Live Activities were introduced to the public with iOS 16.1 and work on every iPhone that can support the new software update. There have been so many changes to the iOS software that not everyone can keep up with all the changes. The marquee updates, like the new customizable lock screen and home screen, were obvious due to how much publicity they got, but Live Activities didn’t enjoy as much attention. So, if you haven’t been able to catch up on every single iOS 16 and iOS 16.1 update, we’re here to deliver you a hand. Below we’ll discuss what Live Activities are, how to turn them on, and what the best Live Activities are.
Live Activities are ways for you to get live, real-time information straight to your phone in an easy manner. They are intended to be used as a lock screen notification instead of something resembling the Dynamic Island, which is only available on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. Live Activities is still a feature that Apple is working on, as it seems as if the company has pushed back certain functions, like live sports scores. That was one Live Activity that many were looking forward to, but it seems as if we’ll have to wait until iOS 16.2. However, there are other Live Activities available right now, which we’ll get into below.
Turning on Live Activities is simple. Follow the steps below:
To enable Live Activities for a particular app, first, you’ll need to make sure that the app has a Live Activity integration. If it does, then you can scroll down to the app in Settings and turn on the Live Activities toggle.
Here are a few Live Activities you could start using today or soon in iOS 16.2
Although we’re putting this up here, it’s preemptive. Unfortunately, having sports scores as a Live Activity has been pushed back to iOS 16.2 at least. This is a shame, as it would be great to see soccer, basketball, baseball, and American football scores without having to open up the respective league’s app or search it on Google. Once the feature does come around, though, you’ll have to download the MLB, NBA, NFL, or other sporting league’s app so that you can toggle the Live Activities feature on.
One of the most underrated things that technology brought us is flight tracking. It’s so refreshing to be able to track someone’s flight to know if your loved ones are arriving on time and safely. It saves a lot of unnecessary waiting time at the airport in case their aircraft experiences delays. Flighty is an advanced flight tracker that has Live Activities enabled. The app offers a lot more in-depth information regarding the flight, of course, but the Live Activities version of it on your lock screen offers estimated time until arrival, gate change notifications, or delay warnings. The only caveat to this application is that you’ll need to pay to access the Live Activity version of it.
Apple has put a lot of focus into health and fitness, with the Health app, Apple Watch updates, and making the steps counter more accurate. So it’s no surprise that Apple has put a lot of effort into making sure that you can track your fitness through Live Activities. Applications like SmartGym or Fat Burn Tracker integrate with the Health app to track your workouts, calories lost, steps walked, and much more. Keep in mind that having an Apple Watch helps with any fitness tracking much more effectively, as it’s pretty much impossible to track certain metrics that Apple uses with an iPhone. As Live Activities becomes more polished, we’re sure to see an influx of health and fitness-related apps.
There are a few budgeting and personal finance apps out there, but since Live Activities is still a relatively new feature, not many of them have created a service for it. MoneyCoach is a budgeting application that isn’t that popular compared to other huge names out there, but it offers a simple, clean, and easy Live Activity tab that you can use to track your daily spending. You can see how much you’ve spent today compared to the previous day (or whatever period of time you want to compare) and your most recent transactions. More budgeting apps may come out that can do what MoneyCoach does better, but since the feature is extremely new, we’ll have to wait a bit.
Apart from the categories above, there are a lot of things you can track with Live Activities. Bookly offers individuals a timer to track how long they’re reading, what book they’re reading, and gives users a “to be read” list that they can check off. Coffee Book, on the other hand, is a coffee tracker. It can show you how much you’ve drunk and gives you a brew diary. It’s quite niche but could be useful for those who really love coffee. Lastly, Pestle allows you to go through recipes step by step as you’re cooking them. Each application has a specific use, but they’re all extremely useful if you need a hands-off experience with whatever you’re doing.
Live Activities is still extremely new, so we don’t know the full potential of the feature just yet. However, we know that it completely expands what the iOS lock screen can do and gives us many more personalized options. With more settings, options, and features, we can truly make our iOS devices our own. If you haven’t tried Live Activities yet, you can download iOS 16.1 and try it right now!
iOS 16.2 should be the final big update to the iPhone's operating system this year, and it's now expected in the coming week. iOS 16.1 brought some big changes to the iPhone when Apple released that software update. But a new iOS 16 update is already in the works that will bring a new app to the iPhone along with other enhancements.
The arrival of a new Freeform app leads the changes in iOS 16.2, which also includes some other under-the-hood enhancements to other apps and features. Since then we have also got an iOS 16.2 beta 2, which added a Medications widget for the Lock Screen, Apple News integration for the Weather app and a new Dynamic Island update only for iPhone 14 Pro users. Plus, 16.2 should bring the arrival of Apple Music Sing, Apple Music's fun new karaoke mode.
Here's what we know so far about iOS 16.2 in terms of new features for your iPhone.
Apple Music Sing is a new built-in karaoke mode for Apple Music users and is currently slated to arrive later this month. It will likely come with the iOS 16.2 update. While you won't get this karaoke mode for every song in Apple's 100 million-plus song library, it promises to be a lot of fun on eligible tracks.
Advanced Data Protection has already started rolling out through the Apple Beta Software Program, but it's now expected to come with iOS 16.2 or early next year. This security feature brings end-to-end encryption to Apple's iCloud storage service, which is a massive win for iPhone users. While it won't encrypt Mail, Contacts or Calendar data, this is an extra level of data security for a lot of your most sensitive information.
iOS 16 added the Always-on display to the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, bringing it in line with its Android competitors. This allowed users to view the time, sports scores, Calendar notifications and more, all without needing to unlock their phones. Now, iOS 16.2 is expected to let you disable the wallpaper and/or notifications on the Always-on display. While this may not be a big feature for everyone, it can clear clutter from the Always-on display, giving you just what you need and nothing more.
