Jawbone, one of the leading makers of wearable fitness trackers, just made its own wristband obsolete.
The company, which previously said it was working on a new standalone Jawbone UP app, finally launched it on Sunday for iPhones. With the new app, Jawbone’s step-tracking features work using the phone alone, no rubber shackle necessary.
That’s great news for anyone interested in seeing how their steps stack up, but don’t like the feel of rubber on their skin. For Jawbone, it’s a curious move, since it basically negates the need for anyone to buy its own device.
That may seem counterintuitive, considering wearable gadgets have been picking up steam. But it may also be the savviest thing Jawbone could have done.
UP With Unshackled Step Tracking
Jawbone makes one of my favorite fitness trackers. That’s not so much for the hardware—donning a rubber bracelet isn’t exactly fabulously fashionable—but the software is easy to use and rather revealing about my current activity. Granted, its usefulness is pretty limited for hardcore athletes and workout fiends, and some people can go overboard on the “quantified fitness” trend. But for a fairly idle person, the activity data is illuminating.
For a digital fitness dabbler like me, there’s nothing like proof of my sedentary lifestyle to really get me off my butt and move around. Now more people will be able to experience that kind of motivation, thanks to a new wristband-free UP iPhone app.
The new app supports Apple’s HealthKit framework, the health and fitness data system that suffered a bungled launch with iOS 8, Apple’s software for mobile devices. (Things got worse last week when the iOS update that was supposed to fix HealthKit instead killed off cellular connections and other iPhone features.) Fortunately for everyone involved, that fiasco seems to be in the rearview mirror.
Customers used to syncing their UP and UP24 bands to the company’s existing UP app have no reason to fear just yet: That old, blue-hued app isn’t going anywhere. It’s simply joined by a new purple-themed app that connects to Apple’s Health application, which collects the actual step-tracking data using the iPhone’s sensors. Given that, the app will work for iPhones and iPod touches running iOS 8 or later, although it runs best on the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 5S.
New UP users just launch the app, grant permission for Jawbone to connect to Health, and log in (or register). If you previously had a Jawbone account, it will pull in your previous data. Then it’s all tracking systems go.
From here, the experience of the two apps are pretty similar. They both offer the same simple, attractive user interface, track step counts, allow users to share info with friends and enter meals using Jawbone’s robust nutritional database.
A primary difference, however, is that the existing (blue app) version also tracks when users fall asleep and wake up, as well as light sleep versus deep sleep. Users of the new (purple app) version must manually log their bedtimes and wake times.
Overall, though, the two icons, apps and interfaces look and behave so similarly, it’s easy to see how they might confuse people new to the Jawbone UP fold.
Note: The two different data sets are telling. I got up and moved around a little today, but I left my phone on my desk, so it didn’t track the movement. In other words, the app seems most suitable for people who are glued to their handsets at all times.
You might think that a leader in wearable tech, one that managed to gain mainstream appeal, would look at the growing fitness-tracking contenders and dig in its heels. But Jawbone seems to be ready to exit the hardware game, stage left.
It won’t abandon current Jawbone UP customers, though. If people want to stick with their physical wristbands and sync them to Jawbone’s system, they can still use the existing (blue) UP app. In fact, this version is due for an update (version 3.3), so it can tie into the HealthKit system as well. That should be available any day now, a Jawbone rep told ReadWrite.
The company also just dropped the price of its $150 UP24 band to $130.
The retail discount may be a push to keep the products alive—or a concerted effort to clear out its inventory. The latter seems more likely.
Jawbone plans to extend its app to other smartphones and wearable gadgets, so Android Wear devices, the Apple Watch, Pebble and even competitors like Fitbit can support it. Additionally, the company said, any products that connect to iOS 8’s Health app will be compatible with Jawbone’s system. To broaden its reach even further, the company plans to release an “open device-connectivity framework,” which will let gadget makers tie their devices directly to the UP system through Bluetooth or WiFi.
So instead of a one device-one system schema that pits it against the hordes of fitness trackers available now or on the horizon, Jawbone has broken out of that mold—and seems set to turn every wearable gadget out there into an UP fitness tracker.
Not a bad way of cloning yourself, and without all the fuss of putting out new hardware.
Of course, the company won’t want to alienate current customers and existing fans of its wristband. Beyond the quantified fitness or sleep data, the company may have broader plans for the product as well. Jawbone has been exploring and pursuing another rising niche—smart homes. Since the Jawbone UP24 device can track sleep, it can be used in a connected home environment to kick on your lights or heaters in the morning, when you wake up. The push button could also be used to trigger other actions.
But when it comes to the core fitness-tracking purpose, Jawbone seems to be making one thing clear: The band was just the beginning. Now it’s stepping out.
The new UP iPhone app description follows. New UP apps for Android, Windows Phone and Pebble will launch soon.
UP is a revolutionary system that guides you every step of the way to a better, healthier you. First, UP gets to know you—tracking your activity, diet and sleep. Next, it shows you how to make simple adjustments that, over time, add up to a whole new you. No UP or UP24 wristband required. Simply connect UP with Apple Health and it will track using your available steps and sleep data. If you have an iPhone 5s or higher, Apple Health will use your phone to track steps.
- UP/ UP24 wristband not required.
- Connect UP to Apple’s Health app to provide richer activity tracking and personalized insights.
- Get personalized insights to help you set & achieve your goals
- Log your food & drink & track nutritional info
- Track your physical activity and get more fit
- Log workouts, from yoga and hiking to tennis and dance
- Log your sleep
- Team up with friends in the app for encouragement and friendly competition
- Today I Will—UP suggests personalized goals. If you accept, UP encourages you along the way
- Streaks & Milestones—Get notifications that celebrate the progress you’re making
- Activity alerts—Receive move notifications when you want them.
- Share UP’s Insights via email, message, Facebook or Twitter
Supported languages: English, Spanish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese
GAIN INSIGHT INTO YOURSELF
UP’s Insight Engine will deliver personalized, actionable insights that guide you towards healthier choices as UP learns about you over time.
Studies show that simply tracking what you eat can help you lose weight. And whether you want to shed a few pounds or just eat healthier, tracking food is now even easier. New features include frequent meals, an enhanced calorie counter, and an expanded library of restaurant menus. There’s even a Food Score, so you can quickly see how healthy your food is.
UP is like a coach that gets to know you, then guides you to make simple decisions that lead to a more active life. With step tracking, workout logging and Insight Reports, UP is way more than a pedometer. Add friends to your team to cheer and be cheered.
Log your sleep and UP will intelligently analyzes your sleep, diet and exercise, then suggest simple adjustments that lead to more rest and happier days.
CONNECT TO YOUR FAVORITE DEVICES AND APPS
UP works with over 100 apps and devices, and counting. Whether you’re biking with Strava, working out with Wello or jogging with RunKeeper, track it all with UP for the most complete picture of your day and night.
Screenshots and photos by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite. Screen cap from YouTube video by disgaeahavok.