November 15, 2011
Folks, it’s been nine days since I began using the Jawbone UP, the celebrated iPhone accessory that is supposed to change the lives of those that use it. Today, I render my verdict on both the wristband and the free app. What Is The Jawbone UP As a review, the Jawbone UP is a $99 accessory that you wear on your wrist. Its purpose, according to the Jawbone website, is to “inspire you to live healthier.” To do so, the UP tracks your movement, sleep, and food intake 24/7. You then sync UP with the free Jawbone app. On The Wrist Physically, the UP is a wonderful device that fits nicely on the wrist. Plus, wearing it during a shower or while swimming at the local gym is no problem since the UP is water-resistant up to one meter. Jawbone claims the UP will work for up to 10 days without needing a charge. Since my UP has gone nine days without a charge, I’d say the claim is correct. Finally, as a bonus, the UP comes fully charged (or nearly so), which is a nice touch. Syncing The UP is worthless without the free UP app, which is available in the App Store. To sync the device with your iPhone, just plug it into the iPhone’s phone jack and select Sync within the app. While many on other sites have complained that syncing should be performed automatically through Bluetooth, this really wouldn’t be beneficial, as it would affect the iPhone’s battery life. And, if you're an iPhone 4S owner, you don’t need more battery issues! The UP App As a Version 1.0 release, the UP app is usable with an extraordinary GUI. In fact, how it tracks movements and sleep is fantastic. For example, tracking sleep is as simple as putting the wristband in sleep mode and, well, sleeping. In the morning, simply sync the wristband with your iPhone and you’ll instantly see how many hours were slept, deep vs. light sleep, awake time, and overall sleep quality. And yes, it works. Two nights ago, UP said I woke up (and walked around) for approximately three minutes at 3:13 a.m. Initially, I figured this wasn’t correct. Then I remembered I did wake up to check on my daughter sleeping in the other room. UP’s activity tracking is equally impressive, as it tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, pace, intensity level, active vs. inactive time, and GPS routes. While some members of the UP support forum are complaining that the app is more than generous with the number of steps it tracks, I found it was basically on the mark. My biggest beef (no pun intended) is with how UP tracks meals. Currently, this is performed in two steps. First, you take a picture of the food that you are eating. Next, two hours later, the app will ask you how you feel. Using this information, UP is supposed to "score" your meal, which in time, should help make you eat better. Unfortunately, at this time you cannot track things like snacks or water consumption. Plus, if you forget to add a meal, you’re out of luck as each meal is recorded at the exact time you enter it. For example, let’s say a meal is eaten at 9 a.m, but you forget to add it until 11 a.m. UP will record the time as 11 a.m., which could throw your entire day off. Hopefully, a future app update will provide more robust food intake options. As it stands now, this is the UP’s biggest weakness. Challenges Finally, there are UP Challenges. These challenges are posted by other UP users and are to be “joined” to make each of us more fit. Challenges, in my opinion, are perhaps UP’s most important feature and one that will only get better with time as more users begin using the service. Summary Overall, UP is impressive, even with its Version 1.0 limitations. Is it worth $99? That depends on the user. Anyone not truly committed to living a healthier lifestyle would probably be wise to bypass it and spend you money elsewhere. In addition, folks looking for an effective calorie counting solution aren't going to find it here, at least in its current form. Our advice – spend some time looking over the official UP website and visit Jawbone’s forum where most of your questions have likely already been asked and answered. Finally, check out Sue’s earlier review written soon after the UP's arrival last week. The free Jawbone app is available now in the App Store.