The JungleJune 15, 2019
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17min0

Last year came and went with no sign of the new MacBook. Instead, Apple launched the new MacBook Air – which some would argue replaced it. However, because the latest thin and light has been out for nearly 2 years, we’re more than ready for the follow up. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t make an appearance at the WWDC 2019 alongside the redesigned Mac Pro 2019 and macOS Catalina, but we’re definitely hoping it will make later this year.

Looking back, the MacBook 2017 is everything we’ve wanted since the thin and light rebirth back in 2015 – at least on paper. It boasts the powerful 7th-generation Intel Kaby Lake processors that gave it a massive boost to power, as well as the Butterfly keyboard, which is better than ever, despite some persisting issues

Now that we have Intel Amber Lake processors, we would love the MacBook 2019 to utilize these, taking a huge leap over the 2017 model and giving MacBook users an indisputable reason to upgrade. And, hopefully it’ll be as dramatic as the leap the new MacBook Pro experienced.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next 12-inch MacBook
  • When is it out? Later in 2019
  • What will it cost? Presumably the same as current models

macbook 2019

MacBook 2019 release date

None of the most recent reports, rumors or leaks give any idea as to when and if we’ll see the MacBook 2019. Of course, we can happily speculate based on the previous three releases of Apple’s 12-inch laptop.

In 2015, Apple released the first MacBook in April, directly following a March keynote. That’s an increasingly common time for Apple to release a device, but that obviously didn’t happen this time.

However, Apple went all of 2018 without releasing a new 12-inch MacBook, and while we initially thought the blame was on Intel’s 14nm shortage – the Cupertino behemoth had no problem putting out the MacBook Air 2018. 

Furthermore, Apple didn’t showcase the MacBook 2019 at WWDC 2019, which is hardly surprising as this year’s hardware portion of the keynote focused entirely on the new Mac Pro 2019 and its 32-inch 6K Retina display, the Pro Display XDR. 

However, with the new macOS 10.15 boasting new features such as the Apple Music, TV and Podcasts apps (formerly iTunes), Sidecar and Voice Control, Apple could use that opportunity to show off a MacBook that’s obviously designed for entertainment – the MacBook 2019. 

Still, we’ll have to wait until Apple is ready to show the MacBook 2019 off, if it does happen. Don’t worry; we’ll be updating this page as soon as any information comes our way.

macbook 2019

MacBook 2019 price

This is another aspect where we’ll have to speculate based on the current pricing of the MacBook. 

Currently, the entry-level MacBook will cost you $1,299 (£1,249, AU$1,899) to start. Only one more model, with more storage and power, goes for another $300 to 450 on top of that. And, we think that Apple will launch the MacBook 2019 around the same price as these current models. 

There was speculation that Apple will be releasing a cheaper 13-inch MacBook, but that turned out to be the new MacBook Air. 

With the pricing so tight here, amounting to minute differences in hardware between offerings, we probably won’t see a price drop. The only way we see the current version of the MacBook budging on price is if Apple introduces sizable storage or higher power options, which will send the price up, rather than the opposite. 

For the MacBook price to come down, or for Apple to release a cheaper MacBook model alongside more expensive version, compromises would have to be made. Apple could lower the memory down to 4GB from 8GB, but we don’t think that’ll happen, especially because 8GB is standard these days. 

Instead, we believe the only way we’ll see a cheaper MacBook 2019 would be a MacBook with a 128GB SSD instead of starting with 256GB, which might be beneficial to those who’ve already invested in external drives. Considering how much Apple charges for a bump in storage, lowering that amount should equate to a considerable price drop.

We’ll keep an eye out for new rumors and update this article as soon as the MacBook 2019 price begins to crop up as we inch closer. 

macbook 2019

What we want to see in MacBook 2019

All of this uncertainty surrounding a possible MacBook 2019 release is fertile ground for a well-crafted wishlist.

So, while we wait for any kind of official word from the Cupertino behemoth, here’s what we hope to see Apple improve about the MacBook for 2019.

MacBook 2019 keyboard and screen

Throughout 2018, there were plenty of rumors that Apple had plans to design a MacBook with dual screens. One of these screens would be a capacitive touch keyboard. Early 2019, we stumbled upon a rumor that the touchscreen keyboard would have raised glass and haptic feedback, so it will feel as much like a traditional keyboard as possible. However, it’s easy to expect this to raise the price on any MacBook that implements it.

Even if this touchscreen keyboard doesn’t make its way into the 2019 MacBook, it doesn’t mean the Butterfly mechanism keyboard won’t be improved upon – especially after Apple admitted that some of the keyboards in recent MacBooks are faulty and is now offering to repair them for free. 

That’s why we’re pretty sure that the MacBook 2019 will feature the same third-generation Butterfly keyboard as the new Macbook Pro while MacBook Air will have with a membrane that makes it less prone to jamming up.  

More ports, please

One of the biggest problems with the 12-inch MacBook, ever since its initial release has been the all too obvious lack of ports. With just the one Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port and a headphone jack, this port situation absolutely needs to change in the MacBook 2019. Even one additional port will help, so that you can charge while also connect a different device at the same time without needing a dock.

We’ve already seen Windows laptops accomplish this feat. Take the Huawei MateBook X, for instance, with its two USB-C ports, or even the similarly priced MacBook Pro, which has two. Maybe there’s room for a microSD card reader too, though that may be pushing it.

Punchier processors

Costing as much as it does, Apple really needs to put some more power into its 12-inch MacBooks. 

Then again, the MacBook has consistently used energy efficient Intel Core ‘M’ and ‘Y’ series CPUs up to this point, so we wouldn’t bank on seeing full-fat Ultrabook processors, as they’d generate too much heat for the tiny, thin chassis.

Now that Amber Lake Y-series CPUs have been released by Intel, we’d like to see Apple shove these latest 8th-generation processors into the new MacBook. However, at this point, those are essentially old tech already, so again, we’ll just have to see.

We’ve also seen some rumors that Apple is planning on crafting an ARM-based MacBook at some point, and if the iPad Pro 2018 were any indication, we could definitely see this happening. Apple would just have to work out some kinks in getting macOS to run on an ARM system.

It’s also safe to assume that Apple will put its T1 or T2 processor into the MacBook 2019 – as it has with all of its latest Mac releases.

Since the 12-inch MacBook lacks a Touch Bar, it’s safe to assume that if one of these co-processors is implemented, it will be used for the automatic wake and ‘Hey Siri’ functionality that’s currently unique on to the iMac Pro, MacBook Air 2018 and MacBook Pro 2018.

Sturdier build

The Apple MacBook already feels remarkably sturdy in hand, but over time it can become inundated with scratches – even if you are exceptionally careful. Lucky for us, Apple has recently filed a patent that details plans for making ‘indestructible’ hardware, through some unique coatings. This will be an excellent option for a premium device that most users won’t want to upgrade for four to five years, as well as help keep the MacBook looking as stunning as the day you opened it. 

Of course, we don’t know if this patent will ever see the light of day or even get utilized for the MacBook. However, this approach, alongside the improved Butterfly keyboard found in the MacBook Pro 2018, could make the MacBook 2019 a much more durable device, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Stronger audio and video

Speaker performance and webcam quality are two corners that Apple obviously cut when in designing the MacBook. With the MacBook 2019, this needs to stop. Tinny speakers and a sub-HD webcam for a laptop this expensive and designed for entertainment simply isn’t acceptable, and not in this day and age.

Apple needs to simply beef up the webcam up to 1080p, to make it more worthy of its price tag suggests, and problem solved. The speakers, though, are a problem we don’t necessarily have a solution for. Supporting the speakers with down-throwing bass modules in the base might work? Otherwise, stick to your better made external speakers and headphones.