AirDrop allows you to share files from your iPhone to another — no cable needed. Now Apple is changing things up by limiting the ability to receive an AirDrop from "Everyone" to only work for 10 minutes.
This feature change is not without controversy. Apple initially made the change only in China, allegedly at the request of the Chinese government to limit the communication abilities of protestors. Now it looks like the entire world can only leave themselves open to receiving an AirDrop for 10 minutes at a time unless they want to keep it between contacts.
Maybe you forgot about Freeform, an app that Apple first previewed during its Worldwide Developer Conference in June. Apple touts Freeform as a brainstorming and collaboration tool, with the app serving as a kind of mobile whiteboard that people can work on together in real-time.
Freeform seems to be primarily geared toward the iPad, taking advantage of that device's larger screen space. Indeed, Freeform also debuts on the iPadOS 16.2 Beta 1 release, which arrived at the same time as the iOS 16.2 update. However, Freeform is designed to work on multiple Apple devices, which is why it's also included in both iOS 16.2 and the new macOS Ventura beta.
Apple's release notes for iOS 16.2 Beta 1 warn of some known issues with Freeform that require workarounds for deleting boards while offline and adding or removing collaborators when changing share settings. It's a reminder that this is very much a beta release, with a lot of fine-tuning in the works between now and when iOS 16.2 gets a general release.
Our Alex Wawro went hands-on with Freeform, and he thinks it's a whiteboard app he'll actually use.
If you open the iOS Weather app, and the current conditions are related to an ongoing news story, then an Apple News widget will pop up to allow you to read more about what's going on in the News app.
This feature currently seems limited to certain U.S. locations, but hopefully once this feature leaves beta it'll work anywhere.
iOS 16.2 has a new Dynamic Island upgrade that will now keep the Wi-Fi icon and signal bars in view while playing music on the iPhone 14 Pro. Earlier, if a user was listening to music on the iPhone 14 Pro, Dynamic Island would show the Now Playing track along with the battery icon and either the signal icon or the Wi-Fi. With this update, the island will shrink down in width and all three icons will now be visible when music is played. It will also have a sleek animation that will set it in place.
iPhones with 120Hz displays — that's the assorted iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro models — get a performance boost. Apple's release notes say that animated layout changes now happen at 120Hz on ProMotion displays.
Home has received a lot of attention in iOS 16, first with an all-new design that makes it easier to view and control smart home accessories. The iOS 16.1 update brought support for Matter, an interoperability protocol backed by Google, Amazon and Apple that should help different devices work together.
The changes keep coming in iOS 16.2, which is going to usher in a new architecture for the Home app. Apple says the change will bring faster, more reliable performance, though we'll have to see it in action before we can see what that means for everyday use.
Live Activities also just appeared in iOS 16.1, but there will be some enhancements to the feature in iOS 16.2. As a reminder, Live Activities are alerts that appear on the lock screen (or around the Dynamic Island if you've got an iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max) that deliver you ongoing updates for things like sports scores, delivery statuses and timers.
9to5Mac reports that it's seen code that will allow Live Activities to request updates at shorter intervals, which would boost the frequency of updates to the alerts. Apparently, that feature isn't yet live in iOS 16.2 Beta 1, though.
Another report, this one from MacRumors, claims that Live Activities integration with select sporting events in the TV app has returned in the iOS 16.2 beta; it had briefly been a part of the iOS 16.1 beta.
According to MacRumors, you'll be able to tap a Follow button on supported games in the TV app to have score updates displayed on the lock screen or in the Dynamic Island. Supported events include MLB and NBA games as well as Premiere League matches in the U.S.
If you accidentally trigger your iPhone's Emergency SOS call feature, iOS 16.2 Beta 1 apparently adds a way to report an unintentional call. An iOS 16.2 user took to Twitter to say that such a feature appeared when they inadvertently launched an Emergency SOS call on their iPhone.
iOS 16.2 beta 1 added a Sleep Lock Screen widget to iOS, which allows users to view their sleep-tracking data from the Lock Screen. A Sleep Home Screen widget has existed since iOS 15 but with the Lock Screen becoming more integral to iOS, the Sleep widget is getting ported over.
iOS 16.2 beta 2 brings a health widget of its own into the mix. Medications was a widget that had been hinted at previously but was unavailable before this latest beta. Now, iOS 16.2 beta 2 users can track their medication from the Lock Screen. If you take a fair amount of medications, this can be a highly useful feature given the complexities of many medication schedules.
In its ongoing efforts to ensure anyone can use an iPhone, Apple's working on a new Custom Accessibility mode that can drastically simplify the iOS layout.
Enabling this mode replaces the default "Springboard" iOS home screen layout with a simpler one made up of a large grid of icons. Unlocking the phone can also be set to require a touch-and-hold input, and no matter where you are in the phone, an obvious Back button is available at the bottom of the screen at all times.
There are also options to enlarge on-screen text, disable volume buttons, and to make changes to individual apps and the iOS Emergency SOS service.
Aside from these larger feature updates, there are also potentially some minor changes coming to iOS 16.2. According to MacRumors the new version of the mobile operating system will allow you to keyword search for photos in Messages based on the content (i.e. dog, cat, etc.). It will also bring SharePlay support to GameCenter so you can play games with people while you're on a FaceTime call with them.
