Over the past year, taking care of ourselves has become a priority for a lot of us. Eating healthier, getting a good amount of sleep, being mindful, and working out will not just make us less susceptible to diseases now and in the long run, they also help relieve stress and avoid bouts of lethargy in our day to day.
As a beginner, exercise will always seem daunting — or even feel like a chore. This is why fitness apps are now more comprehensive than ever, offering guides for different kinds of physical activities to cater to people’s different needs and lifestyles.
Whether you’re a mom of a toddler who thinks she doesn’t have time for working out, or a workaholic who wants to spice up her rather drab routine, here are some of the best workout apps for iOS that you can try at home to help you start creating healthier habits.
US$ 9.99 per month / US$ 79.99 per year
Apple’s very own Fitness+ doesn’t require a separate app, but you do need an Apple Watch and either an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV to access the workouts within the Fitness app.
You can choose from different sets of workouts: HIIT, core, strength training, yoga, dance, treadmill, rowing, cycling, mindful cooldown. There are also options to sort by trainer, duration, and music.
Apart from its seamless integration with the Apple Watch, the biggest draw of Fitness+ are the high production value, diverse set of trainers, and integration with Apple Music.
With 21 different personalities to choose from, you’re sure find one that you will enjoy working out with. My personal favorites are Bakari for HIIT, Jessica for yoga and mindful cooldown, and Kyle for core and strength workouts.
In each class, the trainer walks you through each move that you are doing. A brief warmup and cooldown are also included in every workout.
Having songs you love play in the background makes a grueling 30-minute HIIT actually exciting. It especially helps that the trainers encourage you to sing or dance to the songs during recovery.
US$ 14.99 per month / US$ 99.99 per year
Sometimes watching a video of someone doing push ups is not necessary. Aaptiv packs all the motivation you need to work out in audio-only classes tailored to your needs.
The beautifully designed UI helps make working out less daunting. Upon signing up, you are asked what your fitness level is, what kind of workouts you’re interested in, length of classes that you prefer, what equipment you have, and one healthy habit the app can help you build. Choose from foam roll, work on your core, master the plank, do squats, do push-ups.
Based on your answers, you then get a weekly personalized coach plan. There are also guided programs, team challenges, and playlists of great music.
Nike Training Club
If being in a virtual class isn’t your cup of tea, Nike Training Club has a good selection of routines that you can easily follow.
You can search workouts based on your needs. Whether you’re looking to improve endurance, mobility, or strength, routines with dumbbells, or those that target specific muscle group, the app has you covered.
One of my favorite features that’s not available on the other apps mentioned here, is the use of the Apple Watch’s haptics. This allows you to focus on doing each rep, instead of looking at your screen to check the time. Getting your form right — including your neck’s position — is important in maximizing results.
My other favorite feature: The app is free!
US$ 12.99 per month
While Peloton is known for its high-end treadmill and indoor bike, its app can be downloaded by anyone. It offers different classes that don’t require any of their equipment.
No matter how busy you are, you won’t run out of options with thousands of live and on-demand workouts to choose from. Like Fitness+, Peloton workouts are accompanied by great music and energetic trainers that make exercising fun. Emma Lovewell and Adrian Williams have made strengthening my core a lot more enjoyable.
The leaderboard on the app shows other users who are simultaneously doing the workout with you. If you join any of the live classes, you might even get a shoutout from the trainer.
The app also lets you filter classes by duration, class type, instructor, or music. On days when you feel like doing cardio with Britney Spears or yoga with Elvis, know that those are options.
With more than three million members, challenges within the Peloton app help motivate you to create healthy and consistent fitness habits with other users. The Annual 2021 challenge, which tracks every active minute on all Peloton platforms, has more than one million participants as of writing.
US$ 4.99 per month / US$ 35.99 per year
If you want to virtual classes but don’t need a charismatic trainer or great background music, try Wondercise. At more than half the price of a paid subscription, this is the workout app that offers all the basics, whatever your level of fitness is.
