News


Guardian for your wrist: ECG, irregular heartbeat notification added to Apple Watch in Canada

Customers can take an ECG reading with Apple Watch Series 4 at any time. (Apple)

As health statistics and wellness becomes a larger priority for Apple and their suite of tech offerings, the company is launching the ECG, or electrocardiogram, and irregular heartbeat notifications in Canada.

New electrodes in Apple Watch Series 4 now enable customers to take an ECG directly from the wrist. (Apple)

The features, which have been available in the U.S. last year and in the E.U. in March, comes to Canada and Singapore on Apple Watch Series 4 via a software update.

The ECG function, on Apple Watch with a Medical Device License from Health Canada, will capture an electrocardiogram when a user prompts a record upon feeling symptoms (i.e. rapid or skipped heart beat). This allows users to capture information in the moment for review by a physician. It’s important to note that the device does not check for heart attacks.

All recordings, their associated classifications and any noted symptoms are stored securely in the Health app on iPhone. (Apple)

“We’ve seen the ECG App and irregular rhythm notifications on Apple Watch have meaningful impact on our customers across the United States, Europe and Hong Kong,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said in a news release. “We are excited to bring these features to customers in Canada, giving them access to empowering information about their heart health.”

Apple Watch Series 1 or later with watchOS 5.3 sends a notification if an irregular heart rhythm such as AFib is identified. (Apple)

Additionally, the irregular rhythm notification is being rolled out to all Apple Watch users (Series 1 and later), leveraging the optical heart sensor to notify users if it detects a rhythm that can appear as an atrial fibrillation (or AFib).

Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation estimates AFib affects over 350,000 Canadians, adding that it causes one-third of all strokes over the age of 60.

As these devices become more common in the Canadian market, the tech giant is hoping it can equip users with tools to help healthcare professionals detect and diagnose health issues, marking a significant next chapter in Apple’s venture in health data—stored on device and private to the user.


Technology unlocking power of winter sport in Whistler

I’ve been an avid Apple Watch user for years. It’s a great device for surfacing notifications, weather, events, and health information, but I have to admit I’ve yet to fully unlock the power of the workout app and features. 

Being a beginner skier, on a recent trip to Whistler, B.C., I put the technology through its paces to see if it could really help me on the slopes. Pro skiers like Canada’s own gold medalists Brady Leman and Marielle Thompson train with Apple Watch, so I put it to the test!

Putting the technology through its paces.

App feature: snoww

The app I started with is aptly named, snoww. Its approach is whimsical in design, functional in features, and friendly in competition. It loads on iPhone and Apple Watch, and directly on your wrist, you can start, pause, and end ski and snowboard tracking at a tap of a button. 

Winston starting the ski tracking on Apple Watch. Case pictured: Canadian-designed HITCASE.

“We designed snoww thinking about quick interactions and glances while out on the mountain,” said Eddy Healey, developer of snoww. “[It’s] easy to record accurate, relevant metrics as well as create a fun and social experience for our users.”

While on the slopes, users can see relevant information like distance, time, total runs, maximum speed, vertical gain, as well as a great way to find your friends should you split up. Whistler is a vast ski resort with dozens of runs, so being able to track my friends’ whereabouts is a powerful tool socially, but critical from a safety perspective, too. 

Speaking of safety, Apple Watch really lives up to the “guardian on your wrist” mandate while on the hills. Emergency SOS is an option that surfaces when Apple Watch detects a hard fall. Users have a limited time to respond to a haptic notification before emergency services are contacted, and on the snoww itself, skiers can see in a one-view where friends are in realtime, meaning you can see which direction they’re headed and check their battery and signal levels.

GALLERY: snoww

From a social perspective, like Twitter or Facebook, you can follow your favourites to compete in leaderboards, earn trophies, compare statistics, and my favourite, use the walkie talkie app within Apple Watch to send short voice messages to one another without texting or making a lengthy phone call. Lastly, upload and share memories with friends on a photo stream within the snoww app. 

Wrapping up the day on the slopes.

Après ski recovery

After I hit the slopes, I took a chance to recover with some yoga. While it’s a good opportunity to put away the stresses of social media and frequent notifications of our smartphones, there is room for technology and fitness tracking. 

Getting ready to do yoga.

Apple Watch intuitively gives yogis credit where credit’s due through the precision of heart-rate tracking and accurate active caloric burn—allowing you to focus on being zen, and less about keeping track. It will give you only the information you need, and the rest—the distracting stuff—is put away.

Hitting the trails

Finally, to help you close those rings, running is an activity that runs circles around other fitness trackers. It takes things way further than steps earned, providing deeper analysis like rolling mile, active calories, cadence, pace alert, and high/low heart rate.

Ultra marathoner Ray Zahab empowers technology to help identify routes, surface weather and safety alerts, and even provide entertainment through his AirPods. 

