31
Mar
image

When Jawbone's UP wristband was released in late 2011, I was excited. Then I was disappointed. The motion-tracking band seemed like a perfect step into wearable tech at the time, but its companion app wasn't available for Android. Whether and why Jawbone didn't see fit to invest resources in developing for Android was a mystery, but now – thankfully – it's immaterial. Just over a week ago, Jawbone released an official UP app to the Google Play Store, and I wanted to be first in line to try it out with Jawbone's updated 2012 wristband. Having used the band (which, by the way, is available from Jawbone for around $130) and app for about a week now, I've learned several things that will hopefully help those on the fence in making a decision about the device.

wm_jawbone

The Wristband

The UP wristband itself seems odd at first. It's an oval shape that tapers at both ends (the middle is where the hardware action is). One end has a button and a couple of embedded LEDs, while the other has a 3.5mm plug with a stylish Jawbone-branded cap. The whole band is covered in a very Jawbone texture, and – while flexible – it holds its shape around the wrist pretty comfortably.

_DSC1547

wm__DSC1500 wm__DSC1503wm__DSC1506

Inside the band is a vibration motor and motion sensor, along with two LEDs with cutouts shaped like a sunburst(?) and a moon, for toggling between day mode and night mode with a simple press-and-hold action on the band's singular button.

What it Does

The band is made for 24/7 wear, and is definitely comfortable enough to accomplish that. What's more, it's not too conspicuous. During my week of testing, I only had two people ask me what it was, and that was only because it vibrated. Speaking of vibration, the band can do a lot more than its simplistic design would suggest. The UP, besides tracking your activity around the clock, can give you "idle alerts" when you've been sitting around too long (this time is determined by the user), it can wake you up by vibrating at the right time (within a specified range on either side of your target alarm time), and can even give you the optimal power nap by buzzing at just the right time (about 26 minutes according to Jawbone) after it detects you falling asleep. The app can do a few more things, but we'll discuss that a little later.

Most of the band's functionality is powered by MotionX technology, and the band is surprisingly adept in detecting your sleep/wake cycles (even detecting when you wake up during the night), as well as your overall activity levels, compared to ideal goals.

Does it Work?

So, does the wristband work as advertised? Since the band is simply recording data, most of its functionality is reliant on the app, the notable exception being the band's wake-up features. I found that the band's vibration was generally strong enough to wake me up, though it was ironically a slightly jarring experience coming out of a full night's slumber. Idle reminders on the other hand were great for reminding me when I needed to step away and get in some activity.

As far as charging goes, UP held to its "80 minute" charge time estimate (via included USB connector), but only lasted about eight days on battery instead of ten. Charging the device about once a week, however, is hardly taxing.

Wear and Tear

For a band that is built to be worn constantly, I was shocked by the wear and tear it picked up in just a week's time. At the end of the week, the band already showed scuffing on the side of one of its tapered ends, and the Jawbone-branded 3.5mm cap was worn. The damage wasn't detrimental to the band's functionality, but I will be interested to see how it fares as time goes on.

wm__DSC1542 wm__DSC1539

The App

While the UP's hardware is the basis for its functionality, the band would be pointless without an app to both gather and interpret data. Jawbone's UP app can actually communicate two ways with the band, gathering data and sending information regarding alarms, daily activity/sleep goals, etc.

image

The app – right now – is limited to a short list of Android devices including popular handsets like the Galaxy S III, Note II, Nexus 4, RAZR MAXX HD, and several others found here. That said, the app's Play Store listing showed my EVO LTE as compatible so I gave it a shot. The short version of the story is that the app was basically unusable on the EVO LTE. On the Galaxy S III however, it worked more consistently. While I can't confirm this, I suspect that the dysfunction is a matter of hardware variation (that's Jawbone's official stance), but for some reason when I loaded the app on a Nexus 10 out of curiosity, the band actually synced to the device about one out of five times. All of that having been said, let's move on to the app's actual functionality.

What it Does

Basically, the UP app syncs with your band for motion/sleep data and alarm preferences. Any functionality beyond that (like food or mood tracking) needs to be manually entered. Once you've connected your band and signed in to the app, you'll be greeted with an empty stats screen. Once you start using the band though, your sleep and activity graphs will start filling up. Usually, you'll just see sleep and activity as percentages of your goals. Below that is a handy stack of tips and a timeline of your recent activity. Tapping on either graph bar will bring up a handy summary of your activity or sleep with some really interesting breakdowns.

