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iMore’s favorite fitness accessories

When the iMore team wants to exercise, these are the go-to gadgets they love to help get them in shape.

When it comes to fitness, the digital age has really made a difference. Whether it's an app that pushes you to get off the couch, a water bottle that reminds you when to drink, or a set of headphones that act as your personal trainer, you can really get into shape with the help of your technology. We sat down to talk about the different ways tech and gadgets have helped us get into, or stay in shape.

Serenity Caldwell: Twelve South's ActionSleeve Armband

Sure, everyone loves their Apple Watch bands, but wrist-worn heart sensors aren't always the best solution when working out. (The TL;DR: When you bend your wrist, the watch's sensors can be less accurate due to the way they measure your heartbeat.) If you're lifting, planking, or worried about hitting your watch against your weights, it's worth considering Twelve South's ActionSleeve Armband: It lets you move your watch casing into an armband, where your watch can more accurately measure your heart rate when performing HIIT activities or weight training.

I've used the $29.99 ActionSleeve on multiple occasions, including playing derby with it; while it takes a little experimentation to find the right fit for the neoprene sleeve — especially if you're performing an exercise that flexes your bicep — once you get the correct fit it's a fantastic protective way to wear your watch.

See at Twelve South

Lory Gil: Misfit Shine 2

The Shine 2 is a small disc-like device with 12 little LED lights on its face. Those 12 little lights let you know how you're progressing with your fitness goals for the day. They also act as a notification alert when you get a text message or a phone call, or just to give you a nudge if you've been sitting down for too long. The Shine 2 tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, and sleep cycles.

It's also very subtle. It's a simple disc that comes in a variety of colors. You can wear it with the included fitness band, or you could invest in an attractive jewelry accessory that it snaps right into. Misfit even worked with Swarovski on specially designed luxury accessories that fit the Shine 2 perfectly. If you really want to keep it hidden, you could just stick it in your pocket. It's only slightly larger than the size of a U.S. quarter.

The Misfit Shine 2 comes in a variety of disc colors with complimentary fitness bands. It costs around $79.99.

See at Amazon

Luke Filipowicz: Withings Body Scale

I have been on a weight loss journey since the beginning of 2017 and I'm proud to say it's going well. I'm down a full 20 pounds, but now I seemed to have reached a plateau. In the beginning, I lost a pound almost every week, but now it's getting much harder to see progress; that's where the Withings Body Scale comes in to play!

I owe the discovery of the Withings Body Scale to Modern Dad and I couldn't believe I never thought of using a smart scale before. The ability to weigh myself as much or as little as I want and see the progress over a long period of time is exactly what I need to stay motivated. No more stepping on the scale and being disappointed that I only lost a minuscule amount of weight since my last weigh in, and no more worrying about the times I go up a pound or two. All the information syncs to the Withings app instantly and I don't have to think about manually uploading information or hand charting it out myself.

It's nice to know that everyone the house can use it as well. The Withings Body Scale can support multiple users, and once you set up the users in the app, the scale will automatically know who everybody is when they weigh in.

See at Amazon

Daniel Bader: Nomad Sport Strap

This is going to be boring, but hear me out: Nomad's new Apple Watch Sport Strap is amazing. It's robust and durable, attractive and extremely comfortable, and the best part is that the company made its own lugs so you don't have to deal with the weird hybrid look that most sports bands force you to live with when they use Apple's own lugs. Like Apple's own rubber sports bands, this one latches securely using the "Newson" method, and I can't tell you how many walks, runs, and games of dodgeball I've played with the Sport Strap staying snug.

See at Nomad

Mikah Sargent: Misfit Ray

An activity tracker needs to meet a few requirements if it's going to be good at its job: It needs to look good (or, alternatively, be inoffensive or understated), it needs to be comfortable, and it needs to be something you can wear for long periods of time. The Misfit Ray checks all these boxes.

The understated aluminum activity tracker is incredibly versatile and good-looking. Oh, and its replaceable batteries last up to four months. Four. Months. A truly excellent activity tracker needs to be able to track you at all times (or as close to it as possible), and the Ray can do this. It's small and light enough that you can keep it on all day, every day — heck, it's even swim-proof. Save for replacing the batteries once every four months, the Ray can keep tabs on your stats always.

For $49.99 you can track your steps, distance traveled, calories, sleep, and activities. The Bluetooth-connected Ray also includes piezoelectric vibration that you can set to buzz you for alarms and notifications. Thanks to its capacitive touch surface, it can also be configured as a "smart button" that'll let you trigger your camera's shutter button, control music, advance slides in a presentation, and more. The Ray is feature-packed, long lasting, and understated. It makes for a great activity-tracking experience.