On my run with friends, we used Apple Watch to take us through the paths near Lost Lake, trails into the woods, and navigate rolling terrain to discover the true beauty of British Columbia. 

Bottom line

Technology shouldn’t get in the way of what you do, especially when it comes to fitness. It should complement and intuitively provide the information you need to optimally enhance your experience. And that’s exactly what Apple Watch does well—being that guardian looking after your health, safety, and keeping you connected.


Time to write my next chapter 1

YOUTUBE/BREAKFAST TELEVISION TORONTO

Over five years ago, when I was asked to join the Breakfast Television family, I knew I was embarking on a life-changing journey. In so many ways, I knew I’d be able to grow on-air, as a digital strategist, and journalist. I was excited to step up to the challenge and advance my career in ways so many other greats have at Citytv, too.

Along the way, I met many new friends, strengthened relationships, and tried new things.

Citytv is home—it’s where it all started, where my friends and family are, and also where I succeeded and failed. I’ve been privileged to work on projects like the GRAMMY Awards and TIFF. We built a relationship where we could have an open dialogue on air every morning. I couldn’t have picked a better place to cultivate this chapter of my career.

And while Citytv is where I called home, sometimes in order to grow and learn, you need move away. It’s not an easy decision, but you need to follow your gut and take some risks.

This is not a goodbye but it’s a see you later. I have a couple fun projects bubbling away and I can’t wait to share more with you. As you all know, I’m really passionate for tech, travel, food, and entertainment.

I want to thank a few people for taking a chance on me. Jordan Schwartz for seeing something in me, my follow co-hosts past and present for championing and pushing me to grow, producers and crew I’ve shared countless laughs with, Rogers Media for allowing me the platform to build a rewarding career, and to you, the viewers at home, for welcoming me to your breakfast table every morning.

Tomorrow is my last day on Breakfast Television. As always, thank you for the love and support.

With love, 
Winston


12 things you need to know from Apple’s WWDC keynote announcement

Apple held their annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference in San Jose, Calif. Monday, where a slew of software updates were announced. While there was no new hardware announced at their annual keynote address by CEO Tim Cook and team, developers were left with new features to sink their teeth into.  Here’s a brief recap:

iOS 12

Augmented Reality
The tech giant is doubling down on performance with the latest iteration of its mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad. On iOS 12, the next generation of its augmented reality tool set, ARKit 2, was introduced, alongside a new ‘Measure’ app that enables users to get measurements of real-world items—all without a ruler or tape measure.

APPLE

Screen Time/Down Time
Screen Time will offer users a way to see how actively they use their device. Through a central dashboard, insights like device use time, time spent in specific apps, and regular reports sent out means users can see how much time they really spend on Instagram. This will be something that appeals to parents. Down Time will introduce the ability for device managers (like mom and dad) to limit access to specific apps, category of apps, or the entire device from certain periods of the day, or once a set threshold is reached. Sorry, kids!

APPLE

Animojis become more personal
Remember those animoji characters announced back in September? They are emojis brought to life using AR technology on iPhone X. The next step brings—ready for it?—Memoji to your repertoire. Users will design their own animated version of themselves—almost like a Bitmoji—and using iPhone’s front-facing camera, you’ll see the character come to life, mimicking your facial expressions, including tongue movements.
Group FaceTime
The video chatting service brings multiple parties together in a group video chat—up to 32 people to be specific. Active speakers’ tiles are made larger and smaller, while quiet participants are shelved. Chats can then utilize the Memoji effects, as well as a whole host of stickers and filters.

APPLE

watchOS 5

Automatic workout detection
In the new operating system for Apple Watch, for those who use it to work out, technology including the built-in heart rate sensor will automatically detect when you start a work out. It will alert you, and once accepted will retroactively record the fitness data.  This is powerful for people like me who forget to activate a new workout more often than not.
Walkie-Talkie
Yes, it’s back—and it’s cool again. But it’s the 21st-century watch version. Once you accept the connection with your desired family and friends, you can tap to record a short audio message, and it is transmitted to their device. A fun way to tell your kids, “Dinner’s ready!”

APPLE

No more “Hey Siri”
With the improved Siri Apple Watch face, users can now raise to activate Siri, without saying the words “Hey Siri.”
tvOS 12
Dolby Atmos surround sound support
Apple announced they are rolling out improvements to sound quality on Apple TV 4K, with integration of Dolby Atmos surround sound. Users with an enabled sound bar or speaker system will see an improvement, with upgraded media like movies to be pushed through iTunes automatically.

