Before I get on with this review, let me paint you a more accurate picture of how I use smartwatches plus my short history with Fitbit.
I’m moderately active and I do try to be more fit by gyming and doing high-intensity interval training, but I’m not the most consistent person. On days that things get busy, or when I travel, I mostly forget about my health goals only to remember later on when I start feeling like a sack of potatoes because of all the inactivity.
I usually have a wearable as I’ve found that guilting myself to exercise can be an effective way to get my lazy butt to the gym; I loved my time with the Fitbit Alta HR which was the first fitness tracker I actually stuck with (at least by my standards). For a health tracking beginner (which I was at that point, and probably still am considering I haven’t really been true to my fitness goals), the Fitbit app was a great and easy way to check out my stats.
Now, when the Ionic was unveiled, I was quite excited about the idea of a Fitbit smartwatch, but it just wasn’t quite for me.
This newest release, the Versa, is small, sleek, and cute with its rose gold face. This is the Fitbit wearable I was waiting for.
Here are my thoughts on this device.
Look and feel
In the looks department, this wearable is a definite departure from the previously released Ionic. I can tell you now that the one deal-breaker I had with that watch is how it looks. Surely, I couldn’t be expected to wear that clunky thing 24/7?
The Fitbit Versa, on the other hand, is something I could get on board with, in fact, it hasn’t left my wrist in the last weeks I’ve had it. It’s light, sleek, and it comes in rose gold! It matches everything I own, which is a definite plus for me.
My unit is the special edition Versa that came with a cute purple woven straps and basic black silicone straps, both of which I’ve loved so far. I do get a little jealous of the pink silicone strap that the standard edition Versa came with, though replacement straps are also available in a number of styles and colors.
There are three different face options: Rose gold if you’re a fan of color, like me, and black or gray, if you’re looking for a more neutral look.
I’m honestly feeling pretty confident with this Fitbit look. Most outfits can and will match the Versa aesthetic.
Navigation and OS
There are three buttons for navigation and you can also navigate via gestures or tapping around on the touchscreen. Swipe down for phone notifications, up for the day’s fitness statistics, and left to get to the menu. Both buttons on the right act as customizable shortcut buttons and the left button acts as a home or back button.
Although the screen is bright and colors are punchy, there’s still a tiny lag when you wake the screen and its raise to wake function isn’t as sensitive as I’d like. When you get past this, however, navigating through menus is a breeze.
It still works the same way: The watch connects to the Fitbit app on your phone and the app allows you to better customize settings on your device. It also gives you a better and more detailed breakdown of the info you have.
Like I mentioned earlier, the Fitbit app is my first-ever fitness tracking app. I personally love it for its ease and simplicity. On this app, all health info gathered is presented in a way that’s understandable, even for a beginner. It runs on both Android and iOS so there are definitely #noexcuses for slacking off.
What can it do?
Like other Fitbit wearables, the Versa will track everything you do — from number of steps, to active minutes or exercise, calories burned, sleep, and even your continuous heartbeat. You can input your food, water, and caffeine intake on the app so you can keep tabs on that, too. You can also set and customize daily goals in the app to make sure you’re reminded of your fitness aspirations and get moving.
For those who aren’t so versed in workouts and exercises, the Versa has a built-in coach that gives you quick, timed exercises you can start with. Yes, the watch will literally show you what to do and time you as you go through the workout.
You can also set up exercise shortcuts for seven activities you’d want to track. I love that interval training is one of them. I used to need my phone and a separate app that timed my home HIIT exercise, but now, I only need the Versa. It guides me through my workout with mild vibrations every time a set is done and automatically records everything when I’m finished.
Now, on good days, I get my butt up and work on my serotonin levels. But, let’s be real: I’m not made to be pumped up about working out on all days. Some days (note: most of them), I still have to force myself. This is where Fitbit Labs comes in. The “Fitbit Research initiative” creates fun apps and watch faces that will help you get moving. A favorite of mine are these pet faces — yes, these virtual pets get sad and hungry when you don’t feed them food that you earn from steps or moving.
Amazingly, the promise of four-day battery life holds true. Despite all these functions, my watch has consistently lasted me four days, or even more when notification alerts are turned off.
Fitbit OS 2.0: What’s new?