Screenshot_2013-03-27-21-09-47 Screenshot_2013-03-27-21-10-31 Screenshot_2013-03-31-00-34-19 Screenshot_2013-03-31-00-34-34

From the main screen, you can also log food and moods, which will come in handy for UP's various trend graphs and "Lifeline," all accessible through a sliding menu. Logging food at a high level is actually very easy – the app has access to a pre-built library of common foods, which makes adding meals fairly quick. Logging a workout is also easy – just choose the activity type, slide up or down to choose an intensity level from easy to "gut-buster" and enter a duration. The mood interface is a simple slider from arms-in-the-air happy to about-to-pass-out tired. Food and workout activity will show up right alongside your sleep and motion info on the front page.

Screenshot_2013-03-27-21-11-30 Screenshot_2013-03-31-00-31-05 Screenshot_2013-03-27-21-11-12 Screenshot_2013-03-31-00-35-06Screenshot_2013-03-31-00-56-00 Screenshot_2013-03-31-00-31-58 Screenshot_2013-03-31-00-31-34

Also in the slide-in menu are options for calibrating the band by using its built-in stopwatch mode. This essentially serves to make the app's data interpretation more accurate. Users can also communicate with "teams," finding and checking in on friends' progress by searching either Facebook or contacts for those who have "stepped UP." Unfortunately, no one in either category had stepped UP in my case.

In Short

To put it simply, the app does a lot. A whole lot. But it won't do a lot automatically. In my mind, the functionality offered by the app is great for those who want to maintain their data. In an ideal world, though, wearable technology would automate more of this. Food selections would automatically load average nutritional information, the band would do its own "calibration" by learning from you, and the tips the app offers would be better suited to your specific needs, rather than general tips.

After a Week

So, how were things going after a week? I can say with some certainty that my experience changed throughout my seven-day initial trial. I began the week eagerly exploring the UP app, trying out different information input options, setting alarms, etc. but ended the week only passively caring about the information I was getting. Perhaps this is because the full functionality of the band isn't completely relevant to my everyday interests, or because I don't have the patience to enter too much information by hand.

It's this writer's opinion that the UP is more or less a baby step toward truly powerful wearable tech. The wristband offers a lot of functionality, and actually looks pretty good, but even those who only want wearable tech to get in touch with their "quantified self" may get bored with the device, and tire of manually entering food, nutrition, and workout data. What it does it does well (if you're on a supported handset), and if you have a very active lifestyle and a fascination with quantifying your life, you may actually love it. But I was too distracted by the idea that something better would evolve from this concept to find a lot to convince me the band was worth $130.

If the UP sounds like something you'd like, you can get it from Jawbone here. Even if you don't like it, Jawbone has a generous return policy.

wm__DSC1507

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • CharlesVT

    Is there a reason why they can't design these to sync with our laptops upon plug in? I don't have a smartphone and would get this in a heartbeat if it worked with a program I just had to download on the computer.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I don't think there's any reason they CAN'T, but for whatever reason they won't. I would almost prefer a PC solution since syncing with mobile devices seems very unpredictable.

    • Neil

      Fitbit can sync with a computer

  • Imparus

    What technology does it use for syncing to your phone/tablet?

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I'm not sure what you mean. If you're asking about hardware, it connects via your phone's 3.5mm audio jack. As for the actual exchange of data, I'm not sure as to the intricacies of transferring data through 3.5mm.

      • Imparus

        Oh I thought it was transferring its data wireless to your phone or tablet with something like Bluetooth, nvm then ;)

  • Marc

    I got one the day the app was released for Android, although I had to get it at an Apple store since that's the only place you can get it for now... the "genius" that sold it to me shook his head when I took out my Note II.

    It's a great little gadget to keep you on track with your diet and makes exercise like a game, it motivates you.

    It would be cool if it could sync via Bluetooth or WiFi and if they would of added a couple more LED's on top for the time or notifications from your phone.

    Works flawlessly with my Note II though.

    • http://visionaforethought.wordpress.com/ Oflife

      I was going to say this too, namely that it is surprising they omitted the killer 'apps', namely a single line LCD to display the time (a basic iWatch) and of course, have it vibrate when your phone receives texts, emails, calendar alerts etc. These could flash up on the display. I have no interest in fitness monitoring, but would buy an Up tomorrow as a Pebble alternative if it could act as a Bluetooth notification device.

  • http://profiles.google.com/martin.cohen Martin Cohen

    WeightWatchers has a device for $40 that keeps track of your activity using an acceleramoter and links to your info on their site.