macOS 10.14 Mojave

Your privacy, first
The tech giant announced their new operating system, macOS 10.14 Mojave. The California road trip continues. Apple was quick to highlight privacy is at the forefront of user data, from mail to messages. Surprisingly, on Safari, updates will shut down Facebook tracking and ad targeting, forcing users to opt-in before they can use share/like buttons—the traditional source of ad tracking.
Dark Mode
The audience ooh’d and ahh’d for this one. Dark Mode is coming to macOS 10.14 Mojave. It is an adaptive mode that can dim your user experience to make being productive easier on the eyes at night. This is similar to the ’Night mode’ experience on the Twitter app.
Clean up your desktop with organization tools
New organization tools will help keep the clutter off your desktop. You can finally reclaim your wallpaper! Using ’stacks,’ macOS will sort and group materials by type. Photos, documents, videos, etc. For those who have a method to their madness, there will be a way to customize this function accordingly.
Rebuild of Mac App Store
In an attempt to better integrate Mac applications with its successful App Store ecosystem, Apple has rebuilt their App Store from the ground up, breaking app discovery down by ‘Create,’ ‘Work,’ ‘Play,’ and ‘Develop.’

Apple updates iMac, MacBook lines; doubles down on performance

Apple refreshed its line of Mac computers at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., Monday, including the iMac desktop – a device the tech giant hasn’t updated in almost two years. Manufacturers typically renew computers at least yearly to stay relevant.

featuredimage-1024x684

iMac reimagined on the inside, not out

Not much has changed on the exterior, but the first thing you do notice when powering on is the vibrancy of the display – boasting a beautiful 4K display and 5K display in the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs, respectively. These displays are 43 per cent brighter than its predecessor at 500 nits with support for one billion colours. Essentially, you’re guaranteeing yourself a vivid picture with whatever you’re doing.

The thin bezel of the new Apple iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The thin bezel of the new Apple iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

From a performance perspective, Apple has heavily invested in the Intel Kaby Lake seventh-generation Core i5 processor as standard, with an option to upgrade to Core i7. Measured against the previous-generation model, the new iMac will allow for three-times-faster gaming on the 21.5-inch model.

iMac pushes the envelope in storage with the evolution of the Fusion Drive across the 27-inch line and on the high-end 21.5-inch 4K computer, adding higher-capacity memory. Fusion Drives allow users to access frequently used documents, photos, videos, on a flash drive, eliminating spinning disks of the traditional hard drive. It means fewer parts to break down. I’d like to see a move to this being standard on all desktops.

Available ports on the 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

Available ports on the 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

Users will find plenty of connectivity on the 27-inch iMac, and unlike iPhone 7, there’s still a headphone jack, alongside four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 (a.k.a. USB-C for everyone else), a Gigabit Ethernet, and an SD card port. This allows for added displays, high-speed hard drive connectivity, and other third-party accessories.

Among the updates from the conference include a peek at the next iteration of the Mac platform – macOS High Sierra – chock-a-block full of new toys for developers to create immersive experiences for users, like virtual reality. However, the upgrade won’t be available until the fall.

MacBook Pro: Building on its success

The previous generation of MacBook Pro made the laptop much thinner and lighter. Plus, the integration of a fluid and interactive Touch Bar and Touch ID fingerprint reader has been surprisingly useful — not just a gimmick — and the 2017 version builds on that.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The upgrades bring a routine processor and hard drive boost. Machines will see the same Intel Kaby Lake processor as its desktop counterparts, as well as faster solid-state drives, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro will have snappier graphics out of the gate.

The notebook could benefit from an added USB 3.0 port for so many existing devices while still offering flexibility in the increasingly popular USB-C port. I also miss the SD card reader. Can there be a balance struck with ports, or lack thereof?

 

The OLED-lit Touch Bar on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The OLED-lit Touch Bar on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

As for the OLED-lit Touch Bar that offers virtual buttons that react to the specific program you’re in, the technology continues to be unique in its class. I’d like to see exponential growth of adoption by third-party developers for it to be a real hit. But for the apps that currently utilize this, it’s fantastic.

 

The Force Touch trackpad on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The Force Touch trackpad on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

 

With the last MacBook Pro, I had some issues with the shallow-but-tactile butterfly keyboard sticking. Apple has made some improvements to address reported problems with switch keys.

Other standard updates include increased speed and longer battery life. A larger Force Touch trackpad that reacts to the amount of pressure given to surface different actions remains.

MacBook receives a minor—but needed—spec bump

The new entry-level MacBook. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The new entry-level MacBook. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The entry-level MacBook remains one of Apple most popular laptops. It’s small in form and packs a punch as an ultraportable device, though it’s not as powerful as its sibling MacBook Pro. It gets the job done if you’re a parent just looking to surf the web and answer emails.

The entry-level laptop will get a boost in processor gigahertz, albeit minor at 1.2GHz dual-core, but when you’re working with less than 1.5 GHz to start with, every bit counts — even when you simply have a handful of web browser windows open.

In addition, the new solid-state drives are 50 per cent faster than its predecessor — rounding out a machine many students will no doubt adopt come September.

Availability

The new MacBook and MacBook Pro machines are available now.

A pro version of the iMac—aptly named iMac Pro—was announced Monday, but will not be available for sale until December. The updated classic line is available today.