Bill Thomas, Gabe Carey and Michelle Rae Uy has also contributed to this report

Image Credit: TechRadar

  • These are the best Macs that 2019 has to offer so far

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The JungleJune 15, 2019
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3min0

Amazon

Spark’s gone out.


Getty Images

Amazon appears to have closed down its Spark social networking platform. The closure comes less than two years since Amazon launched Spark as its social media play back in July 2017. Spark was focused on users posting images, stories and ideas about products and purchases, and was originally launched only for Amazon Prime members. Other users could then react with “smiles” and comments.

Much like Instagram shopping now, Spark users could also tag products in their posts that were available on Amazon, allowing others to then purchase those products by tapping on the image.

“Whether you’re looking for inspiration for home décor or seeking advice for the best long-distance running shoes, Spark makes it easy to discover — and shop — stories and ideas from a community that likes what you like,” Amazon said in an introduction to the service in 2017.

But Googling Amazon Spark and clicking on the Amazon link now simply takes you to your recently viewed items and featured recommendations on Amazon, while typing amazon.com/spark into your web browser brings up a page called #FoundItOnAmazon.

Spark has also disappeared from the Amazon app, TechCrunch reported earlier.

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The JungleJune 14, 2019
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8min0

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican officials blocked Walmart Inc’s deal to buy delivery app Cornershop because Walmart could not guarantee a level playing field for rival retailers, whose customers use the app to order groceries and other goods, according to an official document and an interview with the top competition regulator this week.

FILE PHOTO: The Walmart logo in New York, U.S., May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Cornershop operates in Mexico and Chile, promoting the app as providing delivery of “groceries to your front door in one hour” from retailers including Costco Wholesale Corp, Chedraui and Walmart. It charges retail chains a commission for its services.

Walmart had struck a deal to buy the popular app for $225 million in a bid to boost its e-commerce ambitions in Mexico, one of the retailer’s priority markets, and better compete with Amazon.com online.

The deal would have put Walmart in the unusual position of owning an online platform selling its own merchandise alongside goods sold by rivals, with potential access to data about orders placed with competitors.

That raised a red flag for the regulator in Mexico, where Walmart’s Walmex unit is already a dominant bricks-and-mortar retailer. Walmex operates 2,459 stores in Mexico, and is the country’s largest supermarket chain by far.

After months of analysis, Mexico’s Federal Economic Competition Commission (Cofece) last week opposed the deal, saying Walmart and Cornershop could “displace” competitors.

“It all has to do with Walmart’s size,” Cofece’s president, Alejandra Palacios, told Reuters in an interview at the regulator’s headquarters. “If you’re going to discriminate against or help one of the parties, you’re usually going to help the big one.”

A 92-page resolution, obtained independently by Reuters ahead of publication, underlines the depth of Cofece’s worries about the deal, which now likely will be tough for Walmart to revive.

Walmart made a number of proposals to address Cofece’s concerns, including not allowing overlapping board members between Walmart and Cornershop, according to the document. The commission rebuffed the attempts as too weak to guarantee they could be carried out properly.

“It is not clear to the commission that there would be independence between the Cornershop MX business and the interests of Walmart,” the document says. “Walmart has incentives to favor its supermarkets and price clubs or bestow unfavorable treatment to its competitors.”

Walmart has said it is analyzing how to respond to Cofece and that the deal would be positive for consumers and competition. The retailer declined to comment on Cofece’s findings in the document and comments from Palacios when contacted by Reuters.

The surprise denial could hurt Walmart’s ambitions for online supremacy in Mexico, its largest market outside the United States by store count.

Although Walmart rakes in nearly 60 percent of Mexico’s total supermarket sales, it does only about 1 percent of those sales online.

The threat of Amazon’s encroaching on Walmart’s territory began to loom larger in Mexico last year, when the online powerhouse launched deliveries of non-perishable groceries like beer and coffee.

Cofece’s denial also likely dashed Walmart’s hopes that Cornershop could serve as a model in its global quest to quickly deliver household products and fresh foods to shoppers’ homes.

In the United States, Walmart has struggled to get some of its delivery partnerships with third-party companies to work. For example, Walmart in the past year has ditched its grocery-delivery partnerships with Uber, Lyft and Google-backed Deliv, and has struggled to get its employees to deliver groceries, although it announced last week a revival of a service to use its own workers to deliver groceries straight to customers’ refrigerators.

It has had stumbles in the online realm. Walmart on Wednesday said it would overhaul start-up Jet.com, which it acquired in 2016 for over $3 billion, in a move that will reduce the unit’s scope and importance.

MARKET RISKS

Palacios said the Mexico deal could have hindered business for both supermarket and delivery app competitors, given Walmart’s potential to control Cornershop’s terms. For example, she said, Walmart could deliver fresh fruit in its own orders but rotten fruit from other stores.

In addition, Walmart might have used data from other stores on shopper habits for its own benefit, she said, and it might harm other delivery apps by choosing not to participate on them, in favor of Cornershop.

Palacios said Walmart’s proposals to resolve Cofece’s concerns would have been difficult to enforce.

“We didn’t think they were strong enough to mitigate the risks,” she said.

According to the Cofece document, Walmart and Cornershop said Cornershop board members, executives and staff would not be allowed to use store data to benefit Walmart. Cofece responded that the burden should fall on both companies to prevent leaks, not just one.

The commission requested information from delivery apps Rappi and Mercadoni, plus grocers Soriana, La Comer, Chedraui and Costco, to complete its analysis, according to the document.

Palacios declined to comment when asked if Cofece saw Amazon as a competitor to Walmart or Cornershop.

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Christian Plumb and Leslie Adler

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The JungleJune 14, 2019
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22min0

Nintendo had a very strong showing at E3 2019 – somehow without even being at the expo. Thanks to its hugely popular Nintendo Direct livestreams, the house of Mario has managed to continue gripping gamers and gaming press alike with its joyful and nostalgic roster of titles – and this year it really knocked it out of the park.

Two years into the Nintendo Switch‘s lifespan, there are still massive mainline franchises pulling out the stops. We may not have got more details about the rumored Switch console upgrades coming later in the year, but there was still plenty for us to chew on: fantastic-looking new games, significant updates to existing favorites, smart ports and remakes, as well as at least one bombshell sequel.

So what did Nintendo have on show? We’ve collated all of the most exciting game trailers and new announcements below – from Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Pokemon Sword and Shield to a whole load of Zelda titles in the works. 

There’s plenty we didn’t see, to be far: no sign of the delayed Metroid Prime 4, or the soon-to-be-released Mario Maker 2. But for an expo that largely exists to create hype around new and upcoming releases, we’re certainly excited about what we saw.

An (unnamed) Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel

It was the final mic-drop moment of Nintendo’s E3 live stream, but what a moment it was. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn’t getting more DLC – it’s getting a whole new sequel.

At this stage, there’s no name or release date to go on (we’ll just have to call it The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 for now), just a momentary clip instead. It showed Zelda and Link exploring beneath Hyrule Castle, before encountering a resurrected warrior foe – potentially an undead Gannondorf. The camera cuts to a view of Hyrule Castle from a distant location. There’s a ground-shaking quake, Hyrule Castle is engulfed in dust. And that’s it.

Very much looking to be in keeping with the new Zelda formula laid down by Breath of the Wild, this could be this generation’s Majora’s Mask.

Luigi’s Mansion 3

You may not be afraid of no ghost, but Luigi still is. We got an extended look at Luigi’s Mansion 3 during the Nintendo livestream, which introduced us to a few new mechanics for the game. Namely, it’s looking like it’ll be a much more kinetic outing for the scaredy-cat plumber, who will be able to use his ghost-catching vacuum cleaner thing to slam spectors against walls, while also doing an area-of-effect air blast. On the floor at E3 we got to play through tons of content from the trailer (seen below) and made it to our first boss battle with the King Ghost. 

