Withings Companion Health Mate Android App Gets Update

Withings Companion Health Mate Android App Gets Update

Nov 19, 2014

Health Mate, the companion app to Withings’ set of connected devices, has just received a pretty big update.

First and foremost, the app now takes a leaf from Google’s Material design playbook. Excerpts from the blog post detailing the update:

We’ve managed to pop the sweeter side of health right into your phone with bright colors and a new design interface! The menus are tutti frutti, the sliding effects are sweeter – and it’s all calorie free!
Enjoy this new design! You can even browse it sideways!

Every step counts
We know that there’s a link between activity levels and weight management. Instead of counting steps in your head, let Health Mate do it for you! Your smartphone can now count your steps for you if you don’t have a Withings Pulse or if you forgot it at home: simply turn on the step counting and enjoy the ride!
You’ll be able to check your activity level on the fly, and browse through your step count history. For the first time, you will be able to see how your steps are adding up, and make decisions based on this information. Will you reach the recommended 10,000 steps a day? How many badges will you unlock? Will you be first in your Leaderboard after you’ve challenged your friends? We can’t wait to see how the new update helps you and hear your feedback!

Your lifeline
The Timeline is like a new home. As soon as the app launches, you can scroll through a history of all your data. The Timeline also works as a coach providing insights, badges and weekly recaps. The Timeline is constantly updating with new content to enrich your experience and to help you improve your health. What’s not to love?

The app remains free on the Play Store.

[Source: Withings Blog]

AR Health Series: Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor Hardware Review

AR Health Series: Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor Hardware Review

Oct 30, 2014

I had the misfortune of having some serious health issues a short while ago, and, without getting overly conversational about it, it changed me. It made me take health more seriously, and one fringe benefit is that it allowed me to take a longer, more appreciative look at the burgeoning area of connected health devices.

“Burgeoning” is somewhat of an understatement; the category is exploding. As part of my personal fitness odyssey, I’ve had the privilege of trying out interesting connected gear. The Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor is one of them.

Personal blood pressure monitors are not new; I have had a generic one for quite some time. While convenient, the one drawback is the collation tool is not self-contained. I used my smartphone to collect the data via my all-round app HanDBase, and while the solution worked, I’d like a more homogeneous fix.

The Withings Wireless BP Monitor isn’t new either, but it’s a product that has continued to improve and is still defining the product category years after its inception.


The review piece Withings sent us shows the hardware in its retail glory; it’s in the familiar white and green (with chrome-ish accents) finish that Withings is familiar for. It has a prominent pre-formed cuff capable of fitting arms ranging from 9″ – 17″ and has a velcroed end that helps corral the extra strap that is part of the monitor. There is also a prominent bar that runs the vertical length of the unit that houses the batteries and presumably the bluetooth module that the unit uses to connect to devices; on this bar is an on/pairing button with LED. The unit comes with batteries already installed; the box also continues documentation.

Using the device as one getting acquainted with the companion Withings Health Mate app. When connected to the device (via Bluetooth/Bluetooth LE), the device preps to take a reading for a user registered to the device (or, a guest), and tapping “Start” does it. The cuff automatically tightens, and the cuff takes a reading; it promises accuracy within 3 mmHG on either side of a measurement, and also notes WHO systolic grades.

The companion app also serves as a health hub, allowing users to connect other Withings devices to it (like the Withings scale, and consequently allowing for a better health portrait to be created.

One thing I think the monitor could do better is be more like the Scale in its ability to gather seamless readings; as it is, it can only be initiated from within the app, unlike the scale, which can take readings with auto-detect capabilities that can be confirmed later. Also, the connection can be stubborn at times. I also would appreciate the ability to share batches of data via the app rather than single readings.

All in all, it is still a relevant piece of hardware. It isn’t the cheapest investment ($129 on Amazon), but does have the benefit of being relatively well thought out.

AR Health Series: Ssmart Dynamo Activity Tracker Review

AR Health Series: Ssmart Dynamo Activity Tracker Review

Oct 29, 2014

As part of our ongoing health series, we explore connected health accessories with an Android connection. For an introduction to Android Rundown’s mobile health series, check out our editorial.

Health bands and smartwatches are all the rage now; there are several out in the wild, and, thankfully, several corresponding price points. Being healthy is becoming easier to incorporate in one’s lifestyle — in theory, at least. For a lot of folks, having a connected health tracker just makes sense… especially when it can be paired to a ubiquitous always-on device such as a smartphone.

Oregon Scientific is a tech company with good pedigree, and has made a name for itself in the area of personal and home electronics; it’s not too much of a stretch to see why it would throw its hat into the fitness tracker ring. the Ssmart Dynamo Activity Tracker is the fruit of this endeavor.