This month, Fitbit 2.0 rolled out. A quick update will give you the new Fitbit OS but be warned: The process takes time and it can get glitchy. It took me a few tries and the realization that connecting my Versa directly to Wi-Fi is the best way to go about updating.
The two most notable new features are quick replies and female health tracking. I’ve been particularly excited about the latter as I’ve long wanted an all-around health app that integrates my menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, this feature is only available on iPhones as of now. Fitbit says Android support is coming soon, hopefully.
Quick replies, on the other hand, allow you to reply to messages straight from your Versa. These replies, however, are limited to pre-set messages that you can customize per app. This feature is only available on Android devices as Apple doesn’t allow that level of customization (boo). Cool as this feature may be, it still has to be pointed out that other smartwatches have allowed for custom replies for a while now. Thing is, I never really ever reply using my smartwatch — because why would I even bother struggling with that tiny screen since I can just get on my phone — so this didn’t really bother me.
Is the Fitbit Versa for you?
I’ve always said that wearables, especially ones you use for fitness tracking, need to be on you at all times to be able to do their job well. This has always proved to be a struggle for me as I’ve only seen a handful that look nice enough to wear every day with my different outfit moods. The Versa seems designed to overcome this personal daily wear struggle: It’s cute enough, it’s light, and it packs enough battery power. These are the same reasons why this thing is on my wrist, still.
Worth it to note though, that there are still a number of things that can be improved on this device: A higher level of customization, more compatible apps, fewer screen lags, and an easier update process.
The thing is, despite all these flaws, the Fitbit Versa ticks most of my tiny boxes. I’m not the most exacting when it comes to smartwatch functions and I just need my basics covered when it comes to fitness tracking. All things considered, I enjoy wearing this thing a lot. If your priorities are the same as mine, the Versa is worth checking out.
SEE ALSO: Fitbit Versa hands-on: A better smartwatch attempt?
Apple champions menstrual health
With new preliminary findings from The Apple Women’s Study
Menstrual health is a very common and sensitive topic for us women, and yet it remains under-researched.
As someone who underwent ovarian surgery a few months ago, one of the things I learned from that experience is how reproductive health is often overlooked.
Usual symptoms like bloating, stomach cramps, and tiredness can be easily dismissed as “common” during periods. But these should always be monitored.
In fact, one out of ten women has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a health condition which can possibly affect fertility rate, menstrual cycles, changes in physical appearance, mental health, among other factors.
And yet, a huge percentage of women remains undiagnosed.
The Apple Women’s Study
This prevalent problem prompted Apple to create a digital study. It aims to gain a deeper understanding about the menstrual cycle and its relationship with a person’s overall health.
The Apple Women’s Study was launched in 2019 and is accessible via Apple Research App. It was done in collaboration with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).
Anyone living in the US who has ever menstruated can participate in the study. They simply need to download the app in their iPhone and sign up for the research.
With the help of period tracker Cycle Tracking on Apple Watch, or Cycle Tracking in the Health app on iPhone, participants’ menstrual cycle data and survey answers from the study will be analyzed, and help inform the development of innovative products for menstrual cycles, risk assessment, and screening of gynecologic conditions.
New Preliminary Findings
Harvard Chan School researchers used survey data from the Apple Women’s Health Study to advance the scientific understanding around the relationship between persistently abnormal periods, PCOS, and endometrial hyperplasia and cancer.
Looking at a preliminary analysis cohort of over 50,000 study participants, the study team found:
- 12 percent of participants reported a PCOS diagnosis. Participants with PCOS had more than four times the risk of endometrial hyperplasia (precancer of the uterus). And more than 2.5 times the risk of uterine cancer.
- 5.7 percent of participants reported their cycles taking five or more years to reach cycle regularity after their first period. Participants in that group had more than twice the risk of endometrial hyperplasia. More than 3.5 times the risk of uterine cancer, compared to those who reported their cycles took less than one year to reach regularity.
Previous interim updates
The Apple Women’s Health Study team has previously shared a number of other interim research updates that highlight how large-scale, longitudinal research on menstruation can help advance the science around this topic.
- Research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology focuses on cycle deviations, like irregular or prolonged periods, which can be a sign of underlying conditions including PCOS, fibroids, malignancies, or infections. The study found cycle deviations were found in 16.4 percent of the study population. Black participants had a 33 percent higher prevalence of infrequent periods compared to white, non-Hispanic participants. Asian participants had a higher prevalence of irregular periods.
