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Review: Apple Watch Series 3 is a useful tool for the health-conscious, with diabetes management coming soon

David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Science & Technology News

The last time this happened, about a year ago, I had to stop at a neighbor's house for help. This time, I used the Apple Watch's cellular capability to call my wife, Dick Tracy style. I told her where I was and she arrived in short order with a box of Wheat Thins.

This lifeline function should be attractive to people not just with diabetes. but also any number of other chronic conditions, including heart disease, asthma or even Alzheimer's. It should similarly be of great interest to parents of kids with these conditions.

The Series 3 has all the fitness bells and whistles of similar sports gizmos. It tracks your heart rate in real time, which, even if you don't have cardiac issues, can offer surprising insights about your ticker's behavior while on the go and at rest. You can easily access the data through the iPhone's health app.

The health app provides solid info as well on the number of steps taken daily, distance covered, hours spent on your feet and how many flights of stairs you've climbed. This is good stuff from an overall wellness perspective.

I was less enthusiastic about a separate watch app that monitors your breathing to help reduce stress -- more management-by-machine than I'm comfortable with. I also didn't need a smartwatch quarterbacking my gym workouts.

On the other hand, I was very impressed with the reliability of the Bluetooth connection between the iPhone and the Apple Watch, which shouldn't be a surprise considering they share the same DNA.

The connection between my phone and my relatively cheap Pebble watch is pretty dodgy. Also, Dexcom hasn't come out with an official app for the Pebble, so I use watch faces hacked together by a collective of tech-savvy folk called Nightscout.

I'm not complaining. It's awesome that these diabetes-connected guys are providing this resource, and it's cool of both Dexcom and Pebble to allow free access to the glucose-reading watch faces.

But it's definitely an improvement not having to reintroduce my devices daily.

I wrote last week about how Johnson & Johnson is getting out of the insulin-pump business, steering about 90,000 users of its Animas pumps (including me) to rival maker Medtronic. Medtronic has its own sensor, which can be accessed by smartphone apps but isn't compatible with the Apple Watch.

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