There’s also a new multiplayer mode announced for the game called ScareScraper, letting you compete for ghost-hunting prowess against your buddies, as well as a co-op mode that introduces a new character called “Gooigi”. Imagine a Flubber-fied version of Luigi, and you’re there, with the green gooey version of Luigi able to walk on spikes and squeeze through fences like a friendly T-1000 terminator. He’ll also be the secondary character couch co-op players get to play as. 

Sadly, there’s still no firm release date for Luigi’s Mansion 3 beyond “2019”. We’ll keep you posted.

We knew the remake of the GameBoy classic, Link’s Awakening, was going to be at E3 2019 but we didn’t know how much fun we’d have with it. In a 15-minute demo with the game we were able to get our trusty sword from the beach, trudge through the mysterious forest and battle the first dungeon’s mini-boss, Rolling Bones. 

Still keeping to that top-down style that the series was once so famous for (but with a new, modernised, Pixar-like art style), Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch has now been revealed to have a build-your-own dungeon mode. Drag-and-drop tiles will let you build new challenges within the game – here’s hoping there’s an online element so that you can share them with your friends.

The Witcher 3 for Nintendo Switch

Someone had better send a demon hunter to Nintendo HQ – there must be some sort of dark magic being cast in order to make The Witcher 3 run on the Nintendo Switch. But monster hunter Geralt is indeed headed to the hybrid console, both in its docked and on-to-go handheld modes.

It’s the complete edition of the game, including all its expansion packs, and while the lengthy, engrossing adventure is perfect for mobile play-anywhere sessions, we’re still stumped as to how they’re going to make it work on relatively underpowered hardware. We can’t wait to see it in action for ourselves.

Pokémon Sword and Shield

We’ve seen a lot about Pokémon Sword and Shield, which is coming to Nintendo Switch November 15, 2019. The hype is high, the release date is soon, but Nintendo doesn’t have much more to show off than it did during its Sword and Shield-dedicated Nintendo Direct presentation released a week before E3 2019.

Our demo at E3 gave us a taste of the Galar region that players will be exploring, and specifically showed off the vaunted ‘Dynamax’ feature that temporarily evolves your Pokémon to colossal size and power. We took on the Water Gym Leader Nessa in a huge arena in front of cheering crowds using an oversized Grookie and, in the end of the demo, got out first badge.

The only thing missing from that demo was a look at the legendary Pokémon that give this generation its name, Zacian (sword) and Zamazenta (shield). But there’s always a chance Nintendo will put out a demo before the game’s launch in November.

Panzer Dragoon

Panzer Dragoon originally came out for the Sega Saturn in 1995, which tells you how iconic the game has become as the only title from that doomed console to be remembered so fondly. The game has been completely remade for a Switch release later in 2019.

The original Panzer Dragoon perched the player on the back of a dragon and gave them a gun. It’s a rail shooter on a dragon. Need we say more? Okay, the game didn’t just make its bones on then-novel 3D gameplay – its vibrant world and lore captured players’ imaginations, too. We knew the game was being remade by Polish publisher Forever Entertainment, but didn’t know the Switch would be included in its release plans.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

The Marvel’s Avengers game from Square Enix made plenty of waves, sure, but Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: the Black Order deserves plenty of attention too. You’ll be able to play as one of countless characters from across the rich Marvel universe in an interesting-looking action RPG. Plus, we got to see Magneto wielding an Infinity Stone, and we can’t wait to see how that pans out. 

Luckily, we only have to wait until July 19 to get our hands on it… not that it stopped us from playing it at E3 2019. In a short demo three of our editors were able to team up, taking control of Wolverine, Captain America and Storm, while battling through Hand forces in Hell’s Kitchen. 

We didn’t get to see the complete list of characters coming to the game, but if you’re a fan of non-Avengers Marvel lineups like the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, keep an eye out for the Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order season pass that will have tons of cool characters.

Banjo-Kazooie and Dragon Quest’s Hero

Some of the more surprising faces were those added to the roster for Super Smash Bros Ultimate, the Switch entry for Nintendo’s iconic fighting franchise that came out last year. There’s been a steady drip-feed of additional Smash Bros DLC content with new characters like Piranha Plant and Persona 5’s Joker joining the fray – though Nintendo has now revealed the next two fighters for the coming content packs. 

The first is Hero! You know, Hero? The (technically unnamed) protagonist from the recent Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age will be slashing his way onto Smash Bros stages later this summer, with a nifty trailer showing off some serious swordplay – and three alternative skins that let you play as the lead characters from Dragon Quest III, Dragon Quest IV, and Dragon Quest VII.

The other is Rare mascot Banjo-Kazooie, who first appeared on the Nintendo 64 back in 1998, and has been at the top of fan’s lists to add to the game, alongside the likes of Dragonball’s Goku or Crash Bandicoot (we’re still holding out hope for the others).

Banjo-Kazooie will be available to download – with additional soundtracks and stages for the game – in Autumn 2019. As a fighter, they’re sure to add a whole load of vertical strategy with that bird strapped to Banjo’s back.

Animal Crossing New Horizons

Our first gameplay footage of Animal Crossing: New Horizons shows the villager farming and crafting new furniture – something that has never been an aspect of the main Animal Crossing games. Some of these features look like they’re lifted from Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, while other aspects are completely new for the series. 

The setup for the game, as was revealed by the trailer, is that Tom Nook is now chartering vacation packages to a deserted island which you, as the villager, must explore and cultivate into a thriving community. It’s a neat spin on the classic formula, and one that we’ll hear more about before it comes out on March 20, 2020.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

This one’s a match made in heaven for Nintendo’s portable machine. Ni no Kuni is, in our humble opinion, one of the most underrated JRPGs of the last decade. 

With art direction helped along by some of the Studio Ghibli team, it combines beautiful anime visuals with a Pokemon-like battle system that has you training up companion monsters for turn-based battles. It’s also got an absolutely heart wrenching story. It’s a long and fairytale-like adventure, making it perfectly suited for on-the-go play.

Doom Eternal

The upcoming latest edition in the Doom series has been confirmed to be making its way to Nintendo Switch, meaning you can transverse the hellscape while on your work commute. A truly terrifying thought.

Unfortunately we don’t know exactly when we’ll be seeing the Doomslayer making his way to Switch – seeing as Doom Eternal doesn’t actually have a release date yet – but we do know it’ll be later this year.

While violent first person shooters don’t exactly have the charm factor that Nintendo is known for, the most recent Doom game went down a treat on Switch and we’re expecting Eternal to do the same. Who said the Nintendo Switch was just for kids?

Alien Isolation

Nintendo’s not known for its horror titles either, but it’s getting one of the best ever made in the shape of a port of Alien Isolation.

Based on the classic sci-fi franchise, you play as Ellen Ripley’s daughter as she’s hunted down by a lone xenomorph aboard an abandoned space station. It’s more survival-horror than action, where hiding and holding your breath is a better bet than going in all guns blazing. And, with the Nintendo Switch being a hybrid handheld, you can bring the game on the toilet to play in case you get so scared that you… well. You get the picture.

Dauntless

Dauntless officially launched in May 2019 with a bang, drawing millions of players to the free-to-play monster hunting game. Sure, it seems to lift a lot from Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise, but at least F2P makes it accessible to fans who can’t stomach the high price tag of a new game – and lets their friends try it at no cost.

Dauntless exists in a world torn asunder by a cataclysm that releases gigantic monsters, Behemoths, that the players must hunt and destroy. Like Fortnite before it, Dauntless allows cross-platform play, so expect to link up with your buddies on WIndows, PS4 and Xbox One when the game launches on Switch later in 2019.

