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Running gadgets 2017: the top fitness tech to help you run better



Running is easy, right? It’s just going outside (or on a treadmill) and putting one foot in front of the other, rinse and repeat.

But, even an instinctive exercise like running can be improved through innovative technology. And, that’s what we’re here for.

Ask any runner, and after they tell you about all of the local public toilets and water fountains, they’ll surely tell you that the one thing all marathon addicts develop over time is a love of data.

Monitoring your form and knowing how fast, how far and just how close you are to a new personal best (PB) while you’re running is an amazing way to help you understand and optimize your training, spot areas to work on and edge you closer to realizing your goals.

While the best running watches, wireless earbuds, trainers and some sweat-wicking gear is probably at the top of your list, we went ahead and took the liberty to bring you a list of the best running gadgets that could bring you just that much closer to that ever elusive PB, one step further from injury and generally make running an easier, more enjoyable time.

Note: we’ve ranked these from cheapest to most expensive according to prices at time of writing.

1. FlipBelt

Ultimate stash belt for all your run-tech

Nothing falls out

Soft, secure and comfy

Need to take care with sizing

Not waterproof

The market is absolutely saturated with devices that feature data tracking, stats and apps, but FlipBelt is one of the most uncomplicated pieces of gear around. It’s also one of the most indispensable.

Pull the flexible fabric tube up around your waist, fill it with all your running essentials – phone, credit card, energy gels, emergency change for the public bathroom – and flip over. And, just like that, everything sits firmly around your waist.

Unlike a fanny pack with its adjustable straps and buckles, the belt sits flush against the skin so there’s essentially no bounce. No zips on the openings means no chafing and, assuming you get the correct size – there are five to choose from ranging from a 23- to 41-inch waist – there’s no riding up either.

You can even get water bottles designed to fit inside the belt, so it’s ‘goodbye’ to that sloshing lopsided gait.

2. Shapeheart Armband

Two-for-one HR tracker and phone holster

Heart rate tracking

Data syncs with Strava

It’s an armband

Heavier than other bands

Any runner that is striving to be more efficient in their exercise needs one thing above any other, and it’s a space-saving two-in-one gadget like the Shapeheart Armband.

Unless you’re planning to purchase the Apple Watch 3, carrying your phone on runs is often an unavoidable hassle and, while armbands aren’t everyone’s favorite, they’re regrettably necessary for most runners. And if that’s something you need, you may as well make it twice as useful.

Not only does the Shapeheart provide a convenient way to carry your phone, with a magnetic case that allows you to easily detach your phone from the strap to take calls, capture those necessary running selfies (or check Google Maps), it also monitors your heart rate.

A detachable optical heart rate (HR) sensor located in the neoprene armband sends your heart rate data to basically any running app you choose – Nike+, Strava and Runkeeper – so you can ensure you’re training in the right zone for your goals.

While it obviously won’t be as accurate as a HR chest strap, the armband should be more trustworthy than the data from a watch as you’re less likely to get that gap between sensor and wrist that can cause irregular HR stats.

3. Lumo Run Sensor

Comprehensive form advice

Helpful post-run video drills

Easy to lose

No third party app sync

The Lumo Run is one of the best running gadgets in the world, and anyone who is serious about improving their performance and speed should be paying attention.

With no less than seven different sensors, including an accelerometer, gyroscope and vibration sensor, all you need to do is attach the 25g lightweight device to the back of your shorts and you’ve negated the need for a trip to the augmentations lab.

Lumo tracks all your essential running form stats – that’s cadence (steps per minute), bounce, pelvic movement and how much brake you apply with each step – and sends them to the Lumo app for you to obsess over later, along with personalized recommendations for pre- and post-run exercises based on how you’ve just performed.

You’ll also get tips on aspects of your form to work on during each run, along with live audio-coaching to help you adjust your form on the go.

The caveat for those who prefer running on the light-side, however, is that audio cues and GPS stats, such as pace and distance, are only available if you take your phone along for the ride (see the Shapeheart Armband listed above).

With 20 days of run time and onboard storage for sessions where you want to track phone-free runs this is your best tool for developing your form.

4. Jaybird X3

Lightweight sounds for wireless miles

Excellent adaptable sound

Good battery life

Proprietary charging dock

Intermittent signal

The Jaybird X2 in-ear headphones were extremely popular among runners and we expect the X3 to follow in that tradition These new neckband-style Bluetooth earbuds improve upon their predecessors in nearly every way and even come in at a more respectable price.