Using its live motion matching technology, the app analyzes and maps your movements as you train by using a compatible wearable, including the Apple Watch.
Wondercise identifies how closely your movements match those of the onscreen trainer. The more similar your movements are to the trainer, the higher your score will be.
Finding a class that suits your needs is easy. Recommendations that are served to you are tailored to the fitness level and goals you indicate when signing up. This saves you time from scrolling through all the available workouts.
There is also wide range of exercises that you can try that are not available on other apps. Apart from HIIT, core, and strength training, you also get access to tai chi, MMA, kickboxing, and pilates.
Note: All five apps work seamlessly with the Apple Watch. This means that when you start a workout on your phone it automatically syncs with your Apple Watch and records your heart rate and active calories. Apart from Fitness+, all other apps can be used without an Apple Watch.
TikTok, Reels clone YouTube Shorts launches in the US
Everyone wants a piece of the pie
YouTube unveiled its short-video-making tool called Shorts last year, but it was in beta and limited to India. Shorts is now available to all creators in the US after testing them with select creators.
The initial release was quite hasty as it was supposed to bridge the vacuum left by TikTok’s ban in India. However, Instagram was much faster and well prepared to take on the challenge, dominating the turf over many local apps like Chingari, Roposo, and MX TakaTak.
YouTube is also adding a dedicated space in the bottom tab by replacing the explore button. In India, YouTube Shorts has a dedicated space on the top bar of the app. YouTube also displays Shorts in the home feed of the app after around 2-3 videos.
The goal is to incorporate a short video format in the existing app. While watching a “short”, users can tap on the music option to hear the full song via YouTube. Soon, the feature also will work the other way: From a YouTube music video, you will be able to click a “create” button right from the video to make your own Short.
Shorts will expand
The video platform’s music team has signed licensing agreements to use snippets of millions of songs from over 250 labels and publishers. It plans to expand Shorts to more markets later this year but it hasn’t specified which ones.
Ahead of the US launch, a bunch of new features has been added as well. There’s now an option to record 60-second clips in addition to the 15-second option. But users will not be able to add music from the YouTube library to 60-second Shorts. There are also new filters and effects in the YouTube Shorts camera.
In its most recent earnings report, YouTube confirmed that Shorts were generating 6.5 billion daily views, a substantial uptick over the 3.5 billion daily views that the feature was generating in late January.
After years of settling, Twitter is finally waking up to new features
There’s so many of them in 2021
Twitter has been around for a long time, and it has changed a lot since its debut. The micro-blogging platform was infamous for its 140 character limit, an intentional limitation that ensured everything on the site is short, crisp, and to the point. It’s no surprise that Twitter became the go-to website for news, independent alerts, and much more within no time.
Although, if you’ve been a Twitter user for a decade, you’ll know that the platform hasn’t changed much in all these years. Twitter did increase the length limit to 280 characters in 2017, but it had little change in the overall behavior of users. Twitter was always an easy-to-use “blog,” and it was happy being in its little inconquerable bubble.
Things are changing fast this year as Twitter aggressively adds new features and intends to open a subscription model soon. Obviously, there won’t be any change in the way we tweet or interact, but the number of features we have will surely increase. The platform is still silent about the most asked feature — the edit button on tweets. But rest assured, the classic Twitter experience isn’t going away anytime soon.
In fact, it’s going to get a lot more interesting as the platform now supports Spaces, a feature that allows users to join virtual rooms where they can engage in real-time audio conversations with others. Instead of typing, why not just talk candidly to all your followers?
Twitter began working on the audio-chat feature in November 2020, and it was available for beta and alpha users a few months ago. It’s now ready for public use, and any user with more than 600 followers can create a room and start talking. Audio-only features are the trend, and every company, including Facebook and Spotify, is doubling down on it.
Twitter has also confirmed that it is working on an upcoming feature called “Ticket Spaces.” This feature will allow users to create Spaces that require others to purchase a ticket to join. The platform has never been so keen on monetization, but the shift in strategy is clearly visible. Hosts will earn the majority of revenue from ticket sales, while Twitter will pocket a small fee.