Collection of Mana

If you’re after some RPG nostalgia on Switch, Nintendo has you covered. The Collection of Mana released in Japan back in 2017, bundling a trilogy of iconic games from the Mana series – and is now available to download from the Switch eShop across the world.

That includes Final Fantasy Adventure (Game Boy, 1991) and its sequel Secret of Mana (SNES, 1993) – as well as the third game in the series, Trials of Mana (Super Famicom, 1995) that until now has never been released outside of Japan. See the trailer below for some wonderful pixel action.

  • E3 2019 is the biggest gaming event of the year. TechRadar is reporting live from LA, telling you all about the biggest announcements of the week, from epic game trailers to shocking release date reveals. Follow our expert analysis of the keynotes and what we see on the E3 show floor.

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The JungleJune 14, 2019
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7min0

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An Avengers-worthy quest indeed.


Marvel

Did you make it through Avengers: Endgame’s three-hour runtime without a bathroom break? Good for you! But as of Thursday night, Agustin Alanis, 30, of Riverview, Florida has made it through that blockbuster film’s three-hour runtime 116 times. Never once has he ducked out for a break, even though he most certainly knows when the more skippable scenes come up.

Alanis is gunning for the Guinness World Record for “most cinema productions attended — same film,” and he’s in good shape to do that. On Thursday night, he sat through viewing 116 with no end in sight. His goal is 200 viewings, or close to it.

“I wasn’t planning to try and break (the world record) to begin with,” Alanis told me. “But I had watched it every day since it came out for two weeks, and just like the movie shattered records, I decided to do it as well.”

Alanis said he’s a Marvel fan who’s watched 2014’s Captain America: Winter Soldier numerous times at home, and he knew he could stand the repetition — at least for a Marvel film.

“I don’t think I would try it with another movie,” he admitted.

Alanis usually goes twice on weekdays and more often on weekends. On the film’s opening weekend, he saw it five times. When he’s not in the theater, he’s works in his family’s construction business.

“My friends and family have been very supportive,” he said. “My parents and younger sister came with me when I reached 100 views.”

Isn’t he sick of the same lines and scenes over and over?

“Can’t be sick of it,” Alanis said. “I do recite (the lines) in my mind, and sometimes out loud when there’s no one sitting next to me.”

And as for a bathroom break, despite the film’s three-hour runtime, he says he’s just never needed one.

Alanis’ top-rated Avengers: Endgame scenes involve his favorite character, Captain America, especially when the WWII hero manages to wield Thor’s hammer, mighty Mjölnir, and when the once-dusted heroes reappear and Cap delivers his famed “Avengers assemble!” line.

And as far as the protests and petitions about fans wanting a different fate for Iron Man? He’s not on board.

“To end the infinity saga, Iron Man had to die saving everyone,” says the man who’s seen the movie more than perhaps anyone on the planet. “That was his purpose and his fate , so no, I wouldn’t change it.”

Alanis has sent details of his quest to the Guinness Book of World Records, and regularly tweets photos with his ticket stubs and movie theater employees after each showing. He hasn’t heard back from Guinness yet, but there is precedent.

The current record is held by Tony “Nem” Mitchell, who spoke to me in 2018 when he was setting the record with Avengers: Infinity War. When Mitchell spoke to me, he had seen the film a mere 45 times, but he went on to watch it a total of 103 times, earning himself an invite to the premiere of Avengers: Endgame.

Alanis hasn’t met Mitchell, but there seem to be no hard feelings.

“We have crossed words on Twitter, with him cheering me on to break the record,” Alanis said.

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The JungleJune 14, 2019
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8min0

(Reuters) – Daniel Loeb’s activist hedge fund Third Point LLC called on Sony Corp on Thursday to spin off its semiconductor business and sell off stakes in Sony Financial and other units, in order to position itself as a leading global entertainment company.

FILE PHOTO: Journalists wait for Sony Corp’s new President and Chief Executive Officer Kenichiro Yoshida’s news conference on the company’s business plan at Sony’s headquarters in Tokyo, Japan May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

This marks the second time in six years that Loeb, one of the world’s highest-profile activist investors, has targeted the Japanese electronics maker – although last time he pushed for a radically different shake-up, pressing for a spin-off of entertainment assets.

Reuters reported in April that Third Point was once again targeting Sony. Its stake in the company is now worth $1.5 billion, Third Point said in a letter to investors.

In a 102-page presentation, the New York-based hedge fund also said Sony’s stock was undervalued in part because of its complex structure, and urged bold action by management to simplify it.

The semiconductor division is “often treated by investors as an afterthought” and should be spun off into a Japan-listed company called Sony Technologies, Loeb said.

While Japan pioneered the semiconductor industry, other Asian countries have eaten into its market share even as Sony has “held its own,” Loeb told investors in the letter.

“New Sony” would become a creative entertainment leader with gaming, music, pictures and electronics businesses, he said.

Sony should also consider selling stakes in Sony Financial Holdings Inc, M3 Inc, Olympus Corp and Spotify Technology SA, Third Point wrote.

By selling off these stakes, Third Point said Sony could “meaningfully reduce complexity” that has been a major negative factor in the company’s valuation.

Sony said it would take the input of shareholders “seriously” and “engage in constructive dialogue” with shareholders.

“Sony welcomes investment in the company. We decline to comment on specifics of our dialogue with shareholders,” the company said in a statement, when asked about Third Point.

The Japanese company has hired Goldman Sachs to advise on dealing with Third Point, a person familiar with the matter said. A Goldman spokesman declined to comment

Shares of Sony rose as much as 4 percent in Tokyo trade on Friday. The stock is up nearly 15 percent since early April, when Reuters first disclosed that Loeb was building a stake in Sony. That compares to a 3 percent drop in the Nikkei 225 index over the same period.

BIG BUSINESS

Makoto Kikuchi, chief executive of Myojo Asset Management in Tokyo, which does not own Sony shares, questioned the wisdom of spinning off the semiconductor unit, which he said benefited other businesses including the PlayStation.

“It doesn’t make sense for Sony to spin off its semiconductor unit as it is one of the successful businesses that contributes to its earnings,” he said.

Loeb threw his weight behind Sony Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida, saying he could create a “Stronger Sony” by shifting his focus to unlocking the value of its assets.

So far the relationship has been cordial and the two sides met in New York last week, when Loeb and several colleagues walked Sony executives, including Yoshida, through the presentation and the hedge fund’s thinking.

For weeks, rumors had surfaced about what Loeb might want Sony to do and how Sony would respond. So far Sony has not indicated what it would do in response to Third Point’s suggestions.

When Loeb first approached Sony in 2013, he built a position of roughly $1 billion and hand-delivered a letter to chief executive Kazuo Hirai, calling on the company to spin off part of its entertainment arm. He walked away with a 20 percent gain on his investment, he has said publicly, regretting that he missed out on bigger gains.

Six years later, Hirai has stepped aside as CEO at Sony and a number of tax regulations have changed in Japan, making it more attractive for companies to potentially spin off businesses that don’t fit together well.

Loeb is also arriving anew amid a fresh wave of activism in Japan where investors like ValueAct, King Street Capital Management and Fir Tree Partners have pushed for change at Olympus Corp, Toshiba Corp and Kyushu Railway Company.

Japanese companies accustomed to their ways are often reluctant to succumb to investor pressure. However, Loeb is no stranger to challenging companies with long odds of success. Last year, he sought to oust the entire board of Campbell Soup Co, despite the founding family’s members controlling much of the U.S. food company. He ended up settling for two board seats.

Third Point returned 9 percent in the first quarter of 2019 fueled largely by gains at Nestle, which was publicly critiqued by the hedge fund in 2018 for its “muddled strategic approach.”

