a few nice updates, the big news is the preview of the new dashboard in the app.  The preview is not enabled by default but there is a banner that will walk you through what’s new in the dashboard and will enable it for you.  It is awesome.  The new dashboard is a far cleaner design with a white background and dials to indicate your activities, steps and other wellness information.  If you are use to the dashboard on the Fitbit website, this is going to look very familiar to you and has the same ability to move things around on the dashboard, just like the website.

Runtastic Now Provides Music from Google Play Music

Runtastic and Google Play Music have teamed up to provide you curated playlists to listen to within the app.  Now when you are within the Runstatic app and chose the music tab, you can chose different playlists to help keep you motivated during that exercise routine.

Keep pace with Today’s Running Hits featuring songs that are all over 130 beats per minute, embark on a Sweaty EDM Workout, or kick it up a notch with someHigh-Energy Hard Rock; the choice is yours. This new app feature is available in more than 60 countries around the world where Google Play Music is available.

This new feature means that you won’t have to leave Runtastic to start playing your music which saves time but also prevents accidental stops or pauses of your exercise tracking.

Microsoft Band 2 – A Solid Alternative to Fitbit

I’ll be honest: I have an on again/off again relationship with Fitbit.  I’ve been using their trackers for 6 years now and while my first tracker (the Ultra) was rock solid, the two subsequent models (the One and the Flex) have been less than stellar.  I found neither of these tracked exceptionally well and with the One in particular, I was constantly fighting to keep it connected to my Nexus 6 or 6P as the Bluetooth was just not reliable.

Initially, in an effort to find a tracking alternative, I started using Google Fit and my Moto 360 smartwatch to track my activities.  It was, shall we say, painful.  Syncing was not accurate nor were step and exercise tracking.  While Fit has grown up a lot, it still has some growing up to do.  That experiment lasted about three weeks and that was all I could really handle.

Finally I had enough and I decided to step way out of the bounds of what most people consider for a fitness tracker.  I picked up an Microsoft Band 2 and I have to say, it is a solid performing device that is very accurate in tracking your fitness information.  In fact, after two weeks of using it, my Fitbit One is now quietly sitting connected to its charging cable on my desk – untouched and likely not being touched for a while.  I’ve deleted the app from my 6P and moved to Microsoft Health for my exercise and step tracking.

To be sure, the Microsoft Band 2 is not perfect.  It has some things that need improvements, most notably how it tracks stairs and the overall weight of the device.  That said, I’m comfortable in recommending it.  It integrates nicely with Android thanks to the Microsoft Health app (and there is one for Windows 10 users too).  It ties in with other services and apps like Lose It!, MFitnessPal, RunKeeper and Strava, and it has a battery life of a couple of days.  That’s better than most smartwatches today which, in a limited way, the Band 2 can perform for you.

Here is my review of the Band 2 and the companion Microsoft Health app.

Start Google Fit Activities From Your Wrist In The Latest Update

Last summer I wrote a review of Google Fit and concluded that while it was a good start for a health & fitness app, it had a lot of growing up to do in order to compete with other apps and solutions out there.  That growing up process has been happening and happening quickly.  Over the course of the last couple of months, Google has added a significant amount of features and functionality to the app along with integrating with other apps like MyFitnessPal.  The latest update makes tracking your exercise easier by allowing you to do it from your smartwatch and not having to touch your phone.

The updated version of Google Fit is build 1.56.14 for those keeping score at home and it is available now in the Google Play Store.  When you update to this version, if you have a connected smartwatch, the app on it will be updated as well to allow you to start tracking activities.  The app is free of course and if you already have the app installed, the update will come to you via an OTA update.

Google Fit – Free – Download Now

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