Second in a series of how Phil is trying to not die of high blood pressure after years and years of running Android Central. (And doing other unhealthy things.)

OK, OK. Health tech isn’t maybe quite as sexy as the news SmartWatchWear 5000. But I’d argue that maybe it’s just a little more important in the long run, right? Thus my first look at the Withings wireless blood pressure cuff. Syncs to your phone. Syncs to the cloud. Keeps Phil alive. Good times.

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But that’s not the only thing like that out there. Just a month ago at CES Omron announced a new kind of cuff that’s smart — it syncs with an app on your phone, yeah — but also standalone. You can use it along with your phone, but you don’t have to. (And as I’m getting older the real definition of a “smart” product is one that recognizes that there are times I don’t want to have to deal with any more tech than is absolutely necessary. But get off my lawn.)

The best thing about the Evolv? Well, it’s a couple things, really. It’s fast. It also does things a little backward, taking the diastolic reading first, and then the systolic, meaning that it’s quicker. And then there’s the display, which shows the measurements right there on your arm, no smartphone required. And that’s maybe a good thing, as the Omron app isn’t all that impressive.

But all in all, this is a good little product and a competitive price. Nicely done.

See at Amazon




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The best wallpaper app has gotten better, again.

Muzei, the wallpaper app that’ll give you a new wall as frequently or infrequently as you like, from tons of different sources and with a cornucopia of options, has released Muzei 2.3, the largest update in a while, and it brings new features to your phone and your wrist with its Android Wear 2.0 features. There’s a whole lot in here to enjoy, so let’s get to it:

  • Permissions and My Photos: Muzei only had one ‘dangerous’ permission it required, the storage permissions for My Photos, and now it is completely optional. My Photos itself has also gotten a huge overhaul both over and under the hood.
  • Direct Boot: Many live wallpaper apps won’t run until a device is unlocked after a reboot, but Muzei isn’t one of them thanks to Direct Boot, which will let you see your custom wallpaper immediately after a reboot.
  • Quick Settings and App Shortcuts: In Nougat developers have the ability to create tiles for users to add to their Quick Settings, and Muzei has chosen to implement a Quick Settings tile to help you quickly get to a new image. Additional, Muzei now has Android 7.1 App Shortcuts to quickly get you info about your current wallpaper.
  • Individual photo changes: No longer do you have to import every photo you add to My Photos and keep two copies on your phone. Thanks to the Storage Access Framework and ACTION_OPEN_DOCUMENT, Muzei gets persistent access to photos, be they local or cloud-based. This is contingent on the source app supporting ACTION_OPEN_DOCUMENT, which many apps including Google Photos do not. These photos will still have to be imported.
  • Folder support: You can now add entire folders to Musei rather than just individual folders, complete with automatic updates to pull in new photos added to a folder. This relies on another Storage Access Freamwoork action, one that is less prevalently used than ACTION_OPEN_DOCUMENT.
  • Find older artwork more easily: Muzei’s Document Provider now allows you to browse past artwork by date or source so that you can find your favorite Muzei walls.
  • Android Wear 2.0: Muzei is taking advantage of complications and offering Muzei background images and artwork info to other Wear 2.0 faces, meaning your Muzei wallpaper can come to any compatible 2.0 watch face.
  • Reliability improvements: Muzei updated the minimum API level in Muzei 2.3 so that it could switch from a Support Library to a framework version of ScriptIntrinsicBlur, letting devices that consistently crashed before to now enjoy Muzei stably. Reliability loading new wallpapers, especially on poor data connections, is still in the works, but the MuzeiArtSource API is being rebuilt for compatibility with Doze, AppStandby, and other background optimizations.

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What LG Watch Sport Model should you buy? That depends…

The LG Watch Sport is a big watch for thick wrists, or at least people who are willing to carry 89.4 grams and 14mm of stainless steel goodness.

And while the rounded aesthetic may be the most universally appealing shape for watches these days — practically every Android Wear watch released in the past 18 months has been round — color also matters, and that’s where things can get a bit tricky.

Unlike the LG Watch Style, which is, well, stylish in three colors, including rose gold, the Watch Sport is a bit more sedate in its palette options, offering just two: Titanium (black) and Dark Blue. In reality, as different as those depictions sound, the two colors are very similar — almost to a fault. Let’s explore them, and which one you may want to buy.

Note: The Dark Blue version is currently a Google Play exclusive in the U.S., and like the lighter blue Pixel at its launch, it may be a little hard to come by for a while.

Titanium (black)

This is the standard model, the one that you will likely see sold in stores and on wrists, and the one that Google, LG and its carrier partners will push — hard. That’s OK, because it’s extremely attractive, with a lovely brushed stainless steel chassis and dark grey band to match. The dual tone is lovely, complementing one another, and that’s a great thing, because the bands are not user-replaceable.

Dark Blue

As noted above, this is currently a Google Store exclusive in the U.S. so it may be hard to come by for a while — and it may never come to other regions. That’s OK, too, because it looks very similar to the Titanium model, and may even be confused for the more ubiquitous version in some lighting conditions. The brushed stainless steel has a blue tinge, and the rubberized band is slightly darker than its Titanium counterpart, but otherwise the two models have considerable similarities.

Which should you get?

The quick answer is that you should probably get the Titanium model. It’s going to be much easier to find, and combines the simple elegance of a dark silver bezel with a dark grey watch band, making it appropriate for almost any situation.

If you’re more adventurous, or covet the things that few people are allowed to have, the Dark Blue model is going to be up your alley. The way its subtle cobalt hue glimmers in the right light helps it stand out from its more familiar counterpart, but at the end of the day there is very little between it and the Titanium Watch Sport.

Where to buy the LG Watch Sport




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