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in New York; Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa, Taro Fuse and David Dolan in Tokyo; Editing by Leslie Adler and Stephen Coates

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The JungleJune 14, 2019
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3min0


As Russia looks to tighten its grip on the content its citizens can access online, a new bill could affect how Google and other search engines, VPN services and web resources operate in the country.

Just as China’s Great Firewall does, Russia too blocks access to prohibited content and the Russian search engine Yandex often omits certain search results from being seen by the country’s users.

However, Google has only recently started to do so and Russian consumers are growing increasingly aware of the fact that they can skirt the country’s censorship by using a VPN.

This is why a group of Duma deputies from Russia’s lower house have proposed a bill which would impose fines of up to $77k on foreign services that further refuse to filter prohibited content in the country.

Comply or be fined

Back in March, the Kremlin’s communication watchdog, Roskomnadzor, sent out letters to popular VPN providers informing them that their services would soon be blocked in Russia unless they complied with local laws. While most of the VPN services have refused to connect their services to the Federal State Information System (FGIS), only Kaspersky Secure Connection complied with the government’s requests.

An anonymous source provided further details on the proposed bill to the Russian news site Interfax, saying:

“This bill will be an efficient mechanism of influence. It may affect such resources as Google and VPN services in the case of repeat refusal to filter.”

The bill has yet to be signed into law but if it is, it could lead to more foreign tech companies pulling out of Russia over ethical concerns.

Via Interfax

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The JungleJune 13, 2019
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3min0

San Francisco Board Of Supervisors To Vote On Banning Facial-Recognition Technology

A video surveillance camera hangs from the side of a building in San Francisco, California. 


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

New technology can improve our lives, but it can also come with unforeseen pitfalls. Cameras are now smaller, better and smarter than ever before, and that, warns the American Civil Liberties Union, could be an issue in the future.

The nearly 50 million surveillance cameras in the US could be used to police people as smart technology improves, according to an ACLU report released Thursday. “The Dawn of Robot Surveillance” looks at the increasing number of cameras installed by government agencies and how advancements in artificial intelligence and facial recognition are making those cameras smarter, which the ACLU says could present civil rights issues.

“Cameras that collect and store video just in case it is needed are being transformed into robot guards that actively and constantly watch people,” Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the ACLU, said in a release. “It is as if a great surveillance machine has been growing up around us, but largely dumb and inert — and is now, in a meaningful sense, waking up. The end result, if left unchecked, will be a society where everyone’s public movements and behavior are subject to constant and comprehensive evaluation and judgment by what are essentially AI security guards.”

To deal with this potential surveillance state nightmare, the ACLU is urging policymakers to begin creating rules to minimize abuse and prevent the use of video AI technology on the masses. The organization recently won a battle against law enforcement using facial recognition in San Francisco. In May, the city passed an ordinance that would bar police and other city agencies from using facial recognition technology on residents. 

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The JungleJune 13, 2019
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3min0

A billboard of ride-hailing service Uber is pictured on a highway in New Delhi, India, April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N) has launched a new ride-hailing service in India’s tech capital Bengaluru that will use miniature gas-powered cars called “Qute” to win over commuters stressed out by the sprawling city’s heavily-congested streets.

Uber’s first market in India, Bengaluru has struggled to hold onto its nickname as the “Garden City” over the past two decades as its population tripled and infrastructure failed to keep up, stranding drivers in huge rush-hour traffic jams.

The chunky, low-powered vehicles, made by Bajaj Auto Ltd (BAJA.NS), are billed as a greener alternative to ordinary cars and India’s ubiquitous 3-wheel auto rickshaws, sometimes called tuk-tuks, which are cheap but give passengers hardly any protection from petrol fumes and monsoon rains.

Uber will price the Qutes, which can carry up to three passengers and have windows and a fan but no air-conditioning, for slightly less than its standard car service. It started with 50 of the cars on Thursday and will expand to several hundred in the coming months.

“We want to be seen as part of framing a solution,” said Satinder Bindra, Director, Communications India and South Asia, adding “Bengaluru is one of our more important and larger markets.”

Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma and Derek Francis in Bengaluru; editing by Bernard Orr, Patrick Graham

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The JungleJune 13, 2019
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74min0

It’s been an interesting year for even the best Apple Watch apps. In the spring it seemed as if the Watch had lost its sparkle, with many big-name apps either languishing or being pulled from the Watch altogether. The problem wasn’t that Apple Watch apps are a bad idea, though. 

Far from it, as our selection here demonstrates. It was that sometimes, apps were designed to answer the wrong question: “could we make a Watch app?” but not “should we?”

Now, watchOS 6 is set to bring an App Store to your Apple Watch for the very first time. That may encourage app developers to take the Apple Watch more seriously, so 2019 may be a big year for great new apps on your wrist.

The Apple Watch 4 is proving pretty popular too, and that’s why you’re probably here checking out the new apps. In fact, it’s one of the best smartwatch options out there, and now we’re at the fourth generation it’s becoming a particularly accomplished smart option for your wrist.

Jump to best Apple Watch apps for…

Our favourite apps, the apps that are still here after a bumpy year, both should and could have been made. They exist because they’re useful, or because they’re entertaining, or because they make your life that little bit better. 

In this round-up you’ll find apps for podcasting and procrastinating, for getting fit and getting stuff done, for messing around and for sorting stuff out. 

Before you get into our list remember to head into the Apple Watch main app on your iPhone – that’s where you’ll see a list of the apps already installed on your phone that can also be transferred to your Watch. If you see any you like the look of here, you’ll need to download them to your iPhone first.

And make sure to check this article weekly, as we’ll add a new app each week, highlighted below.

Apple Watch app of the week: HomeRun for HomeKit

HomeRun has been around for a while to make it easier to control HomeKit devices from your wrist. The latest version, 1.2, is a significant upgrade. It’s all about routines, complications and Siri shortcuts.

The previous version of HomeRun enabled you to create custom complications for your Apple Watch. Version 1.2 expands that to the Siri watch face, and both the Infographic and Siri complications now benefit from the app’s new Routines. 

Routines enable you to create different events for different times of the day and to change the complication or Siri watch face accordingly, so the button or link that appears at 8am will be different from the one that appears at lunchtime or home time.

To create a Routine you do three things: specify when it should start, specify which scene it should activate and specify which icon and color the shortcut should have.

If you’ve got a really complex life you can have multiple different complications, each attached to a different Routine, and you can also specify what should show up as a Siri shortcut at different times. It’s clever and genuinely useful stuff for anybody who likes to get things just-so, and a great demonstration of how cool Apple Watch apps can be.

Best Apple Watch apps for fitness and running

There’s no denying that the main thrust of the Apple Watch since the second model is for fitness: it’s packing GPS, heart rate, water resistance and improved sensors to make the most of the fact people like to work out with this thing – it even connects to gym equipment.

This list of Apple Watch fitness, running, wellbeing and health apps are nearly all must-have – if you’re going to do one thing with your new Watch, use it to become a healthier you in mind and body.

Tag Heuer Golf

You may know Tag Heuer for its reassuringly expensive timepieces, but you might not know about its prowess in making smartwatches for golfers. With the new Golf app, the company brings its golfing talents to your Apple Watch.

The main iPhone app is free, but the Apple Watch companion is only available to subscribers. If you subscribe, you get most of the features of the firm’s smartwatch: maps of nearly 40,000 courses worldwide that tell you where the hazards are, shot distance measurement and real-time statistics. You can track not just your own scores but those of up to three friends too.

As you’d expect, the companion iPhone app is well designed and makes good use of the information from your Watch: it can show you not just how well you performed today, but how well you performed in your last 20 rounds or all time. It’s packed with stats: the best score to par, the longest shot, the putts per hole… there’s probably a section rating the garishness of your trousers too.

The price might seem steep but golf doesn’t come cheap – and when you consider that you’re getting much the same feature set as a watch that can cost four figures, it does represent comparatively good value for money.