See at Amazon

Joe Keller: Apple Watch Sport Band

Sometimes the simplest tools are the best for your needs. I don't exercise nearly as much as I should, but when I do, my preferred activity is jogging. Don't use any of the in-depth fitness apps, either. I start an open-ended run in the Apple Watch Workout app and just start going until I can't anymore.

That's why I picked the Apple Watch Sport Band. If there's something I think that Apple really just knocked right out of the park with the first version of the watch, it's the design of this band. It's comfortable when exercising, easy to use, and it isn't irritating when you're exercising with it for a long time. Importantly, I often find that other bands have a little give unless I wear them too tight, making them less than ideal for exercise. Conversely, the Sport Band keeps the Apple Watch firmly in place without any discomfort.

See at Apple

Cella Lao Rousseau: iPhone 7 Plus

I'll be honest, I just recently started going to the gym regularly, so I'm slowly learning from my gym and trainer pals what fitness tech is worth checking out. On my own, though, I've discovered that the iPhone 7 Plus is a pretty fantastic tool to use while working on yo' fitness!

For one, the iPhone's water-resistant capabilities make me feel secure that I won't accidentally murder my phone with sweat. Also, the music I play through my Apple Music subscription with my iPhone 7 Plus keeps me pumped up and ready to go at all times — shoutout to Kayla Itsines for her Intense Sweat workout playlist!

Additionally, the health app helps me monitor my physical activity progress day-to-day as I make small changes in my life like parking further away from the entrance of the mall, walking to the grocery store instead of driving, and the like.

I'm not looking to be a body builder or anything — I just want a butt like Nicki Minaj, is that too much to ask for?! — so the iPhone's apps and features are perfect for me as I dip my toe into the fitness world!

Mike Tanasychuk: Nothing... no, really!

Call me a Luddite, but I don't believe in fitness accessories beyond those that help keep your devices in place. I feel like fitness trackers and other connected devices make people focus on the metrics rather than simply listening to their own bodies. Sometimes, true progress can get lost in the numbers. Or, even worse, a culture of "good enough" is bred because you're hitting daily goals, and once you nail that mark, it's "time to stop" when you might have more in you.

While many people use fitness trackers for motivation, I believe they're also slowing many others down and preventing them from truly pushing themselves.

So get into the gym or onto the track, pop in your pump-up music if that's what revs your engine, and push until you can't push anymore — don't let a piece of rubber with Bluetooth tell you differently.

What about you?

Do you have a favorite fitness accessory that you think could help us shed unwanted pounds? Put them in the comments and maybe we'll try them out.

How to send someone your heartbeat with Apple Watch or iPhone

Wondering how to send someone your heartbeat with your iPhone or Apple Watch? Here's how!

With your Apple Watch or iMessage, you can send your heartbeat to your friend or family member as a way of conveying a more personal message, which they can get on their iPhone or Apple Watch. And when someone receives your heartbeat on their Apple Watch, they'll get some haptic feedback to go along with it for a little something extra.

Here's how you send your heartbeat to someone using your Apple Watch or iPhone.

How to send a heartbeat on your Apple Watch

  1. Open Messages from the Home screen of your Apple Watch.
  2. Select the conversation in which you wish to send a message. Alternatively, Force Touch on the display to bring up bring up the New Message option.
  3. Tap the Digital Touch button (it looks like two fingers touching a heart).

  4. Tap and hold two fingers on the screen until the heart appears on the screen starts beating.

  5. Take your fingers off of the screen to send. If you're starting a new conversation, tap the Send button.

How to send a heartbeat on your iPhone

Now in iMessage, you can send your heartbeat via Digital Touch. iPhone may not have a heart rate monitor, but the sentiment remains.

  1. Launch Messages from your Home screen.
  2. Tap on the Digital Touch button. (it looks like two fingers touching a heart). If you've already begun typing, it'll be hidden and you'll need to tap on the Show More button to the left to reveal it. (Looks like >.)
  3. Touch and hold down (long press) with two fingers on the canvas

You can hold down for a short or longer period of time. When you release, your heartbeat will be sent!

Any questions?

That's all there is to it. Do you have any questions about sending your heartbeat via Apple Watch or iMessage on iPhone? Put them in the comments and we'll help you out.

April Fools! Have a laugh (or three) at the internet’s expense

Here are some of the ridiculous April Fools pranks and jokes going around this year.

I've always loved April Fools' Day, but the internet brings the insanity of a day where everyone's encouraged to lie or otherwise prank each other to new heights. As a writer covering technology, these pranks can sometimes get a bit out of hand — especially when certain companies have a history of launching real products on April 1 — but for the most part, it's a rollicking good time.