The Ssmart Dynamo isn’t exactly new, but the review unit shows that, at first glance, it still looks pretty relevant. Outside the box, it’s fairly sedate; the black unit is mostly constructed of hardy rubber, and looks somewhat like a faceless watch, with a logo-ed strap. The stated stats are 3.4 x 5.25 x 3.4 inches, and it weighs 0.8 ounces. It packs a built in battery, a bluetooth module and familiar sports clasp mechanism for securing it to one’s wrist. It has colored LEDs that are hidden when not in use, and there is also a button near the “top” of the device. It has a clean, deliberate feel to it, and almost begs to be put on. The review package also contains a nifty charging cable and documentation.


Prior to rocking it, the unit has to be charged. I liked the included USB cable; it does use a proprietary charging system, and its suggested that unit be charged for an hour. Then, the companion OS Dynamo App can be downloaded and paired to the unit via long-pressing the Dynamo until the requisite blue light appears. The app serves as the portal to view the collected data, and the way to track data is to do things.

The unit acts like a basic pedometer, and also measures other activities, including sleep. Measurements garnered seem a bit off, and I think this where specific modes (outside sleep) could be useful. The collated data has an on-device shelf-life of a fortnight. It’s comfortable when worn, oo.

The system works as a decent guide, but I think the sync mechanism could be more seamless. To sync data, one has to press the button for a few seconds each time. The app could be a bit more user-friendly, too. The share functionality is useful, and I like the sleep measurements, even though it must be turned on prior to falling asleep.

All in all, the Dynamo might be a tenured product, but it still works in a crowded field. For the health conscious, it can be, at the very least, a great motivator.

UltimEyes: a Mobile App That Claims to Improve Vision?

UltimEyes: a Mobile App That Claims to Improve Vision?

Apr 21, 2014


Claim that a mobile app can restore eyesight to a better state is a bold one to make, but it’s exactly what UltimEyes suggests. It provides a number of exercises that allegedly help people who have to wear glasses and who have trouble reading in the dim light. The app can be purchased here: UltimEyes on Google Play.

Family Medical Info Review

Family Medical Info Review

Oct 10, 2012

For folks with kids, Family Medical Info from Appventure is a compelling app to have.

Picture this: I was at doctor’s visit with the kids. Usually, my wife usually has doctor duty, but due to a last second change to her schedule, it was officially “once in a blue moon.” I had to fill out more paperwork than an IRS accountant, and couldn’t remember the answers. How am I supposed to remember ALL the birthdays? Allergies too? Seriously?

Family Medical Info takes the guesswork and guilt out of recalling medical histories for the entire family.

As far as the user interface goes, I found there were not a whole of frills; just enter the data and get it done. It allowed me to enter a host of information: physical stats, picture and medical details. After entering the physical stats and blood type, I was able to notate allergies, current medications, doctor information and the (most important to hospital staff) insurance. Very handy, but I also liked the ability to share specific info by email.

Family Medical Info also syncs with Appventure stablemate ICE: In Case of Emergency. ICE collates personal data for first responders and emergency room staffers. It’s easy to see how both sets of software could go hand in hand.

The obvious question that FMI raised for me was whether it is reasonable to think that, say, an EMT will scroll through a phone for medical info. Well, I guess I could always put in a note under my personal info to check the app. Or I could put an icon on my lockscreen. But then, did I want anyone else to get access to all of my family’s medical information? Fun questions, but I’d rather medical people potentially have access to my information than not, and the smartphone is a s good as any place for them to check.

I though FMI could actually use a bit more scenery UI-wise. I appreciated the business-like approach, but since this app almost calls for multi-device use, I figured just a little dash of the whimsical could help it seem a bit more welcoming.

At its simplest, FMI is a great tool that let me centralize needed information and make life easier. Beyond that, it could be of use during a medical emergency. That, dear friends, is plenty of upside.

Max Capacity Training Review

Max Capacity Training Review

Apr 5, 2012

Getting in shape takes time. Many people these days do not have 2 hours a day to spend at the local health club to keep in shape. Most people have a spare 16 minutes 3 times a week though.

Max Capacity Training gives the person on a time budget a great alternative to start a workout routine without a gym membership. None of the exercises require weights. Some examples are squats, push-ups, lunges and dips. These and the other parts of the routines only use body weight.

Each day is broken down into 4 exercises. Depending on the week, the duration of each exercise will vary. There are 3 different workout types; 1 style per week and repeated every 3 weeks.

