first_img Spotify onboard, but not reallyFitbit’s had music support on its previous Ionic and Versa watches, but it could only side-load MP3s from a computer or work with Pandora premium and Deezer. Spotify Premium is a new app that will also come to Fitbit’s other Versa watches later in the year. But, while I initially thought it would allow Spotify downloads to the watch, much like you can on Samsung smartwatches and Garmin watches (Garmin recently added Amazon Music support to its watches, too), it turns out this is only a remote Spotify Connect app that enables control of songs from the Spotify phone app… which isn’t much of a feature. Fitbit Versa 2 can store music, but only via side-loads, Deezer and Pandora’s premium service.47-fitbit-versa-2Spotify makes the Versa 2, finally, seem like a music watch. Sarah Tew/CNET Versa 2 adds some overdue upgrades, but no GPS or ECGBattery life is another advantage the Versa 2 has over its predecessors: The battery now lasts five days instead of four. Its AMOLED display can work in a new always-on mode for a couple of days. Apps load faster and the watch is more responsive thanks to that new processor. It has the same 50-meter water resistance as previous models and works with existing Versa watch bands, but the charger, which I thought at first was the same as previous Versa chargers, is actually slightly different. This continues an unfortunate trend: Each Fitbit tracker has had its own distinct charger. Fitbit Pay, a contactless-payment competitor to Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, is also onboard — and not just on the premium edition like last time.But the Versa 2 also lacks some features: It doesn’t have onboard GPS, making the aging Fitbit Ionic the only GPS-enabled Fitbit device. Fitbit didn’t add any FDA-cleared health features, either. Meanwhile the Apple Watch Series 4 and Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 both have electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) technology to sense atrial fibrillation, although Samsung’s isn’t FDA-cleared yet.14-fitbit-versa-2A bunch of the new straps, which also work with older Versa models (the patterned one on the right comes with the Special Edition). Sarah Tew/CNET Fitbit’s newest health addition, Sleep Score, doesn’t need a new watchFitbit’s biggest new health features are sleep-related and could promise to make inroads to sleep tracking where the competition still hasn’t. A new Sleep Score function that was in beta earlier this year will provide more detailed sleep results and grades your night’s sleep based on your resting heart rate, REM and deep sleep measurements and time spent sleeping. (I tried the Sleep Score beta earlier this year and it was a decent upgrade.) The Sleep Score feature will work with any Fitbit that tracks heart rate, but more detailed results and guidance will need a Premium subscription. Fitbit’s also adding a “smart wake” function that will time an alarm to a window in a sleep cycle that will feel less disruptive, according to the company.fitbit-premium-ios-programs-understanding-caloriesFitbit Premium’s extra programs will aim for health coaching. Fitbit Fitbit Premium will eventually offer customized health care guidanceFitbit’s subscription service will focus on exercises, weight loss and general wellness insights when it launches in September. It will prepare a Wellness Report you can show to a doctor, which plans to summarize key Fitbit-collected fitness data. What that amounts to sounds like a summarized chart of exercise, sleep, heart rate and weight over time.Additional health reports are going to be added later on, with a focus on other chronic conditions. This looks to dovetail with an extra add-on service coming in 2020 and being pilot-tested in the US later this year. The new service will also add personalized health coaching, with one-on-one guidance that sounds like a digital trainer. It sounds like this will be a bigger push from Fitbit to become a digital health services provider, but the jury’s still out on how much these one-on-one services will help with challenges like weight loss or diabetes management, two of the conditions Fitbit mentions in its press release. Will Fitbit Premium start to become a service that feels like an at-home trainer? Will its extras (which include some social fitness games and a limited launch selection of programs called things like Get More Zzz’s, Habits for Restful Sleep, Understand Calories and Kick Your Salt Habit) feel essential? Fitbit’s offering a 90-day trial period for its Premium service, but only with the $230 Special Edition of the Versa 2, which comes with an extra, good-looking woven nylon band. Otherwise, it will cost $10 a month, or $80 a year. The Fitbit Versa 2 looks like it’s the best Fitbit device to date. But Fitbit’s subscription service points to a future where software might eventually be more important to the company than hardware.Correction, 1:24 p.m. PT: This story originally misstated the Spotify app’s abilities. It only allows remote control of phone app. 13 3:49 Tags Comments Share your voice The Fitbit Versa 2 has a similar look, but a lot of new features. Sarah Tew/CNET September is shaping up to be a big month for smartwatches. Fitbit on Wednesday announced its new Versa 2, which will arrive in stores on Sept. 15. Samsung has a new smartwatch arriving two days earlier on Sept. 13, and a new Apple Watch is likely around the corner, too. But, the $200 Fitbit Versa 2 has new features that could rise above the competition. The next generation of Fitbit’s most successful smartwatch adds Amazon Alexa connectivity, along with a better display, a faster processor and longer battery life. Fitbit’s also launching a new coaching and fitness guidance subscription service called Fitbit Premium. It will cost $10 a month or $80 a year and is not exclusive to the Versa 2. Fitbit Premium will offer guided plans and workouts covering everything from exercise regimens to weight loss and calorie-counting guides, along with what Fitbit promises will be a customized mix of suggestions based on your collected fitness data. Will Fitbit Premium be worth the subscription cost over Fitbit’s already robust and free app? I can’t tell yet because I haven’t tested it. But it sounds like it could offer more proactive lifestyle coaching in addition to just tracking your information, which is something that I’ve been looking for in a fitness tracker and still haven’t quite found.Fitbit announced its new watch and service, along with a new $50 basic smart scale called the Fitbit Aria Air that measures weight and BMI, at an event in New York where I got to look at the Versa 2 and its accessories up close.08-fitbit-versa-2Alexa is built in and gives text responses on-wrist. Sarah Tew/CNET What Alexa can and can’t doFitbit’s never had a microphone or any voice assistant functions on any of its previous fitness trackers. You can activate Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant on the Versa 2 by pressing and holding the single side button. Give your command and wait for the action or answer to pop up on screen. You won’t hear Alexa’s voice, though: Because the watch lacks a speaker, answers are delivered via text responses.Alexa will work on Android phones or iPhones (provided the Alexa app is also installed) and can search for general information, control smart home devices, find local businesses, start or stop timers and do other Alexa-like things. It can also transcribe voice responses to messages, but only on Android phones. It won’t control music on the Versa 2, though, and it won’t control fitness tracker controls until later in the year. I’ll know more about how Alexa works on the Versa 2 once I test it out in our full review.Still, adding Alexa is a step up from previous Fitbits and it’s a fascinating new direction. Fitbit Versa 2 and Fitbit Premium promise to revamp my… Mobile Wearable Tech Fitness Now playing: Watch this: Fitbit Fitnesslast_img read more