This year, the internet (and its partner in crime, the Internet of Things) has not disappointed: We're collecting some of the delightful — and not so delightful — pranks, jokes, and random silliness on display this morning.

The Best

  • Google is one-upping its 2015 April Fools' "Pac-Maps" prank: You now get to play Ms. Pacman around your neighborhood — no coins needed!
  • Dark Sky's new visual map is 💯 and I hope it sticks around 🤘🏻
  • Duolingo will ❌ teach you how to use 💩 effectively, but boy do I 🙏🏻 someone will. Someday.
  • Reddit's latest experiment in multiuser cooperation involves placing a pixel on a grid and having fellow Reddit users help turn it into an image. Time will tell as to whether it will either be the world's best Draw Something game, or an endless canvas of pixelated poops.
  • Twelve South wants to help you spruce up your AirPods and turn them into actual earrings — or is it "AirRings"?
  • Waterfield Designs toys with a "Zen" case available to block all cell phone reception when you don't want it. (In all seriousness: I would buy this in a heartbeat.)
  • Amazon has won the heart of iMore editor Mikah Sargent's dogs, who are enjoying using the new Petlexa feature to buy endless treats. (Sargent's wallet, not so much.)
  • Forget Bumble or Tinder — when the end times come, you'll be glad you signed up for Apocalypse Mingle, the only dating site dedicated to rebuilding the human race after an alien invasion, zombie outbreak, or, y'know, humans accidentally blowing each other up. Match up your survival skills and be free to survive any and all disasters — natural or otherwise.

The Blergh

  • Way to get my hopes up, Tough Mudder — I would spectate a Puppy Mudder in a second. There's even a mailing list to win a puppy. You toy with my heart.
  • Google Gnome, the company's outside version of Google Home, might be a tad too niche for most users ("that's an indoor request"). Also, it's not for those without a macabre sense of humor.
  • If your dream in life is to listen to Will Arnett comment on the most boring live-stream in the world, you'll enjoy Netflix Live. Otherwise, not so much. (After all, it's already been cancelled by Netflix.)
  • I don't have much to say about Lyft Mono, the company's "thumb" hailer. It's about as bad as the Pokémon Go Plus tracker, which has the unfortunate designation of actually being a real thing.
  • I know gadgets are getting more water resistant, but Think Geek's pitch for the "new" hot exercise trend, the Swim Desk, just makes me think of terrifying ways to electrocute yourself.
  • With all these April Fools' jokes to click through, who has time for TV anymore? Not Hulu, which has rebranded as "Hu" and shortened all its shows to 8 seconds.

Not enough tomfoolery for you? The Washington Post has a good breakdown of the other pranks floating about the web for 2017, and if you spot a new one — let us know in the comments, so that we might all groan about it together.

Kasich vetoes heartbeat bill; bans 20wk abortions to challenge Roe v. Wade

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Mark Wilson)

On Tuesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed the so-called “heartbeat” bill that would ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detectable, about 6 weeks into a pregnancy. Heartbeats can easily be detected before a woman even knows she’s pregnant.

The move may seem like a victory for abortion advocates. However, in the same fell swoop, Kasich also signed into a law a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. And this move is far more threatening to abortion rights in the state and country than the heartbeat legislation. In fact, the law is “nationally designed to be the vehicle to end abortion in America,” according to abortion opponents.

Kasich, who is against abortion rights, vetoed the heartbeat bill because it likely wouldn’t hold up in federal courts. Indeed, the US Supreme Court has long held that states cannot block abortions before a fetus is viable, i.e. able survive outside the womb—which is generally around 24 weeks. The heartbeat bill, essentially a 6-week abortion ban, is clearly at odds with the Constitutional standard. As such, similar heartbeat laws from Arkansas and North Dakota have been struck down in federal courts.

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“Trumpmania” abortion battle begins: Ohio passes extreme heartbeat bill

Enlarge / The bill, passed Tuesday, now moves on to Ohio Governor John Kasich to sign into law or veto. (credit: Getty | Leigh Vogel )

Emboldened by President-elect Donald Trump, Ohio lawmakers have passed what stands to be the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation in the country.

The so-called “heartbeat” bill would make abortions illegal if a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as around six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill does not include exceptions for cases of rape or incest, but it does allow abortions if the mother’s life is in jeopardy.

The bill violates current constitutional standards for abortion rights, and similar measures in Arkansas and North Dakota have already been struck down by federal courts. Nevertheless, the state’s Senate and House passed the bill Tuesday as part of unrelated legislation dealing with how child abuse is reported. It now moves to Gov. John Kasich to sign into law.

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