  • Fifty-Ten Protocol – Perform each exercise for 50 seconds non-stop. There is a 5 second break between exercises. When all 4 exercises in 1 round are completed, there is a 10 second rest before the next round of the same exercises start.
  • Tabata Protocol – The same exercises from the previous week are performed in 20 second bursts with a 10 second rest between each round. There are 8-20 second rounds of a single exercise before moving on to the next exercise.
  • Time Attack Protocol – This is a week of beating previous accomplishments. The goals are a combination of Day 1 score plus Day 4 score multiplied by 3. The goals can be auto calculated when scores are shared on Facebook through the Max Capacity Training app or on their webpage. The idea for for the 3rd week is to complete the goals as quickly as possible instead of a pre-determined time. After the 3rd week of a routine is finished, there are a new routine for the next 3 weeks.
  • Busy parents and anyone who travels frequently can appreciate Max Capacity Training. Because there are no weights required and the time to perform the routine is minimal, there aren’t many excuses for not getting in better shape. The hard part is forming the exercise habit. On the Max Capacity Training website, people post comments (via Facebook) with their scores. This is a great motivator and can add a bit of accountability while you are getting in the habit of working out.

    Endomondo Sports Tracker Pro Review

    It seems that these days we are living in a health-and-fitness awareness boom. You can get microchips in your sneakers to track your running for goodness sake! But not all of us have the money to throw into robot shoes, especially if we’ve already put the bulk of our money toward a smartphone. So it’s pretty natural then to assume that our phones would be willing to assist us in our fitness tracking, and we are not wrong. Endomondo is the second fitness tracker I’ve tried using, and I can say it’s a pretty tough act to beat.

    I had been signed up with and using RunKeeper for a while, and while it’s nice to fall back on the familiar, I was also ready to take a look at the new. Signing up for an account was easy, and the app didn’t take long to download, although for the sake of testing it out I did hesitate for a moment over the $4.18CAD price. But since I’ve started using it I’ve been in love, and have even renounced RunKeeper all together.

    The app’s main screen gives you your most basic options: Type of Workout, Music On/Off (with the option of some songs provided by the app, or of playing your own podcasts/music library), and the immediate Start or 10 Seconds Countdown options. GPS, unless disabled, automatically begins plotting out the route you’re taking and uploading it to your profile on the website. Further settings options give you an Audio Coach (giving you your time and distance values at set intervals), and even the option to allow your friends to send you Pep Talks if they see that you are actively exercising. Great for people training for marathons. There is also a secondary screen you can flip over to with a map showing your current location. Helpful to track yourself but also (if you get lost easily like me) to keep yourself on target.

    Basic Workout gives you another host of options. You can set a goal to reach, set a goal against that of a friend’s time or a previous time of your own, or enter a route that you want to follow. During warm weather I’m an outdoor runner but during chillier times I resort to a treadmill/elliptical combo at the gym. GPS isn’t a viable tracking option then, so the final option of Manual Entry is essential for me. You can plug in Type of activity, Duration, and Distance Covered and it will all be added into your calendar of completed activities. Sweet and simple and covers all the bases.

    It’s hard to praise the app without mentioning its parents site, so let me just say that Endomondo itself is wonderful. It has a very clear and intuitive display for your workout stats, as well as a constantly updating display of all of the other users who are currently out for their own workouts. It’s like Twitter, but for jogging. As well the option of sporting activities that you can chose from when embarking is stunning. Everything from the standard Walking, Running and Cycling, all the way to Pilates and Star Climbing to Yoga and Martial Arts. Plug in the time you spent on the activity and it will generate for you an approximate value for the calories you’ve spent. Those calories are then awesomely added up to give you values for Trips Around The World or To The Moon you’ve virtually completed, or more realistically how many Hamburgers Burned off. These stats are only viewable on the main site, but all of those sporting activities are options within the app itself.

    In terms of cons, I feel a little silly reporting that my biggest complaint is that Elliptical (as I know it) is labelled as Cross-Training in the app and on the site. That term means something else to me, and so only the tiny icon of a person on an elliptical clued me in that it was the option I was looking for. otherwise it’s been smooth sailing. Which is, by the way, an activity option!

    Multi Reps Review

    Multi Reps Review

    Feb 1, 2011

    Next up is an app for all the “girlie men” out there trying to get out of their contracts with Mr. Beer Belly. Multi Reps by Androiders is a “Health & Fitness” app designed to help users create and track multi-rep routines. Listed multi-rep routines include: “Push-ups,” “Sit-ups,” “Squats,” “Dips,” and “Generic.” These are simply reference names and can be edited to fit the users needs.

    I fired up Multi Reps and actually began to feel enthusiastic to begin a daily routine of push-ups. The app is slick with nice large polished icons for easy identification. I decided to give the automatic routine generator a try. Set up was extremely easy and only requires a few user inputs. I went for a current max of 20, a goal of 50 with a fitness level of average and a routine length of 5 weeks.