first_imgUnion Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday clarified that fears of of privatizing railway operations are misplaced, saying seeking private participation is aimed at raising funds. Addressing an Asia Society event through video conferencing, Prabhu said that some people, especially the unions, “do not understand” the difference between merely getting private capital and privatisation.”There are unions who feel that Railways is going to be privatised, government will not own Railways anymore. Railways will continue to be an important, dominant part of India’s social-economic culture and Government of India will make sure that we’ve proper trade-offs between private participation which can come through proper regulatory framework,” he said, according to MoneyControl.com.Since the Narendra Modi government came to power, a lot of talk has been generated around foreign and private investment in the railways.This has been opposed by unions, who represent the two-million strong workforce of the state employer.Two of the unions had even come forward to offer employees’ provident fund deposits for upgrading the rail network.The resource crunch of the railways requires private investment, which would prove to be a “win-win” situation, benefiting the country and all its stakeholders – investors, passengers and most importantly the employees, Prabhu said.The Railway Minister added that “he wants to make Railways “vibrant, sustainable and an efficient effective business organisation” and promised to never let go of its agenda of doing social good. Travel by Indian Railways set to get more expensiveReuterslast_img read more


first_img Listen 00:00 /29:10 X To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: President Trump won the battle over his proposed border wall, but the war rages on. Despite Congress passing and the President signing a budget full of border security funds, including some for physical barriers, Trump declared a national emergency to tap into additional funds to build the wall his way.Party Politics co-hosts Brandon Rottinghaus and Jay Aiyer discuss the implications of this order, the political blowback and legislative relations following this executive action. NATIONAL TOPICS-2020 Roundup! (Feel the Bern, Bill Weld enters Republican fray, Obamas not endorsing)-New Jersey Attorney General looking into Trump’s inauguration-SCOTUS and the Census’ question on citizenship-Heather Nauert withdraws from UN ambassadorship-Trump talks Venezuela-Nobel Peace Prize for Trump? Japanese PM mum on his nominationTEXAS TOPICS-Senate poll has Beto O’Rourke close-Angela Paxton files legislation to help her husband-Kim Ogg is denied more prosecutors-Butterfly habitat saved from wall by CongressYou can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts. Tweet us using #PartyPoliticsPod or email partypoliticspod@houstonpublicmedia.org. Party Politics is produced by Don Geraci, the audio engineer is Todd Hulslander and our digital editor is Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz. This article is part of the Party Politics podcast Share Manuel Balce Ceneta/APPresident Donald Trump.last_img read more


first_imgMerit Travel Group ready for international growth with H.I.S. deal Posted by Tuesday, December 13, 2016 Share Travelweek Group center_img TORONTO — Merit Travel Group’s agreement with Japan-based H.I.S. Co. Ltd. will provide “enhanced scale and scope for continued leadership” with Merit founder Michael Merrithew overseeing international acquisition and growth strategy, according to the company. A spokesperson for Merit confirmed that Merit’s founders intend to maintain their ownership share for the long term and operate the business day-to-day.H.I.S. Co. Ltd., based in Japan, is a leading travel company with more than 300 retail locations in Japan and 200 branches in 130 cities around the world. H.I.S. began selling package tours in 1981 and received its general travel agency license in 1986.Under the agreement, H.I.S – Merit Travel will leverage the Merit brand, particularly in North America, to grow its travel business through strategic acquisitions around the world.“Merit has been a leader in the Canadian travel industry for more than 25 years, and in this time has developed a strong portfolio of brands focused on the wholesale and retail specialty leisure travel market, corporate travel management and loyalty program travel services,” said Merrithew. “The agreement with H.I.S. Travel provides our company with the resources required to compete and win in the global travel business, while extending the Merit Travel brand around the world.”More news:  Sunwing ready to launch Mazatlán-Quebec City direct this winterLed by founders Michael Merrithew and Louise de Grandpré, the Merit Travel Group team will continue to operate the business while benefitting from the global scale and scope offered by the H.I.S. partnership.Merit began operations in 1991 and grew to become one of the largest independent travel companies in Canada. More than 450 Merit travel professionals advise over 350,000 Canadian travellers every year. Merit Travel Group operates many specialty travel brands including Merit Travel, Travelcuts, MeritBiz, Merit Loyalty and Exclusive Tours. Tags: Merit Travel Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more