To begin with, they’re slightly smaller but keep the sweat-proof design and shockingly great sound.

Bluetooth 4.1 means longer battery life that can easily last you through a marathon with battery to spare, while there’s also more precise control over the audio, thanks to a new companion MySound app that lets you fiddle with sound levels to your heart’s content.

However, what really makes them significant to any runner is how great they fit while running. The wide variety of fitting options means they stay secure in your ears while the lightweight cable eliminates any tug. The only thing that reminds you they’re attached to your head at all is your exercise jam motivating you to strive for that PB.

Read the full review: Jaybird X3

5. AfterShokz Trekz Air

Perfect for safer running soundtracks in urban spaces

Super lightweight

Improve awareness for safer running

Uncomfortable on longer runs

Sound leakage

Designed exclusively for working out, the new generation of wireless AfterShokz IP55 sweat-resistant bone-conduction headphones weighs in at just 30g, that’s about 20% lighter than the original Trekz Titanium – because every gram counts when you’re shooting for a PB.

Ideal for running, no wires means no pulling your earbuds out with every arm swing, six hours of music and calls from a 90-minute full charge means they’ll see you through a marathon with time to spare.

The battery life is far from its most important feature, however, the open-ear design allows you to hear what’s going on around you at all times, particularly important on darker nights and misty mornings and makes them race legal in the UK for open-road running.

Other useful improvements include dual noise cancelling mics so you can actually take that call while you’re on the run (as long as you can breathe) and redesigned bone transducers that deliver more bass, one of our biggest bugbears with previous AfterShokz. The pause button has been overhauled to be easier to tap too… in short, this is a brilliant upgrade.

And because sport headphones tend to spend a lot of time kicking about in the bottom of a bag, they come with a durable premium titanium frame and wraparound band that can withstand a few knocks.

6. Altra Torin IQ

Smart shoes for improving technique

Form tracking without extra gear

Detailed running dynamics insights

Live coaching lacks finesse

Only one style of shoe

Designed to improve your technique and reduce the chance of injury, just about the only thing these smart trainers don’t do is run for you.

As you plod the pavements they’re collecting all kinds of data via lightweight pressure sensors that run the length of the shoes, storing the stats on the Altra IQ app and providing live coaching tips to help you improve your stride.

Monitoring cadence, impact every time you hit the ground, data on how you’re landing – heel, midfoot or forefoot first – how your stride changes with terrain and elevation and even how long your foot is in contact with the floor, these zero-drop cushioned shoes are a stat-loving strider’s dream.

7. LifeBeam Vi

The future of run coaching

Excellent cadence coaching

Brilliant audio

Limited post-run stats

No training plans

Vi is an AI running coach who lives in specially designed earphones. Offering personalized advice based on your goals and running history, she’ll adapt to your training schedule and throw out workout suggestions and tips as you run.

The bio-sensing earphones track your speed, distance, cadence, elevation, heart rate and more so Vi can train you on the go, encouraging you to keep going when you’re about to hit a new goal, telling you to slow down if you have a tendency to set off too fast, offering pace-specific training and suggesting recovery days or harder sessions where necessary.

Rather creepily, Vi also knows your name, the weather and where you are and can tailor her advice to your current situation, such as throwing in a few tips for running in the rain if you’re heading into winter.

Ambitious by design, Vi represents the future of running and fitness gadgets. We’ve spent a lot of time with her – the AI is female – and while right now she’s a great tool for casual and newer runners building fitness, she lacks a few of the essential features that will satisfy the more serious runners chasing PBs.

However, with the ability to support years of software upgrades, Vi can only get better as you do and for those who’d love real-time run coaching but can’t afford it, Vi could make for a good AI option.

8. Halo Sport

Using brain science to improve your performance

Uses science to improve performance

Free scalp massage

Bulky to wear

Audio quality could improve

There’s a reason these headphones look like they’re going to tweak your brain – they are.

Part of a rising trend for applying advanced neuroscience to sport and fitness, Halo Sport employs clever, and somewhat complex, brain science to make you run faster. Worn before your workout, Halo delivers a tingling electrical stimulation over a 20-minute warm up period known as ‘neuropriming’.

The idea is that electric signals help the movement-controlling neurons in your brain fire more easily.

Your brain learns to repeat movements such as the strides you make when running through a process called plasticity, but neuropriming is intended to get your brain into a state of ‘hyper-plasticity’ so it reaches its fine-tuning state more quickly and you get greater muscle control and better results from your workout.

