Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Moto C Plus

The Motorola C Plus is a budget friendly phone. Yet, don't let the price fool you into thinking that this is not a capable phone. Inside the phone, you will find a quad-core 1.3 GHz processor and 2GB of RAM. Built-in, there's 16GB of storage. But what is most useful for this device, I believe, is the 4000 mAh removable battery! Yes, 4000!!! This phone will go on and on the whole day with some left over power for the next day! And what's more, the battery is removable so you can actually buy a second one and you will virtually never run out of juice!

And speaking of charging, this is the very first smartphone that I reviewed that is charged at the top of the phone. That was a bit disconcerting at the beginning...

There is on board camera and it shoots 8MP stills and 720p HD videos. Of course, a selfy camera is also present. However, the pictures get noisy in low-light situations, though that is to be expected in a budget-friendly phone. The phone can shoot panoramas and HDR photos also. And of course, all your photos will be geotagged.

The phone has a 5-inch display which make watching videos a pleasant experience. The speaker at the back of the phone is loud enough. However, you should not put the phone down while you're watching a video or listening to music because the speaker at the back will be muted.

The phone comes pre-installed with Android 7.0 Nougat. The internal storage can be increased using a micro-SD card of up to 32GB. Of course, the phone can connect via cellular LTE data and via wi-fi.

If you are someone who wants to move from a bar/dumb phone, or if you want to try the Android ecosystem without breaking the bank, or if you want a second phone to complement your main phone, the Moto C Plus is a very good phone to consider. It has most of the bells and whistles of mid-end phones and you won't be spending too much for it.

And, no, there's no reason why this phone shouldn't be your primary phone. :)

The Moto C Plus retails at 6,300 Pesos.

Photos shot with an iPhone 7 using the iOS app Hipstamatic

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Excerpt from My Review of the Fitbit Alta HR on Esquire Philippines

I am a firm believer that everyone wants to be healthy. Yes. Even when we give in to that extra serving on crispy pata or an extra scoop of ice cream, I believe everyone tries to look for the better version of themselves, healthwise. For me, a quantified-self is one way to know how healthy I am and it starts with technology.

The Fitbit Alta HR, I found, can help me towards that path.

Let's break down the science: When you exercise, you put your heart to work. And when it's working hard, your heart becomes a healthier and hardier. Every time you do at least 30 minutes of continuous workout, your heart gets better. You don’t even have to do 5K marathons to get the benefits. Just walking briskly for 30 minutes (yes, brisk window shopping counts) will do wonders for your body. You just have to make sure that your heart beat gets high enough for you to reap the benefits.

To read the rest of my review please click the link below:

Also, here are some more photos!

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Using Cardiogram with the Apple Watch

I overheard this statement while I was in one of the authorized Apple resellers here in Metro Manila:
"What would you need an Apple Watch for if you already have the phone in your hand?"
My first reaction to that statement was anger for the "sheer ignorance of that lady!!!" Then, my emotion shifted to smugness, telling myself that, "Says the one who doesn't have an Apple Watch!" Then, and lastly, I stopped for a moment, took a deep breath and did some introspection... I asked myself, "Why am I really using an Apple Watch for? What is really its use for me aside from being a beautiful piece of ornament?"

So, I dug deep for the answer and I found what I've always wanted from the Apple Watch: to be a fitness tracker and to be, on limited occasions, a notifier.

I’ll discuss the notification part first to get it out of the way… I don't want to be inundated with notifications from different apps. I don't want to be notified about the latest like on my Facebook or Instagram. I don't want to be notified about the latest trending tweet about someone who wants to end the world. Those things can wait - the end of the world can wait, at least for the next two minutes or so... And I've read somewhere that the best middle ground is to make it so that most of the notifications will not show up on the locked screen; don't let likes push through, don't let tweets show, only let emails and texts from assigned VIP call for your attention. Turn off everything except the most necessary.

And I did just that. So, my Apple Watch is not serving as a notifications machine anymore. (Not even my iPhone is serving as a notifications machine now…) So, what am I using it for?

It turned out I stumbled upon that answer a long, long time ago: I use the Apple Watch for fitness-related activities and I discussed that heartily in my review of the Apple Watch found here.

However, relying on the built-in, first party watch app Activity and iOS app Health will not get you anywhere. Yes, closing the rings is fun and all, but when you want to see the details of how your day went, then you are lost. And when you click on one of your workouts, you will only get a summary of your workout and not the finer details, like what your heart rate was, say, 5 minutes into your run, or in the 20th minute, etc. Yes, you can get badges, but you will not be able to see the details of your workout. The same is true for the whole picture: You will be able to see your latest heart rate reading but if you want to see your heart rate five minutes ago, then you will have to dig into the Health app. And it's not intuitive to use the Health app. There's no easy way to look at your health data.

You can't even tell what your resting heart rate is nor your VO2max! Oh, and did you know that the Apple Watch only measures your heart rate when you are not moving? The only other time it measures your heart rate full time is when you are doing a workout...

That is why I find the Fitbit, specifically the Charge 2, still, as one of the best fitness tracker around. It even measures your heart rate 24/7.

However, using a third party app will make the Apple Watch's capability really close to that of the Fitbit app. An example is the Cardiogram app. And best of all, Cardiogram is free!

Yes, one of the best health app in the App Store is free!!!

With this app, you can see a graph of your day. And, of course, a graph is one of the best way to show a summary of data. You can click on the graph and see what the value of your heart rate is for that time. You can expand the graph to see finer details on how your day went.

It even tells you what your resting heart rate is and how your heart performed during your workouts. It tells you where your heart rate zone is when you do exercises, like if you are in the Fat Burn Zone, in the Cardio Zone or in the Peak Zone (the app actually divides the zones into 5: very light, light, moderate, hard and maximum. However, I consider only the last three as the important ones when you work out.)

And how do you enjoy the benefits of using the app in your fitness journey? Well, nothing really. Just wear your watch as much as possible, including when you go to sleep. The app will automatically track your day for you - the Cardiogram app makes the Apple Watch a more compelling fitness tracker!

So, am I saying the Apple Watch is essentially useless without this app? No. I'm saying that the Apple Watch would be much, much better with it!

Would I be parting with my Fitbit because of this? No. As far as fitness is concerned, the Fitbit is still the better all-in-one package - you would need to use several apps for the Apple Watch to mimic what the Fitbit can do on its own. And yes, no app in the iOS App Store can determine your VO2max and how fit you are (or at least the closest approximation...).

So, to that lady who said "What would you need the Apple Watch for if you already have your phone in your hand?" I'd say to her, "for fitness purposes. You will not regret it."

Actually, I'll go one further: get a fitness tracker, anything, any brand; an Apple Watch, a Fitbit, a Garmin, an Android watch. Get something that has a heart rate monitor and you will be able to reap the benefits of owning one. And who knows, one day, it might save your life.

You can download the Cardiogram app here!

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