Apple Fitness+ expanding to Middle East region

Apple’s fitness service is coming to the Middle East region later in 2021, giving Apple Watch users their own home-based personalized fitness program at their own pace.

Staying fit is all the rage, even as devices have incorporated features and sensors. While people saw fitness places closed off last year, Apple launched their own Fitness service for Apple Watch users. Later in 2021, the service will expand to UAE and Saudi Arabia.

With so many workouts available, you can pick your workouts as more will be added. New ones that will be added include Meditation and Pilates.

Meditation will be one of the newest workouts available on Apple Fitness+

So you’re wondering if there will be Arabic trainers. This is being handled with the existing workouts, accompanied with subtitles in addtional languages including Arabic. Maybe sometime down the road they’ll find suitable fitness talent to create bespoke videos for the Middle East region.

People who live in the UAE and Saudi Arabia can get it as part of the Apple One Premier tier. If you don’t want the other services, standalong price for is $9.99 (per month) or $79.99 (per year). You can also share it in the same household family via your Apple ID, all int eh same price whether it’s the standalone subscription or part of Apple One.

Fitness+ works with your Apple Watch Series 3 (or later)

If you want to train as a group, Group Workouts will roll out sometime later in the year with support for up to 32 people.

To start using it, you need to have the following minimum requirements: Apple Watch Series 3 or later with watchOS 7.2, and is available when paired with iPhone 6s or later with iOS 14.3. If you’re buying one or any of the newer models, you’ll get three months for free. Existing users can availa a one month trial.

Apple Pay now available to QNB and Dukhan Bank customers

Months since QNB rolled out Apple Pay support to merchants, the time has come for consumers to enjoy it. If you have a bank card from either QNB or Dukham Bank, you can now sign up to Apple Pay.

It’s been more than six months since QNB group brought Apple Pay to Qatar. The catch? It was only available to merchants for accepting payments.

Fast forward to the present, individual customers can now sign up to use Apple Pay. The first requirement is you’ve got to have a bank account either with QNB or Dukhan Bank.

Just make sure you have the prerequisite device(s) to start using it. Make sure it’s running the latest OS.

  • iPhone 6 or newer,
  • iPad Air 2 or newer,
  • and any supported Apple Watch

Both banks have instructions you need to follow, requiring you to use their respective mobile app for the initial authentication. The one main distinction between both banks – you can only add QNB’s credit cards, while Dukhan Bank allows you add both debit and credit cards. You can click on the respective bank’s link:

Once you’re up and running, then it’s a matter of using either Apple device at merchants that accept Apple Pay. Bear in mind that the central bank has put limits on per transaction basis. If you have SMS notifications setup, you’ll be notified just like when you use your debit/credit card.

While it’s been years since its launch, Qatar now joins UAE and Saudi Arabia as the third country in the Middle East with the consumer availability of Apple Pay.


Image credit: Twitter accounts of QNB and Dukhan Bank

Review: UGREEN Digital AV Adapter

Want to wirelessly share something to a bigger screen but don’t have an AirPlay nor Chromecast compatible device? The UGREEN Digital AV Adapter is your device-agnostic solution.

Overall: it’s quite a nifty accessory to have if you don’t have a new TV nor don’t want to be tethered to one wireless standard.

While new and upcoming TVs have been adding native support for either Apple AirPlay or Google Chromecast, what about those who don’t have a new TV? How else can you wirelessly mirror your mobile device or laptop’s display? That’s where UGREEN tackles this problem with their Digital AV Adapter (a.k.a Wireless Display Dongle).

Does that mean I decided to put it through its paces

Easy setup out of the box

The dongle/adapter is quite small that it fits into the palm of your hand. It’s also quite portable and you can easily hide it away from view to declutter your work area.

Packaging comes with the essentials: the actual dongle w/ HDMI output cable (0.5m), micro USB power cable (1m), and the brief manual. Initial setup requires you to connect to the dongle via Wi-Fi to configure it (it even shows you the instructions on TV when connecting it via HDMI). The process is meant to have it connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network (also lets you upgrade its firmware).

As with any product, you would definitely want to know the specs of this accessory.

Wireless frequency2.4 GHz / 5GHz
Wireless protocols802.11a/b/g/n/ac
CPUARM Cortex-A7 dual core 1.2 GHz
Resolution4K @ 30Hz
FullHD (1920x1080) @ 60Hz
HD (1280x720px) @ 60Hz
Video format support.mp4, .avi, .wmv, .mkv, .mov, .rm and .rmvb
Operating current300-400mA
Weight300g

However, the instructions could use better wording to explain the steps (English may not be the strongest point for a Chinese company, but things can be lost in translation). Any average person who’s familiar with doing software/hardware setups should easily be up and running.

Setup instructions shown when connecting the dongle

Both AirPlay and Chromecast

Most TVs in the market integrate either AirPlay or Chromecast exclusively, which means you’d need either an Apple or Android-powered device to use it.

What about someone who visits your home and wants to mirror something but uses a standard that’s not compatible (e.g. you use iOS for AirPlay but the guest has an Android device that works using Chromecast)? The UGREEN Digital AV Adapter helps to solve that issue.

Note that it does require using one of your HDMI ports, so that’s a minor trade-off if you don’t have plenty of HDMI ports on your TV. Also, it needs power via the micro USB port; accompanying long cable should help you connect it either using a USB power adapter, or even to your console (which would require you to keep it powered).