- Demonstrating just how common menstrual symptoms really are, researchers found the most frequently tracked symptoms were abdominal cramps, bloating, and tiredness, all of which were experienced by more than 60 percent of participants who logged symptoms. More than half of the participants who logged symptoms reported acne and headaches. Some less widely recognized symptoms, like diarrhea and sleep changes, were also tracked by 37 percent of participants logging symptoms.
After analyzing over 125,000 menstrual cycles, researchers found that participants experienced slightly longer menstrual cycles for cycles in which they received a COVID-19 vaccine. But participants’ cycles typically returned to prevaccination lengths the cycle after getting a vaccine.
How about data privacy?
According to Apple, participants can control the data types shared with the study. There’s transparency into how the data will be used for the purposes of the study.
What’s in it for users?
With iOS 16 and watchOS 9, the Cycle Tracking app can inform users if their logged cycle history from the previous six months shows a pattern of irregular periods, infrequent periods, prolonged periods, or persistent spotting.
Users are also able to learn about the Cycle Deviation detected. They can then export the last 12 months of their cycle history as a PDF to share with their provider.
By participating in Apple Women’s Health Study, women can actively monitor their cycle and common symptoms.
In this way, participants contribute to a great cause which can create more reproductive health awareness and help other women understand their period cycles better.
Apple Research App and Cycle Tracking is available on App Store.
7 tech gifts women actually want
Great relationship investments that will keep on giving!
With Valentine’s day right around the corner, we’re rounding up the perfect gifts for the woman in your life. Not only would they win you enough brownie points with your significant other, but they’ll also –surely– make life much more convenient for them. After all, isn’t that one of the best things about technology?
For the bookworm
A Kindle is always a great idea – especially one that’s already pre-loaded with some books your significant other may like.
While having physical copies of books still reigns supreme, much can also be said about the convenience of having access to your library wherever you are. During travels – yes, we’re back to doing this now – it’s also much lighter to carry a Kindle, freeing up space and weight allowance in your carry-on.
The Kindle Paperwhite, as the name suggests, almost looks like paper. The screen lights up to allow for reading in places with dim light. This, without being too harsh on the eyes.
For the one who enjoys individuality and self-expression
Phone cases have moved on from being utilitarian tools that keep our phones safe from breakage – they’re one of the best ways to showcase one’s individuality. And for you to say ‘I love you’ while providing something useful for her everyday life. Casetify has just released its Valentine’s Day gift collection.
From February 8th until the 15th, they are offering a Buy 2, Get 25% off deal when you use code ‘Vday23’ to purchase any phone cases or accessories at their website. A great way to keep phones and hearts from breaking with a discount.
For ensuring constant and fail-safe communication
Is your significant other in the market for a new phone? Well, you’re in luck as this is practically a no-brainer. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra just hit the market and it’s an absolute beaut. Long battery life assures that you can stay connected and all of its five cameras will ensure that your couple photos are always looking crisp and bright.
It also comes with a stylus so that you can send each other handwritten love notes. Who says love had to die with technology?
For someone who loves fabulous hair
Always the popular and well-received gift for any occasion is the new Dyson Airwrap. It’s the gift of well-styled hair without the damage. It’s also one of the most enjoyable pieces of tech to use, making your loved one feel like a pro in the comfort of her own home.
The new, special-edition Airwrap comes in Topaz Orange, stepping away from the traditional red typically used to represent Valentine’s day and even the recently concluded Lunar New Year celebrations. It’s bright, it’s fiery (like your love *wink*), and as an added bonus, this colorway also brings you luck. Topaz Orange was inspired by the phonetic resemblance between ‘mandarin- 桔’ and ‘luck- 吉’ in Chinese. This is part of the reason why people eat a lot of mandarins during this season. The metallic finish is unique, giving an interplay of light on the surface of the machine. It also has gold accents and comes in a sleek, Byzantine Purple case.
For the one who loves to capture memories
We all love the convenience of digital photos and what can make it even better than having a physical copy of it instantly? Instax Square SQ20 also makes sure that you don’t waste any of the film as you can preview the shot on its monitor, and re-shoot if necessary. You can even do simple edits before you print.
You can also get more creative with a zoom function, shooting in double exposure mode, and making collages on the go. The camera comes in an elegant beige hue that will surely make for a special place on her shelf when not in use.