According to Apple's iOS release notes, it has fixed a couple of issues with this latest beta. There was an issue typing in Chinese Pinyin that has been resolved, as well as an issue with the TV app not properly working. Finally, SwiftUI, which is an app-building tool from Apple, had some issues with animations that have been resolved in iOS 16.2 beta 2.
Version 3 of Broadcasts, Steve Troughton-Smith’s Internet radio app and a Club MacStories Recommends pick, is out with an updated design, improved search, Shazam integration, and a URL scheme that makes sharing stations simple. Together, the changes look fantastic and make enjoying Internet radio with the app easier and better than ever.
The app’s main view now features a tab bar on the iPhone and a sidebar on the iPad and Mac. The result is a more modern feel that’s further enhanced by a bunch of new ways to add station artwork. Far too few Internet radio stations have good artwork by default, so it’s great to now have so many ways to add your own. Broadcasts offers:
The Now Playing screen has been updated, too, with bigger, bolder artwork with a blurred background effect that pulls in the colors of the station’s artwork. From the Now Playing screen, you can play and pause playback, adjust volume, set a sleep timer, AirPlay to another device, review the playback history of the station to which you’re listening, access those songs or the currently playing song in Apple Music, and activate Broadcasts’ Shazam feature, which I cover below.
With thousands of stations available worldwide, another excellent refinement to Broadcasts is how search works. You can browse stations manually by country, search for a country, or search stations within a country. For instance, if you pick Ireland and then search for ‘Alternative,’ you immediately narrow the number of results from 130 to seven, making it much easier to find a genre you like than if you were to scroll through a long list of stations.
More metadata is supported by Broadcasts now, too, including the name of the song playing and its artwork if it’s available. Like station artwork, though, few Internet radio stations I’ve tried support song art. Broadcasts has a solution to this as well, which is a new beta feature that incorporates Shazam functionality into the iPhone and iPad versions of the app. In my testing, the feature works well, pulling cover art and song information into the Now Playing UI, which makes the experience much more like listening to Apple Music, Spotify, or another music streaming service than before. The experimental feature can even be used if you’re using another source to play your music, serving as a Now Playing UI for any music playing around you.
Broadcasts has a new setting that will resume playback automatically the next time you open the app, immediately streaming the last station to which you were listening. The setting is off by default but can be switched to work every time you launch Broadcasts or just when you connect the app with CarPlay.
Another handy feature is the addition of a URL scheme in the format
broadcasts://add?name=Name&address=Address&artworkAddress=ArtworkAddress. Add parameters for the name of a station, its URL, and a URL for station artwork, and anyone with Broadcasts will be able to quickly add the station to their library. It’s a nice way to send your favorite station to a friend, set up automations in Shortcuts, or link your favorite stations on the web. For example, here’s a link I created for WXYC, the University of North Carolina’s station.
I don’t listen to Internet radio often, but I love it for live broadcasts of podcasts and when I don’t have the energy to pick out some music myself. With Broadcasts’ new search functionality, I’ve expanded my collection of stations with little effort and really enjoyed quickly restarting stations when connecting to CarPlay, which has already led me to use the app more. Broadcasts was already an app we recommended to Club MacStories members last year, and it has only gotten better with this release.
Broadcasts is available on the App Store as a Universal Purchase that syncs among the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. The app is free to download and try with a fixed set of stations. A one-time, In-App Purchase of $4.99 unlocks the ability to add your own stations to the app’s library.
From the outside it can appear that all of the music streaming services are the same -- they each cost $10 a month, and every one has "millions of tracks." But if you're willing to scratch at the surface, just a little, there's a lot more to them, and this applies especially to the two strongest services: Spotify and Apple Music.
Apple Music's large catalog offers tight integration with Apple products, as you'd expect, but it also includes some extras including lossless tunes. On the other hand, Spotify offers a similarly large catalog of music, but supplements it with a host of features, including podcasts and excellent streaming capabilities via Spotify Connect.
While other streaming services are only now starting to follow suit, social features have been a core part of Spotify for many years. From the ever-popular Spotify Wrapped annual roundup, to the ability to add friends and see their current "Now Playing" track, no other service has yet come close to the same level of social integration.
While you can't go wrong with either Apple Music or Spotify, the latter is the one I'd choose, especially if you're an Android user or have a voice assistant at home. Spotify is the biggest streaming service for a reason, and if you like sharing your music tastes with friends or having a vast smorgasbord of music to choose from it's the one to get.
Spotify is a music streaming service with a catalog of 80 million-plus songs and a selection of apps available for desktop, mobile and smart devices. Streaming quality is capped at 320kbps, which is higher than Amazon Music and Pandora, while the company has also teased a lossless tier for many years.
When it comes to accounts there are two main ways to listen, Free and Premium. The Free plan costs nothing, using advertisements that play between songs to cover costs. The trade-off for the Free service is that there are fewer features, plus restrictions on the music you can play and where you can play it. With a Free subscription, you can only shuffle songs from an album, playlists or radio station when using the mobile apps. You aren't able to pick a song and play it on the spot. Though there's also no offline listening there is the ability to stream to other speakers over Wi-Fi using Spotify Connect.
Premium is Spotify's flagship product, full of all of the eye-catching features that make it great. It costs $10 (£10, AU$12) per month and is available in over 150 countries worldwide. With Premium, you can play any song, album, playlist or radio station on-demand. You can build your own playlists and add music to your library -- a personal collection you can come back to over and over. There are no ads to be found, giving you an uninterrupted flow of music at all times. You can download music to your computer, tablet or phone to play it offline. Finally, you get better audio quality than with most Apple Music tracks at up to 320Kbps.