In January 2021, Twitter discreetly acquired Revue, a Dutch startup that allows users to publish and monetize email newsletters. Just like SubStack, Revue lets you create your own newsletter and monetize it. However, what’s special here is, the newsletter is now integrated within Twitter. So, it makes it easier to persuade your existing followers to subscribe, helping you directly monetize your reach on Twitter.
The feature is already available on Twitter’s web app. Many say that a newsletter doesn’t work in Twitter’s favor, but the company tends to disagree.
“Many established writers and publishers have built their brand on Twitter, amassing an audience that’s hungry for the next article or perspective they Tweet. Our goal is to make it easy for them to connect with their subscribers while also helping readers better discover writers and their content. We’re imagining many ways to do this, from allowing people to sign up for newsletters from their favorite follows on Twitter to new settings for writers to host conversations with their subscribers. It will all work seamlessly,” said Kayvon, Product Lead at Twitter.
New functionality isn’t the only thing that’s keeping the engineers busy. The platform has always attracted controversy due to moderation, troll attacks, and indecent behavior. Thousands of accounts are removed every week to ensure community guidelines are followed to maintain a safe space for everyone.
In 2020, the company began testing a new safety mechanism that prompts users to reconsider before they reply to a tweet using “harmful” language.
If a user types out a reply with any of the language that the company has deemed harmful, they’ll see a warning message asking, “Want to review this before tweeting? We’re asking people to review replies with potentially harmful or offensive language.”
While this may not seem like much, previous reports have shown that these minor design-based hurdles help curb negativity. Based on trials, Twitter said that 34 percent of people revised their initial reply after seeing the prompt or chose not to send the reply at all.
Lastly, Twitter has changed the way its algorithm crops a picture to show it on the timeline. Now, when users tweet a photo uploaded with their iOS or Android device, it will appear in the timeline in its entirety. There’ll be no cropping, so you won’t be forced to open the picture and see all the details.
Earlier, the algorithm would determine the most sensible part of the picture, crop it, and show a preview on the feed. This prompted many to share memes that could be completely seen only when the picture is opened. Else, it could look context-free and random. While most users are cheering the minor change, many feel that the surprise element behind seeing a photo is now gone. Fair to say, it’s going to be impossible to please everyone!
Though, we’d really appreciate it if Twitter could give us an edit button as well.
Read Also: Twitter acquires ad-removing news app Scroll
Apple Music could soon support HiFi audio streaming
Launch alongside the AirPods 3?
Apple is primarily a hardware company, and a majority of its revenue comes from iPhones. However, it has actively diversified and monetized services like Apple Music. Taking a step forward, the company could soon unveil HiFi music playback on the streaming service, directly going up against niche players like Tidal.
According to Hits Daily Double, Apple Music will soon get a new tier that’ll provide higher-quality output. Interestingly, it’ll be available for just US$ 9.99, far affordable than the competition. However, this is still a rumor and should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Many other streaming companies offer HiFi music streaming, and recently, Spotify also announced its plans to provide better streaming quality. It’s not clear which markets will be among the first to get HiFi playback.
Apple Music streaming quality currently tops out at 256kbps AAC, and while that’s very crisp and clear, it’s still compressed. On the other hand, a studio-quality CD has an audio output equivalent of 9,216kbps. The difference in quality isn’t easily differentiable via an ordinary earphone and headphone, though. Audiophiles use high-end equipment that isn’t required if you’re just an average Joe wanting to listen to Taylor Swift.
The source also speculates that Apple will unveil the AirPods 3 alongside the HiFi announcement. Although, trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had gauged a launch in Q3 of 2021.
It’s also worth noting that Apple Music getting Hi-Res audio playback is practically useless because the iPhone doesn’t have a DAC (digital to analog converter), which plays a critical role in sending accurate signals to the audio device.
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