Fabulous – Daily Motivation

We were going to write about this ages ago but we couldn’t be bothered. Boom boom! If you’re struggling to get stuff done, Fabulous hopes to help.

It’s an odd little app that does a little of everything: health tracking, yoga, exercise advice, mindfulness, dieting and psychology. It’s based around making little but significant changes to your life: helping you clear your head or work your abs, tracking your health or fitness goals and reminding you to stay hydrated.

If you’re watching your weight the app also has a weight loss program inspired by the Atkins and HCG diets. The app claims to be based on “major scientific studies” but of course you should always seek medical advice before embarking on any diet.

The bulk of the work happens on the iPhone app, with the Watch app as a simple companion reminding you what to do and enabling you to tick off the items on your daily schedule. As is often the case with fitness apps, the main features are reserved for subscribers: to access the personal coaching feature you’ll need to pay a monthly or yearly subscription.

Attain by Aetna

Would you be willing to share your fitness data with your healthcare provider in exchange for the odd reward? That’s what Attain appears to be about. We say “appears to be” because in order to get it you need to be an Aetna customer and sign up for the app via its Attain By Aetna website.

The app is designed to make health recommendations, such as telling you when it’s time to get flu shots or refill your prescriptions, and to help you live a fitter, healthier life. Data will be encrypted and shared with both Aetna and Apple, but it isn’t currently used to make decisions about your coverage or the cost of your coverage.

The app provides a range of fitness targets based on your age, sex and weight, and it enables you to score points by achieving those goals. You can achieve goals based not just on steps taken but on activities such as swimming or yoga too.

As anyone who’s watched dreadful game shows knows, points mean prizes – and in this case those prizes include “gift cards from popular retailers” and even a brand new Apple Watch. We’re willing to bet it will take more than a quick run around the block to qualify for that one.

ActivityTracker Pedometer

We’ve covered ActivityTracker before, and it’s had some significant updates since we last looked. In addition to support for the Apple Watch 4, the latest iPhones, iOS 12 and watchOS 5, it boasts four new complications for the new Infograph watch face and an updated engine to more accurately record activity times.

As before, the main app is designed to track your activity without using your phone or watch’s GPS features, so it’s less demanding on battery life. It uses your device’s motion processor to record and calculate steps taken, stairs climbed, calories burned, distance traveled and active time, and you can see how well you’re doing on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis.

You can also import your historical data from Apple’s Health app so you’re not starting from a clean slate of data.

If you subscribe to the Pro version for a modest $4.99 / £4.99 / AU$7.99 it offers complications for instant stats on your Apple Watch and synchronization of steps between iPhone, Watch and the Health app. Pro users can also move data from one iPhone to another. Whether you subscribe or not the Watch app gives you an overview of the last hour, day and week in the form of attractive and effective graphs.

Slopes

Late in 2018, Apple introduced improved snowboarding and skiing tracking for the Apple Watch Series 3 and later. That’s been a boon for snow apps such as Slopes, which can use the improved APIs to gather more useful information than ever before.

With Slopes you can track your speed, vertical, distance, lift vs trail time and more, getting the information you need right now on your wrist and sharing that data with the iPhone so you can analyze it later.

Slopes is very clever. It automatically detects runs and lifts, it can replay your runs in 3D with heat maps showing your speed on each bit of the run, and it even integrates with your photo library to automatically display photos you took on your skiing or snowboarding trips. The app also integrates with the Apple Health app, recording details of your workouts and the calories you’ve burned.

As with many sport apps the core version of Slopes is free but there’s also a premium subscription that introduces extra features. Here that means live run-by-run breakdowns, unlimited run and lift stat breakdowns, premium maps and even virtual 3D mountains to show you where you’ve been. An annual pass is a very reasonable $19.99/£12.49/AU$17.99.

Strava

Strava is one of the most popular running and cycling apps around, but it’s always required you to have your phone or a non-Apple smartwatch to track your travels and record your vital statistics. Not anymore.

If you have an Apple Watch 2, the Strava Apple Watch app can use its GPS to record your run without requiring you to strap a phone to anything. The interface isn’t as pretty as the iPhone app’s interface, but when you’re running or cycling that doesn’t matter: the information you need is presented cleanly enough and the app is simple and straightforward to use.

The main app is free and offers essential features including distance, pace, speed, elevation and burned calories, and there’s a premium service for $5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99 per month or $59.99/£54.99/AU$89.99 per year that offers more detailed post-exercise analysis, live performance feedback and personalized coaching – although not through the Watch.

However, if you’re someone who uses the premium features like Beacon on the main app, you might not find Strava on the Apple Watch to your liking compared to using it on the phone.

Nike Run Club

The ongoing love-fest between Nike and Apple continues to bear fruit: the latest iteration of the Nike Run Club app introduces some welcome improvements. 

It now integrates with Siri Suggestions, which means the app can now suggest good times for a run based on your previous runs (the feature is off by default so it won’t nag you if you don’t want it to), and there are new Apple Watch complications including one for the Infograph face that shows how far you’ve run this month.

There’s hardly a shortage of running apps in the App Store but Nike’s budget is a bit higher than most, so the app feels a lot more premium than many others. It tracks and stores all your runs thanks to your Watch’s built-in GPS, enables you to listen to audio guides as you run, offers a range of challenges to keep you motivated and has good social sharing features, so you can turn your friends into cheerleaders. 

It’s very well designed and the Watch app doesn’t sacrifice substance for style: while visually it’s very attractive it also shows all the information you actually need as you’re pounding the pavements. It’s a really good running app.

ECG

Apple’s much-heralded ECG app has finally arrived. It’s available for free to Apple Watch users and should automatically appear in your list of available apps as part of the watchOS 5.1.2 update, but you’ll only get it in a select few territories: the US, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.

If you really, really want the app and you don’t live in any of those places you can get around it by changing the system region to one of the countries where it is available, although of course that will affect the other apps on your Watch too. For users in the UK it may be the only way to get the ECG app for the foreseeable future.

The app itself is simple and potentially life-saving. You simply put a finger on the Digital Crown, wait 30 seconds and the app analyzes the electrical impulses in your body; this enable it to detect some cases of atrial fibrillation. The emphasis here is on ‘some’: the app can generate false positive results, and it’s no substitute for a real doctor. However, by detecting issues that may otherwise go unnoticed it’s a useful thing for your Apple Watch to offer.

Cardiogram

We’ve written about Cardiogram before: it’s a very valuable health tracker that enables you to see how your heart is working over time, and which enables you to look for spikes related to what you eat, how you exercise and whether you’re particularly stressed at work. All you need to do is wear your Apple Watch, which checks your heart rate every five minutes. Cardiogram then crunches that data to give you an insight into what your body’s doing.

What’s interesting about Cardiogram now isn’t the app itself, but the partnerships that are starting to emerge.

In the US, Amica Life and Greenhouse Health Insurance are offering life insurance for Cardiogram users with any version of the Apple Watch: simply use the Cardiogram app and you can be eligible for up to $1,000 (around £775/AU$1,400) in accidental death cover for 12 months, with the option to purchase up to $50,000 (roughly £39,000/AU$70,000) more from within the app. $1,000 isn’t a lot in the great scheme of things, especially in America, but it’s a lot for free.

You don’t have to share data either, the insurers bet that people who use Cardiogram are more likely to take steps to improve their health than people who don’t.

As with most health things, such partnerships are subject to regulatory approval, and the Cardiogram partnership is currently available in Wisconsin, Arizona, Indiana and Georgia. Expect more states and more partnerships soon.

MySwimPro

This is a tale of two apps, depending on which version of Apple Watch you have. If yours is a first-generation model then it’s a useful but limited way to track your swimming stats: the first-gen watch shouldn’t be submerged, so you shouldn’t wear it while swimming.

