As much as we love to spend our free time trekking through mountains or finding great road riding routes, us editors spend the lion's share of our weeks sitting at desks, staring at screens just like everyone else. Our technology is important to us.
For that reason, we closely watched the livestream from Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference keynote Monday—and realized our interest in Apple might not be one-way.
Apple kicked off the keynote with an announcement about its new OS X operating system, which the company named Yosemite. You'll remember that Apple named its initial OS X releases after exotic cats, like Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion. Last year, it bucked that trend by naming OS 10.9—which, if you're like the majority of Mac users, you're probably operating right now—Mavericks, after the famous California surf destination.
Fair enough. Apple employees presumably love to get outside like the rest of us, and it makes sense the company would gravitate toward the national park that's practically in its backyard—and maybe even read our recent national parks package. And, as it’s started to name its software after some of our favorite places, we've made big cats a priority, covering tigers in our June issue.
Okay, okay. All this cross-pollination could have been coincidental. Or at least, that's what we thought until Apple's CEO Tim Cook introduced the new operating system for iPhones and iPads—iOS 8. What's that we spied on the far right screen? Outside's logo and the header of our homepage.
We can't be sure if Cook or Apple's software guru Craig Federighi is reading Outside. It certainly seems like someone in that office is, though, and that the outdoors can allure even people who earn their keep with their eyes glued to screens. To demonstrate iOS's social capacity, Federighi showed how he'd use the software to plan a camping trip to Yosemite with his friends—an activity we're quite familiar with.
Of course, Apple also introduced some other features that really excite us, especially its new HealthKit application hub, designed to synthesize all your mobile health apps. We'll have more on that once we get our hands on the software, but for now, we're stoked one of the coolest tech companies around is showing its love for the outdoors.
So Apple, we love you too. Sergey and Larry, if you read Outside as well, now's the time to speak up.
Hoka’s trademark giant foam polarized our test group. Some loved it, especially the way the rockered sole felt on long downhills. Others hated it.
But all noted how light, responsive, and stable the new rubbery injection-molded midsole material is, considering its elevator-shoe proportions. “There’s more bounce than squish in these Frankenstein midsoles,” one said, although the foam is firmer than you might expect. The upper drew similarly mixed opinions: some found it comfy and secure, while others found it underpadded and boxy.
Try it—you might love it, especially if you’re a hill climber or a long hauler. 12.3 oz; 4 mm drop
Everything you ever wanted to know about your health and fitness is coming soon to an iPhone near you. Or, more specifically, to an app named Health that runs on Apple’s new mobile operating system, iOS 8.
That’s today’s big news out of San Francisco, where Apple announced its foray into health and fitness tracking at the company’s annual World Wide Developer’s Conference.
As TechCrunch explains, Healthkit is “the company’s first real big foray into health and fitness tracking, and Health [is] an app for viewing all that info…the new Health app will combine data from various different health and fitness devices and apps, and make them accessible all in one place.” For example, the app will combine sleep, nutrition, activity, weight, and heart-rate data in tabs on a single screen.
With Healthkit, Apple is not only getting into the fitness-tracking game, it’s also making a push to modernize and mobilize healthcare. As Engadget reports,
Mayo Clinic, a Minnesota non-profit, is already working with Apple on making the software work best for both doctors and patients. In the examples shown today at Apple's WWDC event in San Francisco, Health advised patients of wellness plans set by their doctors and enabled a futuristic approach to healthcare; where doctors and patients interact constantly, in real-time, at very least on a data level.
Apple isn’t the first company to try to consolidate personal health and fitness info in one place. Microsoft launched web-based HealthVault in 2007, and Google followed with Google Health in 2008. HealthVault still exists, though Microsoft has refused to comment on the number of active users. Google shuttered its service in 2012, citing a lack of participation. As former manager of Google Health, Adam Bosworth, told the New York Times, “the service could not overcome the obstacle of requiring people to laboriously put in their own data.”
That’s where Apple Health is likely to succeed while these early services did not. It seems Apple’s app will do all of the work of integrating records and information from fitness-tracking devices, like Apple’s rumored iWatch, as well as doctors. That may make it an easy technology to adopt.
Tech insiders believe the highly-anticipated iWatch itself—a “smartwatch/wearable of some form directly from Apple”—could someday have self-monitoring capabilities beyond those of the popular FitBit or similar wristbands. Think: hydration, oxygen saturation, and blood sugar tracking. Apple hired several health and fitness experts in the past year, fueling those rumors, though the company has yet to make any official iWatch announcements.
A patent Apple filed in 2009 suggests wearables aren’t the only devices that will track health data. Future iPhones may have leads embedded in them that allow the phone itself to track cardiac data, giving users easy access to heart info as well.
For now, we know the Health app is coming. Amid the rest of the rumors, one thing is certain: this year is shaping up to be a big one for health and fitness.
Forget fitness trackers and smartphone mounts. The Runbell is currently the greatest fitness accessory on Kickstarter. Modeled after the classic brass bike bell, this mini finger dinger “solves the vexing problem of running in crowded areas where runners and pedestrians share the same path.”
I know what you’re thinking: “That’s solving a problem that doesn’t exist!” Au contraire, Shark Tank-educated investor, the problem most certainly does exist. Particularly in Tokyo, the birthplace of this invention, where courtesy is a cultural expectation and there are a lot of people on the sidewalk. In fact, the city of more than 13 million is home to the world’s busiest pedestrian intersection.
Tokyo is a polite place where people always stand to the left on escalators so others may walk on the right, and hollering “On your left!” or “Coming through” at strangers on the sidewalk is simply considered gauche.
“Absolutely rude! Would never do that. Runners always try to be ultra careful, slowing right down,” says famous Tokyo GPS runner Joseph Tame. If blocked by lollygaggers, proper etiquette dictates one must wait for a gap or find a way around. Runbell allows runners to scatter human roadblocks, with grace.
The United States could only hope to have such a dilemma of decorum. In our decidedly less courteous country—the land of non-budging escalator rogues and runners proud to announce their approach—the bell still solves the problem of removing pesky pedestrians from one’s intended path. And the added benefits are well worth the $25 Kickstarter price tag:
The unmistakable brass ding will make pedestrians think a tiny, crazed cyclist is overtaking them. Not only will walkers move over, they’ll leap out of the way. Even better: their expressions of astonishment and/or confusion when no bike passes by will be worthy of a new internet video genre.
Vocal communication while pounding out an interval is out of the question. If you can say, “Pardon me,” you’re not running hard enough. Use the bell.
In the event that your Runbell causes sidewalk rage, it doubles as brass knuckles.
Fully adjustable, Runbell also fits over gloves for winter jaunts. As of this writing, it had $10,776 pledged toward its $20,000 goal, with 12 days to go in its campaign.
If you’ve considered investing in fitness technology, now’s the time to fork it over. Because nothing moves slowpokes and dawdlers out of the way like the charming sound of a tiny bike bell. And because wearing Runbell, with its “Runbell Tokyo” stamp, will connect runners in sound and spirit with their respectful brethren across the Pacific.