As part of Premium, Spotify offers a family plan, which costs $16 per month with up to six accounts. Each person gets their own account, so your hip-hop playlists don't get mixed in with your kid's Imagine Dragons albums. Meanwhile, Apple Music's family plan also includes six separate accounts for $17.
When it comes to the desktop and mobile apps there are three main navigation sections: Home, Search and Your Library. For the mobile app these options live at the bottom of the screen while on the desktop these sections are available on the top left corner. The desktop's extra real estate over mobile also enables an expanded playlists section (including ones you've created) on the bottom left, and the Friends list on the right-hand side. The latter list enables users to see what their friends are playing in real time. Be aware that Friends isn't available on mobile, though Spotify is reportedly working on a similar feature called Community.
While it's different for every platform, the Home page mainly consists of playlists, from suggested playlists for the time of day, to genre-based entries to "Made for you" lists which collate your music into discrete Daily mixes. By default, after playing a song Spotify will plays an endless stream of music based on what you choose. If you like a song you can either long press it, click the hamburger button (...) or right-click on desktop and get more information or add it to your library with the Like button. These songs are automatically added to the "Liked" list, which you can then search through and separate according to genre.
In the middle of the three options is search, which opens Spotify's tool for finding any song, album, artist, podcast and playlist. The final tab in the menu is home to your music collection in Spotify, called Your Library. I've built hundreds of playlists over my years of using Spotify and rely on them a lot, especially while traveling. Other parts of Your Library include tabs for the music you've saved organized by artist, song and album.
Spotify's biggest advantages are its compatibility and adaptability -- no matter what type of connected device you try to use it will usually work, and it plays nice with every voice assistant too. Spotify Connect continues to show the way you can make multiple devices work together. On the bottom of the interface you will see a speaker icon, and pressing this will enable you to connect to Spotify Connect-compatible speakers, soundbars and AV receivers in your home.
If you do use a voice assistant in your home, you have a number of services available to you, but the one I've used that works the best across both Alexa and Google Assistant is Spotify. I have used a number of music services -- including Apple Music -- but none come as close to Spotify in getting the song you ask for most of the time. It comes back to the breadth of Spotify's catalog. My family and I use Spotify every single day, but our main method of interaction is via Google Assistant, and I only use the Spotify app when making or listening to playlists.
Apple Music is an excellent alternative for people who don't want to deliver their money to Spotify, but it lacks the same level of compatibility or social interactivity. As great as Apple Music is, and as many advancements it's made to make it less of a walled garden, it's still not great for PC users in particular. There's still no app -- you have to make do with iTunes, even though it's been long-dead for most Mac users. Yes, Apple has both Apple AirPlay 2 and Siri, and they're designed to work together seamlessly. While Apple Music is also one of the services Google Assistant users can choose, I went back to Spotify after two weeks as I found Apple Music failed to find tracks as consistently.
When it comes to Spotify, there are even more features -- both hidden and in plain sight -- that not every user will use them all. And new features are being added all the time, with audiobooks the latest in a long line of add-ons. Alongside the fledgling feature, Podcasts has become one of the major tentpoles of Spotify. However, it's only with the latest mobile update that the feature has been visible. But there are plenty of podcasts to choose from including the Spotify Original Heavyweight. The popular music game Heardle is another recent acquisition by Spotify, though it's not yet integrated into the app.
One of the best reasons to choose Spotify over other services is the sheer size of its catalog. As a long-term user, I've only ever encountered a couple of instances where music wasn't available. From the obscure to the popular it's likely that if it isn't on Spotify then it isn't available on streaming. Some artists have legitimate reasons not to be on the platform, whether it's the infamous bust-up between Neil Young and Joe Rogan, or that they would rather be on services that offer better rates, such as Tidal or Bandcamp.
From its controversial $200 million deal with podcaster Joe Rogan to what are reportedly the lowest artist payouts in the industry, no other streaming service is as polarizing as Spotify.
In recent years the company's payouts to artists have come under the spotlight, and based on reports the company pays some of the lowest rates in the industry. This is especially galling to some musicians in light of the Rogan deal, and you might well balk at having to pay for podcasts you don't even listen to. (Especially if you don't have the time to listen to a bunch of bros talk for three hours straight.)
Sometimes Spotify features are released that just don't pan out. Take Car Thing, for example: In 2022 this car-friendly dongle came and went, ending before even summer did. Running was another high-profile feature that Spotify retired, which matched a playlist to a person's running cadence.
Lastly, Spotify is beginning to show its age -- from the green-and-black interface it's had since 2014 to its uncanny ability to hide new features such as podcasts or audiobooks on the desktop version. Most of the service's competitors have been able to showcase its expanding range of offerings in a better way -- from spatial audio to radio.
There is no such thing as a perfect streaming service, but Spotify comes closer than most by offering a large catalog of music and a myriad of ways to interact with it. For $10 a month it includes a bunch of fun features, including Wrapped and podcasts, and is more than enough for the needs of most people.
On the other hand, if you want music in lossless quality, or don't want to pay for podcasts, Apple Music is an excellent alternative, albeit better if you have an iPhone, Mac or Apple TV. Yet whichever service you choose, know that you're getting the best value for your money with either option. Not even video streaming services offer this much for this little a month.
According to The Information, Microsoft’s proposed super app, which would aggregate shopping, messaging, web search, news feeds, and other services in a one-stop smartphone app, has been considered in order to break Google and Apple’s grip on the mobile search space.
The Windows company hoped to use the super app to boost its ad business as well. Furthermore, the app is proposed to draw attention to other Microsoft products such as Bing and Teams.