However, if you have a second-generation Apple Watch (Apple calls it the Apple Watch Series 2) then you can take it into the pool – and that makes MySwimPro a much more useful application. You can log your workouts while you’re still in the water, and you can also follow the app’s workouts to set goals and monitor your heart rate during your swim.

Once you’ve dried off you can pick up the iPhone or iPad app, which syncs data from your Watch and enables you to see your progress in much more detail: miles swum, hours spent swimming, top times for specific distances and so on.

You can share your triumphs online, or you can just watch videos showing how other swimmers do particular types of workout. It’s probably overkill if you only do the odd couple of laps at the gym swimming pool, but if you’re serious about swimming it’s worth wearing on your wrist.

Nike Training Club

Nike and Apple are best friends forever, so it’s not a huge surprise to see Nike unveil another Watch app. This one’s really good, too. Describing itself as “your ultimate personal trainer”, Nike Training Club has more than 180 workouts covering strength, endurance, mobility and yoga, and they’re all free. There are daily personalized picks based on your previous activity, flexible training plans to help you achieve your fitness goals, and tips from top trainers.

The app splits jobs between phone and Watch. The former is where you do the planning and tracking; the latter is what you wear while you’re actually working out. By necessity as well as design that means focusing only on the information you really need right now, such as your heart rate and how many reps you still have to do before you can undo all your efforts with some cake and beer.

The app is by no means unique in its combination of Watch and workout tracking, although it does have Nike’s immediately recognizable and individual visual style. But what’s significant about this app is that none of its many workouts are hidden behind in-app purchases or pricey subscriptions. Everything in the app is free.

Round Health

The longer we’ve had our Apple Watches, the more we’ve come to appreciate simplicity: while the App Store is full of apps that offer all kinds of features, the ones we actually use every day tend to do one thing very well. Round Health is that kind of app: it’s designed to make sure you take your medicine, and it does so with the minimum of fuss. You can also have it as a complication, so you know exactly what you need to take next.

Whether it’s vitamins or medication, most of us have had that “did I take it today?” thing. That’s no big deal if you’re just topping up your vitamin D in winter, but for people taking birth control or who have serious and/or chronic conditions it’s often very important to take certain medicine at certain times.

With Round Health you can set simple but persistent reminders that make sure you take what you need to take, and it supports more complex medical regimes involving multiple medications and schedules as well as tracking when you need to renew your prescription.

The term ‘life-changing’ is bandied around a lot to describe rather ordinary apps, but Round Health is a great way of helping you stay on top of your health.

Lifesum

Like many health-related apps, Lifesum really wants you to take out a subscription: that’s $44.99/£34.99/AU$69.99 per year, though it sometimes runs a 30% off promotion. The core app is free, though. Its goal is to help you think about what you eat and what activity you do and to make positive changes to make yourself healthier.

On the iPhone, Lifesum enables you to count calories and track your meals, discover healthy recipes and track your progress towards your goals. It works with other apps too, so for example if you’ve got a Fitbit or use Runkeeper it can get data from them.

On the Watch it’s a much simpler affair, urging you to stay hydrated, showing your progress towards your resting, moving and stretching goals and doing everything through a kind of little Tamagotchi character.

It pulls data from the Apple Health app as well as the Lifesum app to ensure you get the widest possible picture of your intake and activity, and you can add data as well as view it: for example, you can take a note of what you’re eating via the Watch app and then enter more details on the iPhone later. Unusually there isn’t a Watch complication, but the app does tie in with the Watch’s notification system to keep you updated.

Headspace

If you’ve ever felt that life is just that bit too busy or stressful, Headspace could help. It’s based around mindfulness, which is all about getting you to feel calmer without too much effort. In fact, it’s the opposite of effort: mindfulness is about taking a break from the rush.

The Apple Watch app is part of a wider offering for iPhone and iPad: it acts as a reminder and a coach, urging you to pick an exercise and focus on it for the allotted time. It also has an SOS mode for when things feel too much and you need help instantly. But it’s the main app that does most of the work, with daily mindfulness exercises and sessions designed to help with everything from workplace stress to sleep problems.

It’s very well done but one thing that might raise your stress levels is the cost: while the app is free to try it really needs a subscription to unlock its most useful features, and that subscription is $12.99/£9.99/AU$19.99 per month or $94.99/£74.99/AU$149.99 per year. That’s an auto-renewing subscription too, so you need to disable that in iTunes if you don’t want it to recur automatically.

WebMD

Medical apps don’t just exist to persuade you that your mild headache is terminal brain cancer. They can help keep you healthy too. While WebMD does indeed let you compare your symptoms with various illnesses and conditions to scare yourself silly, that’s not the most interesting thing about it or its Watch companion app.

WebMD enables you to detail your medication schedules, with dosage information and the option to be reminded of what you need to take and when you need to take it. This can be in the form of a notification, or you can have it as a Watch face Complication so it’s right there in the middle of the display.

It can also remind you of any prerequisites, such as whether you need to take your medicine with food or on an empty stomach. It’s the sort of simple but very useful thing the Apple Watch does well.

Over on the main iPhone app there’s plenty more to discover. You can read up on the side effects and precautions of specific pills or patches, find out if you need to go hiding from the flu or just catch up on the latest health and wellbeing news from various credible sources.

HeartWatch

How’s your heart? If you don’t know the answer, this app can shed some light. It might even save your life, as it did for James Green: the app alerted him about an unusual spike in his heart rate, and it turned out to be a pulmonary embolism. If it weren’t for the alert, Green might well have died.

You don’t really need more of a sales pitch to justify spending three dollars on staying alive, but HeartWatch isn’t a one-trick app. It pulls information from the Watch’s heart rate sensor to track what it’s doing when you wake, when you sleep, when you work out and when you just go about your day.

The reason for the different types of activity is simple: you don’t want your app warning you about elevated heart rate if you’re doing something designed to elevate your heart rate, an issue that used to drive us daft when exercising with our Apple Watch set to the defaults.

It won’t work without the Health app installed – that’s the route by which it gets its data – but you can also import data from other health apps if you use other kinds of connected health monitors.

One Drop Diabetes Management

We’re increasingly intrigued about HealthKit, Apple’s framework for health monitoring apps: we’ve already seen apps that can warn of rare but potentially lethal heart conditions, and now we’re seeing a whole host of specialist apps that can integrate with specific monitoring hardware to help with particular conditions. As the name suggests, this one’s for people with diabetes.

One Drop makes Chrome, a Bluetooth blood glucose meter that’s sold as a package with testing strips. If you have the meter the app gets information from each test, but if you don’t it’s still a useful app to help monitor your diabetes.

The app enables you to log your activity, your food intake and your medication and to share that information with HealthKit and the Health app (if that’s what you want to do). As ever the main iPhone app is where all the detail is, with the Watch app taking care of quick data recording and progress notifications.

The iPhone app builds on the basics with a database of foods’ nutritional information, historical data, insulin pump data and the ability to schedule reminders for your medication.

WorkOutDoors

If your idea of good exercise involves going far from the madding crowds, you’ll like WorkOutDoors. It’s a workout app that’s based around vector maps that you can easily rotate and zoom, tracking your location and your progress.

It uses the Watch’s GPS (if you have a GPS-enabled Watch) so there’s no need to take your phone on a hike, cycle or snowboard run, and features such as breadcrumb tracking, custom points of interest and customizable stats displays enable you to make the app truly your own.

In a nice touch you can export your workouts from the iPhone app in GPX format, which can be imported into many other workout apps and sites.

It’s very, very well thought out. For example, something as simple as the stats display is available in a variety of sizes to suit different kinds of activity (not to mention different levels of eyesight).