For the one who loves her skincare
Face yoga and gua sha routines have been all the rage online these days. If she’s been following these trends, might as well get her a tech device that takes it to another level.
The Foreo Bear is a dream Microcurrent Facial Toning Device that lets her do a toning routine in the comfort of her own home. It takes 3 minutes a day just to help her maintain healthy skin from the inside and out.
For the one who enjoys her music
Wireless, noise-cancelling headphones that fit your lady’s classy vibe? We got you. Sony’s WH-1000XM4 Silent White is an oldie but definitely a goodie. It has a luxurious, pearlescent finish with gold details that’s also matched by its case.
It can connect to two devices simultaneously and has superb sound quality.
Mercury in retrograde: When technology and communications go haywire
Your survival guide to a crazy season
Buckle up, everyone! Mercury is in retrograde once again. In Astrology, this means the planet that governs technology, communications, and our very own thought processes spins backward. In our reality, it means doomsday is coming. (Kidding!)
When Mercury is in retrograde, flights and travels are usually delayed, people from the past pop back into our lives, communication systems break down, and our gadgets get into accidents or start malfunctioning.
More importantly, this season makes everything fluid. Nothing will be set in stone. Decisions are usually changed when the season ends, so it’s not a good time to sign contracts, schedule surgeries, have makeovers, launch a new project, or shop for electronic devices.
But fret not, this season shall pass. Here’s what you should do before, during, and after the Mercury retrograde.
Protect your gadgets and gizmos with trusty cases and accessories
Honey, this season makes us feel frustrated, agitated, and annoyed. Often, we’ll be rushing and getting into accidents. You might drop your phone on the toilet, break them, or forget them in a cab or restaurant. You gotta get yourself some straps to keep your phone with you at all times and dress them up with hard, shock-proof cases. Should they fall from your hands, you know they’re safe.
Back up your data, make sure it’s safe and secure
Okay, Jenny, listen up. Mercury in retrograde is the season where we lose important stuff moments before we actually need them. It can be your keys, card, or presentation for your next meeting. The point here is you should back up all necessary data. Flash drives might break, Google Drive and other forms of storage may not work properly at the time you need them. The next thing you know, your life is in shambles.
Another thing to worry about is security and privacy. This season is also the time when people’s secrets tend to get exposed, such as your affair with your best friend’s boyfriend or your intimate videos getting leaked into the deepest, darkest corner of the internet. Keep your reputation from being smeared!
Double-check what you type and say
Be careful with miscommunication, my dear. It’s normal to feel there’s chaos in your head since Mercury in retrograde disrupts our thought processes. We become forgetful and more prone to mistakes, so double check your typos before hitting send. In addition, think twice before voicing out your opinions and emotions. Take a deep breath, and think before you click. Your words are powerful. Once you’ve hurt someone with it, you can be forgiven but they’ll never forget.
P.S. Be mindful of what you post or tweet if you don’t want to get dragged on social media.
Keep your emotions in check and block your exes
If you haven’t blocked your exes until today, you need to re-evaluate your life, Susan. During this season, we barely use our logic and just follow our emotions. There might come a time when you want to send a seven-paragraph message to your ex, please don’t. You owe it to yourself to move on from the past and stop them from coming back into your life.
Oh, one more thing: Stay open to possible opportunities. Sure, Mercury in retrograde brings our past lovers back from hell, but they also bring in colleagues we’ve worked with. Most of the time, they want to work with us again. Additionally, this is a good time to reconnect with old friends. Seriously, this period isn’t that bad.
Be extremely flexible (not just in yoga but also in life)
If there’s one thing you can learn from this, it’s that life doesn’t always work out in our favor. It’s a reminder always to find a way. Be flexible and adaptable to every surprise that life brings. If we’re going to give in to our emotions, we already lost. Take a step back and reassess what’s happening, compose yourself and think of a solution. This is just another storm that’s passing by. You will overcome this.
Take a moment to slow down
Lastly, like any retrograde season, it’s a cue from the planets and the stars to slow down. We’re all rushing from one point to another, and we’re moving extremely fast. Planets spin backward to remind us that we need to look back and slow down to appreciate how far we’ve come, and what we’ve been doing with our lives, and catch up on what we missed. Above all, it’s a reminder to rest. You’re doing well, my friend. I’m proud of you.
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