The report goes on to say that it’s unclear whether Microsoft will eventually launch such an app, but it’s something that’s been discussed internally. CEO Satya Nadella is spearheading Microsoft’s push to better integrate into mobile products, with a particular emphasis on “pushing the Bing search engine to work better with other Microsoft mobile products.”
According to The Information, Microsoft has previously bid on this deal but has always been outbid by Google. According to the report, “the negotiations have typically taken place directly between Nadella and top Apple executives behind closed doors.” As a result, “many top Microsoft executives are unaware of the process.”
There is no indication that Microsoft intends to pursue a deal with Apple to make Bing the default search engine on the iPhone. Instead, the company’s efforts are concentrated on improving Bing integration with existing Microsoft services and considering the possibility of a super app.
The sources for this piece include an article in Reuters.
San Francisco, Nov 4 (IANS) Tech giant Apple has added a News integration for regional weather stories to the Weather app in the beta release of iOS 16.2.
With this feature, users will get to see updates on the weather in their area, i.e. users will find a link to an article in the Apple News section that will show the updates on weather conditions in their areas.
According to 9to5Mac, there are no settings to turn off News integration in the current beta, and Apple does not currently allow users to choose which data tiles are displayed in its weather app.
If the user deletes the News app, the 'Open in News' links are still there and functional. When a story is tapped, the web version of that story is found at the Apple News URL.
Weather isn't the first app to receive cross-pollination from specific subjects in Apple News. Apple's Stocks app presents relevant business stories from Apple News based on which companies you follow, according to a report.
Meanwhile, last month Apple's iOS 16.2 beta released an update that will allow users to send a report to the company when Emergency SOS has been unintentionally triggered.
As reported by 9to5Mac, Apple's iOS 16.2 beta now asks users for feedback when cancelling Emergency SOS mode. A notification appears that opens the Feedback Assistant so Apple can receive data about what happened.
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The ultimate goal for doctors, medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, insurance companies and other health-care organizations is to help each of us lead a longer, healthier life. But at present, incentives in the industry put too much emphasis on treatment and not enough on wellness and prevention. Only about 3 percent of the $4 trillion spent by the U.S. medical industry is currently spent on prevention.
Recent advances in scientific wellness offer a way to extract more benefits from this investment. But science alone isn’t enough. Delivering targeted interventions that extend the health-span—the number of years a person lives in good health—of millions of people requires translating scientific discoveries into a wellness industry.
In recent years, a wave of start-up companies have begun to do exactly that. Dozens of firms are now offering aspects of what could eventually grow into an ecosystem of businesses and organizations that provide all the steps in the process of keeping each of us healthy. These steps include administering tests that yield data relevant to an individual’s state of wellness, interpreting that data, and providing safe and effective interventions to stave off disease. These interventions can be as simple as making it easier for people to choose foods that help them maintain their health, rather than sugary drinks and fries, as well as more targeted actions such as optimizing levels of a vitamin or administering a drug. Unlike much of the current wellness industry, these interventions must be rooted in science, personalized to the individual and trackable in a way that makes it possible to measure the results over time.
Although the scientific wellness industry is still in its infancy, a great deal of progress has been made in all three areas: testing, interpreting and intervening.
An important part of the testing infrastructure for scientific wellness is already in place. Numerous testing platforms deliver insights to individuals or their health-care practitioners to help Excellerate wellness. The vast majority of U.S. adults live within a short drive of labs that can take measurements from blood, which track disease risk factors such as hemoglobin (HbA1c), LDL and HDL cholesterol, thyroid markers, hormone levels, as well as accumulated biotoxins such as lead, mercury or PFOs.
Some firms are now offering products to make more effective use of data from these standard tests. Inside Tracker, WellnessFx, and others use these kinds of biomarkers to provide personalized insights into nutrition and lifestyle choices. Biological age—the age your body says you are as opposed to the age the calendar says you are—can provide insights into the health of different organs and biological processes via common clinical blood measures, such as with the test we developed at Thorne HealthTech. Another way is to use epigenetic methylation markers on DNA, which can be obtained from a test called myDNAge.
One way to make testing more effective is to make the data collection as easy as possible. For example, at Thorne we recently developed a “microbiome wipe” that makes collecting a stool trial as easy as using toilet paper, replacing the old “poop and scoop” approach that consumers dislike. Other start-ups are bringing testing now available only in labs or in the doctor’s office to the individual. Blood samples can now be collected at home simply, and nearly painlessly, with devices such as the OneDraw or Tasso. These samples can be paired with commercial health labs for compatible health tests. A device for the home, such as the COR, can provide immediate feedback based on infrared spectroscopy from blood samples, which would be useful for monitoring responses to interventions or behavior changes and measuring the magnitude of change.
Genetic testing provides a fundamental basis from which to guide personalized scientific wellness. Ancestry, 23andme, and other firms have now performed genetic tests for more than 30 million people, providing insights into genetic predisposition to diseases, how well an individual metabolizes caffeine, and more. Many companies provide health advice based on genomics. For instance, 3x4 Genetics produces genetic reports intended to be interpreted with guidance from a physician. And Self Decode provides personalized diet and lifestyle plans, informed by genetics, directly to consumers, or included in comprehensive health programs.
Much more needs to be done to make genetic testing more widely used and effective. Although getting access to a genome is as easy as swabbing your cheek and sending it for a commercial test, greater insights will come when we can integrate genomic data with other types of data, such as blood measurements. An individual’s genes can predict how successful they will be in lowering their LDL cholesterol through lifestyle interventions, for example. This kind of analysis must be spread across all kinds of health measures if we are to provide each individual with a personalized blueprint for improving health.