Putting the UGREEN Digital AV Adapter in action

Since I had linked the UGREEN Digital AV Adapter to my home Wi-Fi network, it immediately showed up across my devices. I decided to put it to use on the following: iPad Pro (2020), iPhone 11 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, and 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Connecting either my iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 FE devices proved to be easy. The UGREEN dongle showed up within seconds and then a tap to select it. Within few seconds, my smartphone display was mirrored onto the TV.

Watching videos from streaming apps and even playing music worked without issues. When it comes to gaming, it can be a mixed bag cause it depends on the amount of visual fidelity of the game itself.

Best part is that your mobile device’s orientation easily mirrors itself on the TV, so it’s best you use your smartphone/tablet in landscape mode to fill up the entire TV display area.

If you have any MacBook, it connects in the same way just like the iPhone/iPad. You can choose to mirror or have your TV serve as an extended display.

Verdict

After putting it through its paces (playing videos, games, and even mirroring the display), a dongle like this definitely helps to eliminate cable clutter regardless of your setup. Whether it’s at a business meeting or even at home, you can rest assured that

Pros

Small and portable

Easy to plugin and setup

Works with multitude of devices using either AirPlay or Chromecast

Easily switch between wireless bands with a simple button press based on your device

Cons

Instructions could use better wording in English, especially for first-time users

Display unit needs to have extra HDMI port

Verdict: Recommended

The UGREEN Digital AV Adapter is officially available at Store974 (Qatar) and Sharaf DG (UAE).

PlayStation 5 owners can redeem six months Apple TV+ subscription

PlayStation 5 console owners in the Middle East and India can enjoy six months of Apple TV+ for free, with the redemption offer valid until July 2022.

While Sony can easily claim sales success on the PlayStation 5, it’s still facing supply constraints with ever-growing demand since its release in November 2020. Looking to help smoothen things out, PlayStation is now offering a six months free trial of Apple TV+.

As Sony likes to say it: “The best of gaming. The best of entertainment. Together like never before.”

Claim on your PlayStation 5

Redeeming this offer is quite easy but you need to bear in mind the following: redemption can only be done via all PlayStation 5 models (Standard and Digital Edition). You have to download and open the Apple TV app from the Media tab on your console and sign in with your Apple ID.

The offer is only available to new and existing subscribers. This offer will not work if you already have an Apple One subscription. Offer is only valid in the following countries:

Best part is that you have until 22nd July 2022 to enjoy this offer, which gives Sony ample time to ramp up production of PlayStation 5 units.

Apple Music Releases Playlists Showing Popular Songs by Country And City

With the release of the latest update to iOS/iPadOS/macOS, Apple has rolled out Apple Music playlists showcasing Top 25 songs by city and Top 100 songs by country.

It’s been a few days since Apple released the latest iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and macOS Big Sur 11.3. While most of the attention has been on the privacy-tacking features, there’s been some additions for Apple Music as they look to ramp up their feature set to compete against Spotify.

Known as “City Charts”, the new playlists lets Apple Music listeners see the top 25 most played songs in over 100 cities around the world. This also includes a few cities from the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent region, and the playlists are updated daily:

The feature is now live on the Apple Music app on the iPhone, iPad, as well as the Mac (as long as you are running the latest version of the respective OS). Non-subscribers to Apple Music can visit the website and browse the selection of popular songs across available cities. Expect more cities to be added in the future.

What’s Trending on Country-level on Apple Music?

If you can’t see your city in the City Charts, you can get a more macro view of the most popular songs with the Daily Top 100 by country.

Within the MENA and Indian Subcontinent region, these are the countries which you can see the playlists (clicking on each link will take you to the respective one):

The country-level Daily Top 100 playlists refreshes daily, so you can easily see which music is grabbing listeners’ attention.

Apple celebrates Ramadan across the Middle East

Apple is celebrating this year’s Ramadan with unique content and special offerings, extending it beyond the App Store to their other services including Music and Podcasts.

Last year, Apple embraced Ramadan with a curated selection of activities for the Middle East region. This year’s Ramadan activities looks to be goign even further – Apple is extending it to more of their services including Music and Podcasts.

App Store Ramadan highlights

Like last year, the App Store is featuring original stories and collections on the Today tab during the month of Ramadan highlighting unique content including apps and games with special offers. 

Apps featured on the Today tab have shown a spike in new downloads or in-app activity, which also benefits in terms of app discoverability.

Apps spanning different categories will be offering exclusive in-app Ramadan offers and themed elements.

Food & Drink:

Entertainment: 

Gaming:  

Ramadan on Apple Music

To help you reconnect with nostalgia and legacy content, Apple Music is featuring “Fawazir Ramadan”, the Pan Arab daily hit show with famous celebrities Sharihan and Nelly, exclusively on the platform. The live recordings of the show are now digitized and released as albums for the first time to celebrate the golden age in Egypt. 

The Islamic Music Category is hosting a selection of new dynamic playlists with the overarching theme “Inspired by Faith”, including Qawwali, Anasheed, Dastgah, Na’at.

Ramadan on Apple Podcasts

On Apple Podcasts this Ramadan, there is a super-room dedicated to helping you find the perfect podcast.  


Everything from apps to podcasts and music are being highlighted by Apple, wherever you are based in the Middle East. You’ll be able to experience them on your iPhone, iPad or Mac. Make sure to keep an eye out for special offers and promotions throughout the month.

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