It makes good use of color-coding to make routes crystal clear, waypoints can provide extra information such as directions, and the map automatically rotates as you move so you’re always sure of the right direction. It’s a brilliant app for pretty much any outdoor activity.

Streaks

The trick to living better isn’t to damn near kill yourself on a treadmill and then give up after a few weeks. It’s to make smaller, lasting changes to your life, changes that you can and will actually stick to. And that’s what Streaks offers.

Whether you’re trying to eat more healthily, exercise more or break a smoking habit, Streaks enables you to track positive and negative habits. It offers a range of reporting tools so you can see exactly how well you’re doing, and you can track up to 12 different tasks at once.

They needn’t be exercise or eating tasks: you can remind yourself to walk the dog, study, take vitamins or practice a musical instrument. It’s good to see wheelchair users included in the default tasks list too.

Where Streaks really shines is in its integration with the Health app, which enables it to pull data to use for monitoring suitable targets you’ve set. That reduces a lot of the form-filling of similar apps, and it’s particularly effective if you’re trying to work on good healthy habits or eliminate unhealthy ones, or both.

There’s a Complication too, so that you don’t forget your goals, and the whole thing is customizable so that you can get it just-so.

Elevate Dash – Brain Training and Games

We’re not convinced by the supposed science of brain training – it’s a sector that makes bold claims based on very flimsy evidence – but there’s no doubt that spending time learning or practicing useful things is better for you than mindlessly swiping through trivia on Twitter.

Elevate claims that its brain training app will “improve critical cognitive skills that are proven to boost productivity, earning power, and self-confidence”, and it does so by setting little tasks for you: choosing the correct meaning of words, calculating percentages and so on.

Correct answers earn points, and you can track your progress on the main iPhone/iPad app as well as on your Watch. The Watch’s small screen means the games you get are very simple ones, but that works well when you’re on the move.

The app is free and lets you play 4 mini-games. If you want to access the full selection of 40+ Elevate games you’ll need your iPhone or iPad and a subscription to the premium membership package, which is $4.99/£3.99/AU$7.99 per month or $44.99/£34.99/AU$69.99 per year.

If you could do with a boost to specific skills – working out restaurant tips, perhaps, or improving your vocabulary – then you might feel that’s well worth the money.

Peak – Brain Training

From a team of developers, psychologists and neuroscientists, Peak is a great app for keeping your brain active. The Watch version offers three games, ideal for the smaller screen. Some of these seem simple at first, but they quickly become more challenging.

There are workouts to test memory, focus and problem solving – all of them fun, engaging, and the ideal to while away the daily commute. 

Runtastic Six Pack Abs Workout

If you’ve been meaning to get that six-pack tummy but just don’t have time to go to the gym, this iPhone app has high-quality videos of avatars performing crunches, situps, stretches and core twists that you can do in your own time on your bedroom floor, say.

Initial workouts with Runtastic are free, more come as in-app purchases. And if squinting at your precariously perched iPhone isn’t doing it for you, the Watch app means you can see an animation on your watch, with vibrations on your wrist to start and end a set. It’s easy to use and works well. Now you’ll have to find another excuse not to work out.

MyFitnessPal

Information is power and if you’re trying to lose weight, calorie tracking is a good way to stay focused. MyFitnessPal works out a daily calorie allowance based on how much weight you want to shed. Eat a meal and your allowance is spent, take exercise and you earn credit.

The Watch gives you a running total of remaining calories and how that breaks down into protein, carbohydrates and more. It can integrate with your steps total so you don’t have to add those manually. It’s simple but convenient and helpful.

Walkmeter GPS Pedometer

If walking’s your thing, Walkmeter helps track your every step, showing your perambulations on a map and generating detailed graphs. The Watch app has clear data reporting and you can start and stop a walk from your wrist using the Watch’s Force Touch actions.

Apple’s own Workout app does a lot, but this app has more detail and the mapping detail on the iPhone is great. The app is free but for full Watch performance you need to upgrade to the Elite version for $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99. There’s a lot here, including training plans and announcements as you hit targets or distances.

CARROT Fit

You may know CARROT from its weather app, which combines Dark Sky-style weather forecasting with sarcasm and lies. But CARROT wants to make you unhappy in many other ways – and what’s better for a sadistic AI than being in control of a fitness app?

Enter CARROT Fit, which takes a somewhat unusual approach to motivating you to get healthier and lose weight.

CARROT promises to “get you fit – or else”. To achieve that it offers a dozen punishing exercises (more are available via in-app purchases) accompanied by threats, ridicule, bribes and the occasional compliment.

It’s rude, crude and much more entertaining than trying to complete the rings on Apple’s own activity tracker, and we’re pretty sure it’s the only fitness app that rewards progress with cat facts. But there’s a proper fitness tracker in here too: it’ll track your steps and weight loss, remember your workouts and add data to Apple’s health app.

Most of the personality is in the main iPhone app, but the Watch alerts include such cheery prospects as “seven minutes in hell”. If you find getting fit or losing weight a little bit tedious, CARROT might be the, ahem, carrot that you need to get motivated.

Lose It!

If your Watch strap is feeling a little more snug than it used to, this app may be the answer: it’s designed to help you achieve your weight loss goals “without the unsustainable gimmicks, fad diets, restrictive foods, on-site meetings, or large price tags of other weight-loss companies.”

It tracks the calories you’ve consumed and the goals you’ve set, focuses on nutrition as well as overall calorie intake, works happily with other fitness apps and trackers and provides an online peer group where everybody encourages each other to achieve their ideal weight.

It also enables you to set exercise goals and focus on general wellness, so it’s not just about losing weight.

The Apple Watch app doesn’t replace the phone app completely – for example, you’ll need your phone handy if you want to use the barcode scanner to automatically record what you’re eating, and the team-based features such as group challenges are phone-based – but it’s a great way to focus on your goals, monitor your progress and keep your motivation no matter how sorely tempted you may be.

The program is $39.99/£29.99/AU$62.99 per year but you can explore the app for free without signing up.

Mount Burnmore

Fitness fanatics look away now: for those that find exercise really boring, and their get up and go often gets up and goes while they stay sedentary. Mount Burnmore could be the answer to that lethargy: it turns fitness into a game.

The concept is quite clever. Mount Burnmore depends on “active energy”, which it pulls from the Health app: the more calories you’ve burned, the more active energy you have in the game.

When you have sufficient energy you can attempt to solve the game’s puzzles, which involve finding routes around the titular mountain, collecting in-game items and smashing things with a pickaxe.

There’s a Complication that enables you to see your progress without launching the full game, and the app makes good use of the Digital Crown to help you navigate around larger levels later in the game. There are also leaderboards to compare with other players and in-game challenges to win freebies.

It’s bright, breezy and a bit brash, and we suspect it’s best suited to older children rather than grown-ups – although if you do give this one to the kids you might want to disable in-app purchases, as they can be used to buy in-game items.

Happier

Mindfulness, the art of focusing on being present and aware in the world instead of being constantly distracted by things and thoughts that don’t matter, isn’t something you’d associate with the Apple Watch. If you aren’t careful with your notification settings your Watch pings away merrily all day, interrupting countless trains of thought.

But the Happier app hopes to use the Watch to make you feel better, not more harassed.

The app itself is free, but it’s designed as a gateway to paid-for mindfulness courses. If you don’t go for them you can still take advantage of the app, though. You can tell the app how you’re feeling – we suspect “meh” is the most-used option – and it then responds with uplifting quotes to help you feel a bit more optimistic.

It can pop up to remind you to take a meditation break, and you can dictate a positive thought to a private journal or to the Happier community. That’s not as daft as it sounds: there’s some evidence that keeping a journal of positive things can boost your mood over time.

Just be careful what and how you share: one iTunes reviewer says that they were able to locate their private journal with Google.

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