Wearable devices have great potential to provide data that can contribute to wellness. The Apple Watch, Fitbit and other products now provide information on activity, sleep, heart rate variability, and more. Such data can be integrated across many devices through Apple Health or CommonHealth on Android phones. Continuous glucose-monitoring devices, such as the FreeStyle Libre or Dexcom, provide real-time feedback on how blood sugar levels rise after eating different foods. It’s now possible to get a great reading on how well your body controls sugar, a key metric for metabolic health, which is probably the number-one driver of health throughout life for most people. Wearable technology still has a way to go to reach the full potential of scientific wellness.
Wearables need to encompass an ever greater set of measurements, noninvasively and comfortably, than they do now. For example, devices can now provide continuous monitoring of glucose levels in the blood, but they cannot combine them with measurements of insulin, which would have a big impact on health. Devices also must be able to monitor a much wider range of compounds. No device can accurately and passively monitor the intake of calories, for example.
Another way devices can be improved is to more deeply tie noninvasive and passive daily measurements to predictions of important health conditions. While lab tests are good as a “snapshot,” tests of balance, vision, cognitive ability and other functions fill out the picture and are an important way to monitor and Excellerate wellness. Brain health monitoring is also important for healthy aging; cognitive training tools such as Posit Science’s BrainHQ, supported now by studies reported in more than 200 scientific papers, can make a big difference. Continuing integration of such approaches with deep molecular measurements will provide deep insights into the relationship between behavior, nutrition and healthy functioning of the brain.
The next step in scientific wellness is to turn testing data into meaningful insights that can enhance wellness and help each of us to work towards health goals. The two main ways of gaining this insight are through human experts and guided AI—or, more commonly, a combination of both. The key objective is to make the observations actionable for individuals.
Since the biology behind scientific wellness decisions can be complex, this is no easy task. The important thing is to make sure that the cognitive burden of this complexity does not fall on the individual—neither the patient nor the doctor—but rather is absorbed in data analytics by whatever company or organization is providing the service. Providers must deliver simple and clear recommendations, backed by evidence that patients and doctors can understand, even when that evidence is hugely complex. Simplicity and transparency are essential for the credibility of the feedback individuals get.
At present, too often companies in the wellness industry skip this step and cater instead to people looking for easy answers. This practice has left consumers in the difficult position of having to determine whether a company’s claims for a test or intervention are evidence-based or hucksterism. When a product claims to have broad positive effects on practically everything, that’s a red flag. Focusing on trusted brands with long track records or those with high-caliber scientists involved is critical.
The same holds for test interpretations aimed at physicians or other health-care professionals, who then provide solutions to their patients. Doctors have a great deal of expertise in their domain, but they can’t know everything about every genetic variant and blood marker and the intricate relationships among them. Most important, practitioners generally have tight time constraints when dealing with patients and only see them occasionally. Scientific wellness can play a major role through continuous interaction with individuals as they focus on maintaining and enhancing their health throughout their life. And since medical research focuses on disease, wellness science can fill a big gap in data for people who are basically in good health. The analysis of the data sets of scientific wellness must lead to simple summaries and clear actions, so the doctor can communicate efficiently and effectively with the patient.
The AI that assists in these interpretations must surface the most relevant and pertinent information when it matters most. The logic behind its recommendations needs to be understandable to a doctor or consumer and cannot just be a black box like search and recommendation algorithms. Transparency makes it possible to integrate the AI with the judgment of experts to know when there might be exceptions or additional context that falls outside the scope of the AI’s algorithms.
Many companies are developing tools to interpret data and suggest personalized actions to Excellerate health. Some focus on behavioral change, such as Levels and Noom. Others, such as Thorne HealthTech and DayTwo, interpret microbiome tests to make recommendations about lifestyle, diet and nutrition. Other firms, such as January.ai and NutriSense, provide insights based on continuous glucose- monitoring data. Apps such as Welltory and Humanity integrate digital health data to provide insights.
An exciting development is the use of a “digital twin” as an in silico representation of an individual’s specific biology. In principle, clinicians or companies can use them to make predictions of the effects of interventions on the individual and represent the variability of response across large populations. The combination of digital twins that represent individual biology with machine learning from patient data provides a powerful approach to deciphering the complexity of wellness and disease. For example, Thorne HealthTech has partnered with a start-up digital twin company, EmbodyBio, to build a detailed predictive model of how the brain maintains its health, integrating data from more than 900 scientific papers. We used this model to perform 10 million digital-twin simulations and compared these against 30 human clinical studies, matching closely the age at which people develop Alzheimer’s disease based on a host of genetic and lifestyle risk factors.
To best serve individuals, the entities that collect data and interpret it must be able to share data with one another, including a combination of scientific wellness data and the disease-focused data from health-care systems. Although the ability to share data is improving as health care moves from the clinic to the smartphone, it is still difficult to bring it all together. Companies like Particle Health and Seqster are working on the interoperability and shareability of information on many different platforms, including traditional electronic health records. These kinds of systems are critical as you move from place to place, and job to job, so that individuals don’t lose the continuity of their health-care data as they move through life.
Testing and AI-assisted recommendations must lead to concrete solutions that clinicians and providers can present as specific interventions. Scientific wellness is predicated on the idea of not being reactive to disease, as is most health care today, but being proactive in a way that enhances wellness and resilience, and that reverses disease transitions at their earliest, and simplest, stages. Because we are talking about interventions aimed at improving health in people who are not suffering from disease, any side effects of scientific wellness interventions must be minimal.