Small-scale studies with baseball team San Francisco Giants showed improvements in speed and explosiveness and there’s a weight of scientific research to back up their effectiveness.

However, unless you really, really care about shaving that elusive minute off your Parkrun time, then this might be a trend to monitor rather than dive in to at this stage.


A lover of all things tech, love all things that uses creative juices (not an innuendo) an avid blogger and part time vlogger, now stop reading and go check out some awesome posts on this site.

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Facebook personal data use and privacy settings ruled illegal by German court | Technology



The court found that Facebook collects and uses personal data without providing enough information to its members for them to render meaningful consent.
Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook’s default privacy settings and use of personal data are against German consumer law, according to a judgement handed down by a Berlin regional court.

The court found that Facebook collects and uses personal data without providing enough information to its members for them to render meaningful consent. The federation of German consumer organisations (VZBV), which brought the suit, argued that Facebook opted users in to features which it should not have.

Heiko Duenkel, litigation policy officer at the VZBV, said: “Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy friendly in its privacy centre and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register. This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.”

In a statement, VZBV elaborated on some of its issues: “In the Facebook app for smartphones, for example, a location service was pre-activated that reveals a user’s location to people they are chatting to.

“In the privacy settings, ticks were already placed in boxes that allowed search engines to link to the user’s timeline. This meant that anyone could quickly and easily find personal Facebook profiles.”

The Berlin court agreed with VZBV that the five default settings the group had complained about were invalid as declarations of consent. The German language judgment was handed down in mid-January, but only publicly revealed on Monday.

The court also ruled eight clauses in Facebook’s terms of service to be invalid, including terms that allow Facebook to transmit data to the US and use personal data for commercial purposes. The company’s “authentic name” policy – a revision of a rule that once required users to use their “real names” on the site, but which now allows them to use any names they are widely known by – was also ruled unlawful.

In a statement, Facebook said it would appeal, adding: “We are working hard to ensure that our guidelines are clear and easy to understand, and that the services offered by Facebook are in full accordance with the law.”

A week after the Berlin court ruled against Facebook, the social network promised to radically overhaul its privacy settings, saying the work would prepare it for the introduction in Europe of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a sweeping set of laws governing data use across the EU.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, announced the changes, saying they would “put the core privacy settings for Facebook in one place and make it much easier for people to manage their data”.

The European Union’s new stronger, unified data protection laws, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will come into force on 25 May 2018, after more than six years in the making.

GDPR will replace the current patchwork of national data protection laws, give data regulators greater powers to fine, make it easier for companies with a “one-stop-shop” for operating across the whole of the EU, and create a new pan-European data regulator called the European Data Protection Board.

The new laws govern the processing and storage of EU citizens’ data, both that given to and observed by companies about people, whether or not the company has operations in the EU. They state that data protection should be both by design and default in any operation.

GDPR will refine and enshrine the “right to be forgotten” laws as the “right to erasure”, and give EU citizens the right to data portability, meaning they can take data from one organisation and give it to another. It will also bolster the requirement for explicit and informed consent before data is processed, and ensure that it can be withdrawn at any time.

To ensure companies comply, GDPR also gives data regulators the power to fine up to €20m or 4% of annual global turnover, which is several orders of magnitude larger than previous possible fines. Data breaches must be reported within 72 hours to a data regulator, and affected individuals must be notified unless the data stolen is unreadable, ie strongly encrypted.

Facebook has faced repeated attacks from European regulators, particularly those in Germany, over issues ranging from perceived anti-competitive practices to alleged misuse of customer data.

Since March 2016, the company has been investigated by the German Federal Cartel Office over allegations it breaches data protection law in order to support an unfair monopoly. In an interim update in December last year, the office said that it objected to the way Facebook gains access to third-party data when an account is opened. This includes transferring information from its own WhatsApp and Instagram products – as well as how it tracks which sites its users access.

In October, Facebook was the target of an EU-wide investigation over a similar issue. The Article 29 Working Party (WP29), which oversees data regulation issues across the European Union, launched a taskforce to examine the sharing of user data between WhatsApp and Facebook, which it says does not have sufficient user consent. When the data sharing feature was first announced in 2016, the group warned Facebook that it may not be legal under European law, prompting the company to pause the data transfer until a resolution was found.

“Whilst the WP29 notes there is a balance to be struck between presenting the user with too much information and not enough, the initial screen made no mention at all of the key information users needed to make an informed choice, namely that clicking the agree button would result in their personal data being shared with the Facebook family of companies,” the group told WhatsApp in October.

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Samsung S9 vs iPhone X vs Pixel 2: which one should you buy?



