The Jawbone Up, what’s it good for? Enhancing one’s life!

The new ‘Up’ device from Jawbone. A stylish bracelet to make us all healthier, has serious pros and cons. Both the bracelet and the free included iPhone app.

Cons first, let’s get those out of the way:

It is not a precision work out tracking device, the pedometer function is not very accurate and it only knows foot steps. You really need to have the Up app on your iPhone and with you in the geo tracking mode to get much usable information.

It is not wireless, so you have to plug it into your iPhone’s audio jack port to move what data the ‘Up’ collects to the iPhone app… this is also listed as a ‘Pro’ below.

There seems to be a high level of manufacturing defects, several in the office have requests into Jawbone for return/exchange. Now what we have seen with our other Jawbone hardware, surprising.

The system is not designed to manage your dieting with calorie counting… another item that is a ‘Pro’ below.

That’s about it… it looks cool, fits well, and will actually change you life if you use it.

Now, to the ‘Pro’ items:

The quality sleep feature works very well to record your sleep via your movements. There are several devices on the market to report on your wake/sleep/deep sleep patterns, but they are generally troubled by a beg with multiple people in it. The ‘Up’ is on your wrist to it measures your sleep. Since there is no heart rate monitoring, it is truly watching your movements. I did have to learn that if you get up and walk the dog for a half hour in the middle of the night, the ‘Up’ thinks your awake for the day and stops recording. I just turn off the sleep mode, walk the dog, and turn the sleep mode back on when I get under the covers again. The ‘smart’ wake feature doesn’t watch for you to get the maximum ‘needed’ sleep. Instead, it has you set a half hour zone you want to be woken up, the band vibrates during that half hour when your partial awake is at it’s best time. This way your not jolted out of a deep sleep.

A simple feature that has your quality of life in it’s best interest is the vibrate when motionless for too long during the day. Set a length of time between moving and the Up will buzz you if you have been sitting at the keyboard too long. Get up, stretch, walk around…

The ‘Up’ has to be plugged into the iPhone audio jack to move the data the armband has collected into the iPhone’s app. While bluetooth would be nice, a constant connection would really put a strain on the armband’s battery. The action of removing the band and plugging it in is a commitment. It represents taking a part in being responsible for your health. That said, can you image a time in the future where the band is talking to the iPhone wirelessly. It would become one with your day, constantly reporting as you move through your day… sure hope there are good privacy settings when we get there.

The iPhone app isn’t laid out the way you may find easy to work with. Many things are several clicks deep. Others don’t perform quite as you would expect. Those are tunable items that Jawbone can get right as users report how the interact with the system.

One item within the iPhone app is the meals tracking that needs clarification. It isn’t a calorie counter where you look up your food items and add up your day’s intake. It is more about the action of logging how much you ate. It is fashionable thinking right now that loosing weight and better eating is about the action of recording what you ate. It isn’t about setting a limit to how many numbers add up, rather about recognizing what your eating by recording it. A item I liked is that a while after you eat, the iPhone app asks how you feel. Another physiological feature that helps you think about if you ate too much or the right thing.

So, to wrap up… the current Jawbone Up device is a stepping to future devices. It doesn’t really need to be ‘better’ right now to make a difference in your life. It isn’t a precision recording device, it is a lifestyle resetting device though. It will get more interactive in the future, but everything does… the next version is always better. Do you put your health on hold till then?