Intervening before disease develops is more than simply gathering data and making recommendations. Those recommendations will not be effective unless they are carried out. This gets us into the realm of lifestyle and behaviors. The wellness industry, and society in general, must make healthier decisions easier—they should be the default decisions in as many situations as possible. Experience and many studies have made it clear that willpower alone, though effective for some, will not succeed for most. Wellness firms must focus on providing solutions that people enjoy and help to make environments in which healthy options are easy to choose. Information alone is clearly not enough to motivate people to change their behavior or to achieve major improvements in wellness across a population. No wellness company that focuses on trying to get people to deliver up things they enjoy in favor of things they don’t enjoy is likely to succeed at scale over time. Solutions for scientific wellness must come through making products that enhance healthy living, easier to access and more affordable.
There are many consumer products that drive disease and poor health. Profit-driven food companies that optimize their products to sell have invested in processed foods that are addictive, hitting the brain’s pleasure center with sugars, salt and fats. A great deal of optimization and research have gone into identifying how to make these foods as hard as possible to stop eating. We need products that do the opposite. Part of this will involve educating consumers not to buy products that lead to poor health outcomes—and indeed this consumer pressure is mounting.
There are now major initiatives in the food industry aimed at simultaneously solving for these three key traits: delicious, affordable and nutritious. For example, Olipop has taken one of the unhealthiest categories—sugary sodas—and created botanical sodas. These drinks have many of the same flavors, but instead of 40 grams of sugar per serving with no fiber, they have two to five grams of sugar per serving, offset by nine grams of fiber. The difference shows clearly on a glucose monitor: a regular soda causes a major spike in blood glucose, while Olipop barely causes a rise at all and can help get sufficient fiber into a person’s diet.
The safety threshold for intervening in otherwise healthy people is much higher than for treating people who are already sick. This puts a burden on scientific wellness companies more akin to food companies than those in the pharmaceutical or medical device industries.
Precision interventions to Excellerate healthy aging require a higher safety threshold than interventions developed for late-stage disease. For this reason, scientific wellness won’t use the kind of drugs aimed primarily at late-stage disease. Implementing an intervention with serious side effects might be warranted and chosen for someone with a serious disease, but clearly not with individuals who are for the most part healthy.
This means we need to develop interventions that can be deployed with specificity and with low or no side effects. Although particularly safe drugs show promise for use in wellness and to Excellerate aging—metformin, for instance, is currently under study in the Targeting Aging with Metformin trial led by Nir Barzalai, the head of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and scientific director for the American Federation for Aging Research.
Many of these targeted interventions are likely to come from natural products guided by testing and personalized insights. Of course, just because something is in the natural world doesn’t necessarily make it safe, and nutraceuticals (nutrients that can also be used as medicines) can have strong biological effects. But the focus should be on those natural products that the Food and Drug Administration can categorize as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) or those that can be submitted to the FDA for classification as a New Dietary Ingredient.
Natural products can be used in the context of scientific wellness. This is a major area of interest to my company, Thorne HealthTech, which produces some 200 of these now, and many other companies operate in this space. Numerous studies have shown the effects of natural compounds, such as berberine, an analog of metformin, on improvement of metabolic health, control of lipids, and disease prevention. Another example is nicotinamide riboside, which has been shown to extend health-span in animal models. Functional studies in humans have shown that it boosts the production of NAD+, a coenzyme found in every cell in the body, but which declines with age. Time will tell whether the same effects on health-span will translate to humans. A probiotic based on Akkermansia, a gut microbe, available from Pendulum, was shown in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to Excellerate glucose control after meals and reduce levels in the blood of HbA1c, a diabetes marker. Many molecules identified in human and animal studies as being potentially associated with healthy longevity have yet to be commercialized and need to go through studies and trials.
Mining compounds from the natural world offers big opportunities to find new wellness-promoting intervention strategies. Doing this well requires a combination of expertise in collecting plants, extracting compounds, and analyzing them. For instance, companies such as Enveda Biosciences and Brightseed are using mass spectrometry on medicinal plants that have been used by humans, in some cases, for thousands of years, generating data on millions of new natural compounds. Albert-László Barabási, a professor at Northeastern University, and his team have amassed a complex network of compounds found in food. They have created a tool, FoodMine, that uses natural-language processing to search the scientific literature for compounds in foods. Using technology to learn more deeply what exists in the natural world—and building deliverable products from these discoveries—holds tremendous promise for wellness.
Although many startups have made good progress in bringing wellness out of the lab and into the marketplace, the business is still in its early stages. Many challenges still need to be worked out.
Fulfilling the promise of wellness will require a great deal of additional investment. Established and reputable sales and business channels are needed. This can be especially challenging for start-ups that have exciting new technologies but struggle to find the sales channels needed to connect with consumers, many of whom are unaware of the benefits these new products could bring.
Data privacy is another challenge. To strike a balance between privacy and access to data, the individual must be the central connector for all their data and in control of how it’s used and shared. Apple Health, CommonHealth and other apps make this easy in some cases, giving the user a single button for controlling what data the apps can share and with whom.
Gathering all this health data requires connecting the data that wellness companies collect with electronic health records that now house most disease data. Bridging these worlds is a huge opportunity to discover new insights into wellness. Companies that specialize in integrating biological data, such as LifeOmic, Seqster, G42 Healthcare and CareEvolution, as well as efforts spun out of most of the large health-care providers, are building the software infrastructure for doing so. Medical data is still largely guarded among competing commercial interests and sequestered by various health-care systems in the U.S. Countries with single-payer health-care systems, such as the U.K. and Israel, and more open data sharing are generally further ahead in this regard.
