In my quest for washboard abs, I came across Nike+ Training Club (NTC). The exercise app, a sister to the popular Nike+ Run Club, is a free downloadable app from the popular fitness brand — presumably to lure us into buying more of their workout clothes.
Basically, this program walks you through whatever exercise you’re supposed to be doing, all with visuals, audio narration, and even encouragement! But, what’s so great about NTC is its exercise variety coupled with an interface that allows you to find one that works for your needs. Nike’s athletic apparel is no joke and apparently, their workout apps aren’t, either.
You can create workout plans
There are four options to choose from: Start up, to get you on the right road to start your fitness journey; lean fit, to push endurance; bodyweight only, for exercising without weights; and gym strong, a lifting program.
Choosing one entails a quick setup. The app asks about your normal exercise routines, activity levels, and details about your body. There’s an option to include running to your workout and it lets you pick what your start date would be.
An exercise plan is then built for you based on info you input, complete with a workout schedule and what program you’re supposed to do on each specific date. This highly customizable option leaves you with only one more thing to do: the actual exercising.
Or specifically curate your exercises
If you’re a little picky with your workouts, or if you’re a strong, independent woman who can make her own workout plans, you can just choose specific workouts for each time you do a session.
NTC offers handpicked exercises in their “Picks for you” section but you can also browse each workout by focus, whether they be for strength, endurance, or mobility; or type, whose choices include yoga, athlete, no-equipment, short workouts, and classics.
There are also different intensity levels!
Because NTC recognizes the wide range of people who use their app, each option is categorized into one of three groups: beginner, intermediate, or advanced. This makes it easy for you to gauge if your exercise choice is actually doable for your fitness level — and mind you, the intermediate to advanced levels are no walks in the park. You will get challenged; something I look for in fitness activities to prevent me from getting bored with my workouts.
Each workout preview allows for the user to see the duration and intensity for each one. A quick overview will also show you which parts of your body they’re good for and what equipment you’d need. NTC also gives a quick rundown of each specific exercise for a selected workout, presumably to let you know what you’re in for (which also means no backing out).
Unlike those genetically blessed to be over 25 without a slowing down metabolism, I — like the rest of us fitness pariahs — need to take extra effort to make sure I get exercise in. Although I have gotten significantly better with my fitness routine, I still struggle to find the best and most convenient way for me to exercise despite a hectic and random work schedule.
I’ve always said that consistency is the key part in getting fit but from personal experience, it’s very hard to keep an exercise routine when scheduling, traveling, and general life scenarios keep getting away. NTC is a quick solution to all these issues: It allows me to work out anywhere and anytime I’d want with just my smartphone in hand.
For a free app, I honestly did not expect this many options. I was pleasantly surprised by the exercise variety offered and how easy it is to actually find something that would work for whatever circumstances or limitations I had at the moment.
Although I still do not have those washboard abs I dream of, I now exercise more than I used to and althleisurewear, unsurprisingly, is now something I live for.
[irp posts=”13958″ name=”Fitbit Alta HR review”]
Google’s Emoji Kitchen will mash-up your favorite emojis
Rolling out on Gboard
Do you know that Merriam-Webster adds new words to the dictionary every year? Do you also know that the Unicode Consortium adds new emojis to everyone’s devices every year? Such is the way of language. New ways to communicate will always emerge out of nowhere. Usually, they form whenever two things combine into an all-new form. It’s easy enough to combine words together, but how do you do that with emojis?
Google is developing a way to fuse emojis into new ones. In an official blog post, the Android developer announced the new feature called Emoji Kitchen. A feature of Gboard, Emoji Kitchen unlocks a plethora of new emojis. How about a cowboy ghost? Or a crying robot? Or a kissing poop face?
Prior to the Emoji Kitchen, users already received access to emoji variants in the past. Today, you can select different skin tones for human emojis. With the Emoji Kitchen, you can mix existing ones with each other. Likewise, users can access the feature automatically by opening compatible emojis. Opening the cowboy emoji sub-menu, for example, will open up its different variants.
Naturally, Emoji Kitchen will combine only existing emojis. In other words, you can’t create an all-new emoji from nothing. All new emojis come from Google’s own designers. Still, the feature’s new combinations will come in handy. Especially when I feel like a… monkey cactus?
Emoji Kitchen is slowly rolling out to Gboard users starting today. If you don’t want to wait for an official version, you can sign up for the Gboard Beta program for instant access.
Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo joins Huawei’s effort to build a Play Store alternative
Preparing for a Google-less future
Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo recently collaborated with Huawei to build the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA). GDSA aims to create a single app store aimed at simplifying app uploads and downloads for developers and consumers.
At first glance, GDSA seems like a competitor for Google’s Play Store. Over the years, the rising hostility of the US towards Chinese tech companies led to tariffs and outright ban from using its technologies. For example, Huawei suffered an entity ban last 2018 due to suspicions of spying for the Chinese government.
Such precedence may have stoked fear among other Chinese companies that a ban could be leveraged by the US in the future. Dependence on Western technologies is crucial for these companies. As such, a ban would represent a great loss, considering that most of these companies have established markets in many countries.
To counter this scenario, these tech companies are slowly building their own alternatives to established apps and services. Huawei, for its part, had already pushed out AppGallery as an alternative to Google’s Play Store. Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo have their own app stores in China due to a continuing ban on Google’s services in the country.
A unified app store
A unified app store will greatly simplify the process for developers who have to deal with these multiple app stores. GDSA will unify the backend of these app stores so developers can publish once and have their apps appear on the brands’ respective app stores.
For now, details about GDSA are scarce. Pilot countries for its deployment include 9 key regions including India, Russia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. A prototype website has been set up, but developers cannot sign up for it yet.
But if GDSA really pushes through, Google will face some serious competition on Android app distribution. Furthermore, the issue of fragmentation will only deepen in the ecosystem as companies build their own version of Google apps.
Xiaomi already responded with a statement stating that they have no plans to position GDSA as a Play Store competitor. The company reiterated GDSA’s function to simplify the app uploading process. Furthermore, there was no mention of Huawei in their statement.
Huawei and Google have yet to release a statement. However, it is clear that Google will not welcome this development. Considering that Google has an iron grip on app store distribution outside China, a viable competitor will only compel the American company to further control the Android ecosystem.
With a tightening grip on Android, other tech companies will only intensify their efforts to build an alternative OS. Huawei, as an example, launched HarmonyOS for its devices in the future.
An alternative app store will also open up another potential avenue for hackers targeting users with malware. This will only contribute to security and privacy problems in Android, which has long been dealing with notorious malware and data breaches.
Grab Philippines ordered to suspend in-car recording and selfie verification
Due to violations in the Data Privacy Act of 2012
Last year, Grab Philippines tested new features to ensure passenger and driver safety. These new features are in-car audio and video recording, as well as selfie verification.
However, the country’s National Privacy Commission (NPC) ordered Grab to halt the rollout of these features. The commission stated that those features pose a privacy risk to passengers. A cease and desist order released by NPC cites violations within the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which governs the privacy and security of all digital data on the country.
NPC also stated in its Notice of Deficiencies that the ride-sharing company failed to assess the new features’ risk to passengers, taking only into account “the risk faced by the company”.
The notice also noted that there is no clear mechanism for informing passengers when recorded data gets sent to authorities. It also found out that there is ambiguity in opting out of recording.
As such, NPC gave Grab 15 days to address the deficiencies it found for both in-car recording and selfie verification. This is surely a welcome move for ensuring passengers’ privacy. However, the question remains on what measures Grab will implement in the future to protect its passengers’ safety.
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