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Why I returned my Up by Jawbone | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

Why I returned my Up by Jawbone

Up by Jawbone

Jawbone Up in the house

Up by Jawbone

I got really excited about Up by Jawbone as the first posts were published. My interests was because of it’s ability to ambiently track my walking habits without getting in my way. I was curious to see what that experience would be like and how that data would transfer to my iPhone. I wanted to test that interaction out. I also want to see how my behavior would change. I also wanted to experience it to see what new questions about fitness, measurement and interaction would pop into my head as the days passed. In the end I ended up returning the device.

The learning curve to figure out Up isn’t that difficult. What was difficult for me was to decide to track an activity or let things get tracked ambiently. I basically wanted to use the device to track how far I walked in a day. I walk my dog in the morning and walk to work from Midtown to Soho most days. I was kind of curious to see how far I walked and the number of calories I burned. The first failure was not having the ability to sort or filter my days to see when I lost time or made up time walking. To get the data off the bracelet I plugged it into my iPhone through the headphone jack. It seemed like there was almost a problem every time I tried syncing the device. I would have to unplug and replug and try to delete the cache over and over to get it to grab the data. Once the info was able to be displayed I really couldn’t do anything with it. Sharing and social functionality was pretty non existent.

The sleep functionality was really interesting. After setting my alarm via the app it would wake me up slightly early if I was in a light sleep by vibrating. I really liked that function. I would have liked to have the ability to set multiple alarms. Not necessairly to wake me up but alert me to alerts that I found necessary to get my attention. That was probably one of the more interesting experiences discovered. But unfortunately there was no way to alter the one time alarm.

I have an average wrist size. Using their measurement system suggested that I get the large version. The large felt a bit snug on my wrist but wasn’t too uncomfortable. What ultimately made me return my device was that the button to change modes didn’t work all the time. It wasn’t because the battery was dead but because it had a decent charge when I pugged it in to my iPhone. There were times when it missed my walk and I couldn’t set the sleep mode. The combination of not being able to do anything with the data, the buggy syncing and the ability to consistently collect data made it easy to return it.

Ultimately I really liked the concept of collecting information without having to do much at the time of it being on. Up hasn’t gone far enough with creating options for the person using the device to start slicing the data in ways to make it meaningful information. As a first release Up provides a glimpse into the potential of collecting ambient data. The next step is to work on the filtering of that information which is not going to be difficult to do with future app releases. The difficult thing will be to trust a device that doesn’t always collect the data in the first place.

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  • lee colleton

    The button is a bit funny. You have to do a short click followed by a long click to change workout modes. A short click by itself will display the current mode and a long click will change between sleeping and waking.

  • http://www.hammyhavoc.com Hammy Havoc

    I must admit, I was pretty excited for the Up, but it seems that it is the proof of concept for a technology that isn’t quite there yet as with the iPod Nano being used as a watch.

  • http://designnotes.info/ Michael Surtees

    That’s a decent analogy. I think it will need a couple rev’s for both Up and the Nano to serve their functionality better.

  • Newillmeister

    They should just make the hardware and open source the App.  It’s the app that really sucks.  I felt like I had gathered data, and now what?  There really wasn’t a whole lot to do with it after a week.  I had gathered enough data to figure out my patterns and then I didn’t need it anymore.  🙁

  • http://designnotes.info/ Michael Surtees

    Yeah, the button takes a bit to get used to. The issue I had with the button was that it stopped working entirely.

  • http://twitter.com/PeteAJ Peter Jacobson

    Couldn’t resist chiming in. I’ve had mine for a week or so and I’m still good with it. Feels comfortable and I like how it looks. I read something where someone ripped off the rubber and wanted to tied string around it like a friendship bracelet. This was not my impulse. Haven’t found the app buggy, but it does need work. The graph is pretty but it’s not great for comparing days. A way to compare data over time (weekly, monthly) could be a major part.. Works well with counting steps. The sleep tracking would be cool to see get more precise. All in all this kinda tech will look/work so much better in a couple of years, right?  

  • http://www.hammyhavoc.com Hammy Havoc

    I couldn’t agree more. Ideally I would like to see a wrist-worn Nano with the feature set of the Up; The idea of wearing multiple things on the wrist is a little cumbersome to me.

  • http://www.kasradesign.com Kasra Design

    I’m gonna buy one. Thanks for the review. 

  • Anonymous

    thanks for tha review

  • Steve Anderson

    After a month I figured it’s a good time to check back in and give you my latest opinion on the Jawbone Up, since a lot of you are asking. I had only used it for five days when I wrote my last review (below), and how I’ve been using it over the past weeks has definitely evolved.
    Apparently a lot of people are having trouble with the device. I’m on my second one (my first wouldn’t charge properly and eventually stopped working), but to be fair I’m on my third Fitbit as well. Since I’ve had the new one I’ve had no problems and it works perfectly (so does the latest Fitbit). I wonder if it’s working better because I stopped wearing it in the shower? Who knows.

    URL: http://www.addvalue.com.au

  • Steve Anderson

    I’ve heard a few people say they are having issues with the accuracy of tracking, but mine has consistently registered within a few hundreds steps of Fitbit, a difference that is virtually irrelevant. Someone in the comments here said their device counts steps when they drive their car, pushing the numbers very high. I don’t drive so can’t attest to this issue, but I would be pretty upset if it were true. I’ve also heard that a lot of people lose their plug caps, which hasn’t happened to me but would be annoying. To their credit, from what I understand Jawbone has been cool about replacing devices and caps for those with problems.
    Hardware issues aside I still think the Jawbone Up is really cool, and I absolutely love the hourly reminders to get off my ass and move around. I set these myself, so the nudges aren’t a prerequisite for using the device, but I think they are by far the best reason to get the Up. (Are you listening Fitbit?)

    URL: http://www.addvalue.com.au

  • Steve Anderson

    Back to the app, the social aspect was the part I was most excited about and it kills me how difficult it is to find friends on Up. Why is there no Facebook or Twitter integration? This is baffling. The search function for friends is ridiculously difficult to use, and I don’t think there is any way to discover other friends who are using the device if you don’t already know they’re on there. From what I understand this is a fairly simple feature to add and I don’t understand why it wasn’t built in at launch. I share Alexia’s dream of Up seamlessly integrating with social services, but for now it’s a major social FAIL.
    To summarize, I like the Up and still think it has tremendous potential. I still might choose it over Fitbit for that reason (a lot of these issues can be solved with software updates), as well as the buzz reminders. But if you aren’t the social butterfly I am (or if you happen to be an Android user) at this stage Fitbit is still an excellent alternative if you’re just looking to move more for health reasons.

    URL: http://www.addvalue.com.au