The industry also needs to reach a critical mass. As businesses provide more people with the tools of scientific wellness, scientists will have more opportunities to collect data and use it to come up with new insights. At present, scientists have to use large longitudinal, multifaceted studies that gather data in ways that protect individuals’ privacy, but at the same time allow scientists to tease out useful information about wellness and disease. For example, these types of data have helped us make many discoveries about the health effects of the microbiome, such as how much of the diversity of the gut microbiome is reflected by compounds that get into the bloodstream, how differences in the gut microbiome are predictive of success in weight loss, how the microbiome predicts the efficacy and side effects of statin use, and how the microbiome of a person becomes increasingly unique over time, if they age in a healthy way. As businesses succeed in delivering meaningful results that keep people coming back, and the number of people who interact repeatedly in scientific wellness programs grows, such studies will become more common, creating a positive feedback loop that will only make the benefits of wellness science more apparent.
The idea of fostering wellness dates back to ancient practices designed to meet our universal needs: eating nutritious food, practicing meditation and yoga, and engaging in strength training and aerobic movement. But bringing the practice of wellness into the scientific realm, where we can measure and assess its effectiveness, is only now beginning. Although the business of scientific wellness is still in its early stages, it is an exciting time.
Nathan Price is Chief Scientific Officer of Thorne HealthTech and codirects the Hood-Price Lab for Systems Biomedicine at the Institute for Systems Biology.
Find out more about Phenome Health’s efforts to transform the future of health care here. Learn more about phenomics, the new science of wellness, in other stories in this special report.
iMessage was first introduced back at iOS 5 in 2011 as a neat feature, allowing iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users to quickly send and receive messages over the internet, in tandem with SMS messages operating in the same app.
Ten major iOS updates on, iMessage continues to be a great Apple-exclusive feature, now with a handful of cool and creative features that a simple text message can’t contain. Here are five of the features we reckon you should know if you want to be an iMessage wiz.
Just a quick heads-up, you can only do the things we’re talking about in this article on an iOS device – sorry Android users, your green bubbles won’t cut it.
This one’s a cheeky hack that I didn’t even know about until I started exploring iMessage features – did you know that you can disable read receipts?
You can do this individually, by accessing the contact information section of the person you want to message. Just tap on their icon bubble at the top of the screen and then disable sending read receipts with a switch.
You can also do this through Settings. Settings > Messages > Send Read Receipts (toggle this off).
Instead of giving the recipient a read receipt, they'll receive "Delivered".
Everybody loves Memoji, Apple’s personalised emoji line that lets you build your own metaverse-like avatar to send in messages. You can send a recorded, face-tracked message with Memoji by tapping the Memoji tab at the top of your Apple keyboard or at the bottom of your screen when using iMessage.
The Memoji face surrounded by a yellow frame is for facial tracking, allowing you to record a message with your personalised character (or record a facial tracked reaction using an existing emoji!), alternatively, you can choose from a range of pre-made reaction faces in the “Stickers” tab. If nominated by the iMessage user, you can even have your contact’s images set as their Memoji.
One of the cooler iMessage features is Message Effects, cool little bits of personality that you can add to your iMessage bubbles. You can make your message slam against the screen of the receiver, appear with invisible ink that the reader must tap to reveal, or even send emojis that flood the screen as soon as the reader opens the iMessage chat. There are also a whole lot of other screen effects, like the lasers shown below.
If you’re interested in saving all of your messages for safekeeping or for when you need to search for something, you can have your messages saved in iCloud. Just go into your iCloud settings to enable this, or check that it’s already enabled.
Alternatively, if you want to save your iCloud space for other things like pictures, videos, backups and apps, you can also disable iCloud message syncing through iCloud settings. Personally, I don't back up my messages in iCloud, as it takes up a lot of space and I only use 5GB of storage.
Some apps on iOS have special integration for iMessage, allowing you to do certain things, send special messages or have access to app-exclusive sticker packs.
For example, Aussie-made Crossy Road has a fine selection of GIFs available for sending in the iMessage App. The Twitch app lets you send emotes from the channels you’re subscribed to, whereas Google Maps lets you share your real-life location.
There's even a special iMessage App Store, where you can download add-ons and sticker packs for the messaging service.
We've updated this article since it was first published.
Tesla is teasing the integration of an Apple Music app into its vehicle software, and the info came from an interesting place.
While most other automakers are turning to phone mirroring with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to handle media playback inside their cars, Tesla is insisting on integrating music services and other apps directly into its own user interface.
For years now, the automaker has been integrating different music streaming services directly inside its vehicles with apps built to work on its center displays.
Most famously, Tesla has integrated Spotify into its vehicles as the main music streaming app.
Last year, the automaker also integrated Tidal.
Tesla has been talking about adding a few other major ones, like Apple Music and Amazon Music, for years now, but it has yet to happen.
Now it looks like Tesla owners could be on the verge of getting an Apple Music app as Tesla has been spotted running the app on its own internal vehicles.
Interestingly, the information comes from people going to the Petersen Museum, a car museum in Los Angeles that currently has an exhibit in partnership with Tesla that includes several prototype vehicles, including the Roadster and Cybertruck.
Some people spotted that Tesla is running software inside some of those vehicles that includes an Apple Music app (via Reddit):
The app appears to be fully functional inside Tesla’s own vehicles, but the feature is currently not available to customers.
Tesla generally plans a big “holiday update” in late November or December that includes a lot of new features. It’s possible that Tesla is waiting for that update to pass the Apple Music app onto customers.
With more music apps inside its vehicles, Tesla has made changes to its user interface inside its vehicles in recent software updates in order to more easily manage your music apps and quickly access your main one.
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