In the last five months, three of the most well-known smartphone manufacturers – Apple, Samsung and Google – have announced new flagship devices. Google led the pack in October with the release of its Pixel 2, with Apple following a month later with the iPhone X. Now Samsung has revealed its own hand with the announcement of the Galaxy S9 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

There’s not a great deal separating these devices at the top-end of the smartphone market, although each device has its own strengths and weaknesses in different areas. So to help you work out the best device for your own needs, we’ve put together a guide to how they compare.


The Pixel 2 has a five-inch 1080p AMOLED display with a chunky bezel at the top and bottom of the screen. This is the smallest screen of the three flagships, which is to be expected since it has the smallest overall footprint too, but it does feel a little squeezed compared to the other two phones. Flip the Pixel 2 over and you’ll find some models have a contrast colour scheme on the back, with the top section of the phone a slightly different shade to the rest of the back. Whether this rocks your boat is down to personal preference, but its a nice touch of personality that is sometimes missing from these top-tier devices.


Enter the Samsung Galaxy S9. Its 5.8-inch Quad HD AMOLED screen takes up almost all of the front of the device, leaving just a narrow strip of bezel at either end. At either side, the screen gently curves around the sides of the device, blending neatly into the rear. On the back of the phone, the fingerprint scanner has been shifted to sit directly beneath the camera. Compared to the Pixel 2, the S9 is a much slicker-looking device, all smooth curves and shiny glass, that fits much more screen into a similarly-sized device. It’s also the only of these devices to have a 3.5 mm headphone jack, so if you’re still fully wired up, this is the phone for you.

Dimensions compared

The iPhone X also has a 5.8-inch, screen even though the device as a whole is a tad smaller than the S9. And as is the case with the S9, the iPhone X screen fills almost the entire of the front of the device, save for the notorious notch that takes a chunk out at the very top. There’s no fingerprint scanner on the iPhone X, since Apple decided to go all-in on Face ID with this model, and some people might find it more inconvenient using their face to verify payments or unlock the device instead of a finger, so that’s worth bearing in mind if you’re picking between the devices.


All three of these phones have extremely capable cameras, so picking between them again comes down to a matter of personal taste. The single-lens 12.2 megapixel rear-facing camera on the Pixel 2 has an aperture with an f-stop of 1.8, which makes it particularly well-suited to photography in low-light conditions – and recent software updates have given the camera another boost. Aside from its snapping skills, Google has integrated some machine learning smarts into its camera so you can point its at an object in the real world and use Google Assistant to identify it and bring up relevant information.


Since it’s only just been announced, the jury is still out on the Galaxy S9 camera, although initial indications are that Samsung has managed to set a new high when it comes to smartphone cameras. Like the Pixel 2, the main S9 camera also has one lens, and a 12 megapixel sensor, but the S9 has another trick up its sleeve. A variable aperture feature widens up the camera’s f-stop in low light conditions, letting in way more light than most smartphone cameras are able to capture in relative darkness. In normal light conditions, the camera automatically switches to a more conventional f-stop for better focussing. The ability to record slow-mo at 960 fps is a nice too, too.

Cameras compared

The iPhone X also has a 12 megapixel sensor, but this one is a part of a dual-lens setup, with one wide-angle lens paired with a telephoto lens for photos with plenty of Instagram-friendly bokeh. Dual optical image stabilisation smooths out videos taken in bumpy circumstances while the X’s quad-LED flash is supposed to smoothly light backgrounds and foregrounds without washing subjects out.


There’s not an awful lot between these phones when it comes to their insides. The S9 and Pixel 2 both have super-fast eight-core processors, while the X’s six-core processor is more than capable of powering everything the phone can do. If plenty of storage capacity is a must, then the S9 has a Micro SD slot that can fit in up to a 400 GB SD card, while the Pixel and the X both max out at 256 GB. When it comes to battery, however, the S9 leads the pack with its 3,00mAh battery, while the X’s battery weighs in at 2716mAh and the Pixel 2 at 2,700. All should last a day of mixed use.


If you’re in the market for a new phone and only the best will do, then you’ve got a tough decision ahead of you. In terms of specs, these phones are more or less on par with each other, but if a big screen is a must then you can rule out the Pixel 2 and decide between the other contenders. Photos are more subjective, and each of these phones will hardly disappoint in the camera department, so it’s worth taking the time to get hands-on with these devices and take a few test shots to decide which one is really ticking your boxes. Whichever you chose, you can’t go far wrong.

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