  • http://plus.psylink.net Psylink

    I was ready to buy one the day they announced the app was out. I read reviews on amazon and found a lot of people after about a month, had dead batteries, the replacement process took weeks and ultimately ended up getting more defective bracelets. If it was one or two reviews, I would give them that but there were a lot with the exact same issue. No way I'm dishing out $130 for something that's going to last a month and the "pedometer" skyrockets from fapping or any heavy arm/wrist action XD

    • Marc

      I think that is the first gen devices only.

      • dorabowers

        Natalie. I can see what your saying... Shirley`s posting is exceptional... last monday I got Mini Cooper from earning $4568 this - five weeks past and just over ten/k lass-month. no-doubt about it, this really is the most financialy rewarding I have ever had. I actually started three months/ago and pretty much straight away started to bring in minimum $85, per/hr. I work through this link, jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

  • simon hurtado

    I'm more interested in "amiigo", sadly it hasn't been released and I am kinda hyped, cannot wait the reviews.

  • KRS_Won

    Maybe one could use Bluestacks to see if it could sync with a computer?

    • P-O

      I really like this idea, anyone has tried yet ?

      • herbivoor

        Yup, didn't work.

  • irishrally

    I bought a new one off CL for $80, about the most I was willing to pay for it, from a student that worked at an Apple store. I like it, especially for monitoring my sleep and the vibrating smart alarm that will attempt to wake you up when you are out of a deep sleep. My only disappointment is the food tracking portion of the app. I find Myfitnesspal to be a much better/easier/faster way of logging your food. I can enter a whole days worth of food with exact nutritional info in myfitnesspal in 1-2 minutes. I've never actually accomplished this to my satisfaction with the Up app. Their database isn't as good and the app is cumbersome is this regard. I don't regret the $80 purchase and will continue to use UP with Myfitnesspal. It is recommended to put the Up band on your non-dominant arm to reduce "steps" from picking up a beer etc.

  • Dreamcasting

    The UP app is surprisingly crashless for me, though I'm on a GNex, so it could be why.

  • zymaze

    Having had to wait over 9 MONTHS for a refund (and many,many, emails, phone call and broken promises) on the original band when it quickly broke all I can do is warn anyone thinking of buy this version to take pause. If it breaks or stops working you are in for for a world of customer service hell.

  • Rose MacAllen

    I decided to wait after reading Jonas Luster's review ( http://jml.is/5437/jawbone-on-android-review ). He'd given it somewhat good marks on sleep tracking, which I am most interested in, but bad marks on food and walking. Sadly the UP is, right now, the only game in town if you're on Android, so I might break down anyways.

    • Coollead

      Or the Fitbits?

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.farrah.1 Robert Farrah

    Had my gen 2 UP band for almost 2 weeks. Loving the data and the motivation so far... :) Syncs perfectly with my HTC DNA.

  • Pär Dahlberg

    It would be great if you could include data exportability when you test these kinds of services. Some basic questions to ask for general data collecting apps/devices:
    * Can I export my data? I.e. can I get it out in a format and read it or import it in documents/other services?
    * Can I import data?
    * Is there an API?
    * If there is no open data export/import/API: Can I backup my data? Is the data synced to the cloud or is the backup just a file on my phone?

    • Janiter

      You can export all your data from the online interface. The data is served as a .csv with daily data. There is no official API as of now, but this is just a matter of time. Jawbone aquired two companies this year that will hopefully help rock this band even more.

      • Pär Dahlberg

        That's very good to hear! Wish all companies would have a data export policy.

  • Vince F

    Food/meal tracking in the app is a pain. Everything else is great.

  • tiscareni95

    Don't waste your money on this!!!! I had two malfunction within a week and dealing with customer service is a hassle. From reading other comments on several sites, they seem to have made another faulty device. If you research it the first generation was a total failure. You are better off tracking your food on free online sites and just exercising.

  • Bianca

    I just bought my UP, and since the Jawbone site said the app was compatible with Jellybean I didn't think to check the device. I have a fabulous Asus Padfone 2, and can't even download the app! Not compatible. So I wrote, and they said that I should downgrade my smartphone since the app only runs on Ice Cream sandwich! I mean... wtf?? Any ideas? return it? Upsetting!

  • Yuscielny Cazorla

    Can anyone help me... I can't sync my jawbone up band with my Xperi. Z1... any solution that could help me.. Please...

  • Domi

    Anyone tried Jawbone Up on DESIRE X?

Quantcast