Wearable technology or wearables as they’re commonly known are wearable fashion devices that have grown in prominence recently thanks to products such as the Apple iWatch as well as our own insatiable appetite for personal data. Wearable devices often incorporate practical functions and can connect to the Internet of Things which further extends their use in our everyday lives.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been testing out the Jawbone UP24 and Withings Activite fitness trackers as well as the LG Android Wear watch to see what they’re like to live with every day.
LG Android Wear
Although it’s not technically a fitness tracker the LG G Watch works perfectly with the Google Fit app and uses sensors to detect activities such as walking, running or cycling. You can set simple daily goals and get an alert when you’ve reached them.
From a fitness perspective the watch is a little underwhelming although it can serve as a hub for all your Android notifications and sync with your Google account so you’ll never miss an email or a calendar event again.
I’ve had my Jawbone around 11 months now and I feel the signs of wear and tear are really starting to show. The end cap has broken on me several times and the vibrate alert function is unresponsive even after several resets.
It’s design is very minimal and doesn’t feel noticeable on your wrist which made it a must have for a few of my early lookbook shoots. The battery also lasts around 10-14 days before a short 30 minute recharge is needed.
The Withings Activite watch is the latest addition to the Style Division family and it’s elegant design won me over from day 1. Bluetooth setup took around 5 minutes and as long as the watch is near your phone it will update your sleep and fitness data in the background.
A 6 months battery life is a bonus although you cannot replace it yourself which is a bit of a pain. The watch also comes in a wide variety of colours and interchangeable straps so you’ll never be short of options.
The UP24 app is relatively easy to setup and it will be counting steps within minutes of you opening the box. The app allows you to set meal / sleep reminders which vibrate the tracker and jolt you into action. If your friends or family also have a Jawbone you can challenge them to duels as well as see historic data to see if you’re getting better over time. Hours slept has to be added manually every morning which is my only complaint.
Android Wear uses Google’s material design principles which separates important bits of information into ‘cards’ for you to read and dismiss at your own convenience.
The different swipes may take some getting used to but after the homepage is setup to your liking it’s much more convenient than taking a mobile out of your pocket.
Withings Health Mate is an app that links all your Withings products together and I’ve found it a joy to use. The user experience is seamless and the app updates itself in the background while you work. The addition of achievements gamifies the fitness experience and subtly encourages you to beat your best ‘score’. You can also find additional information by logging into your profile online and playing around with all your data.
Overall I feel that the Withings Activite Steel is the best of the three as it ticks all the right boxes in terms of design, functionality and price. An important aspect for me was the ability to swim with my fitness tracker which the other two do not provide although wearing the same watch day in, day out can get monotonous. The Jawbone UP24 is a great alternative although it does seem to be poorly made so you may see yourself replacing it every year. The LG Android Wear smartwatch has the best functionality although it needs to be charged nearly every night and looks very chunky on your wrist so for the best of both worlds I recommend the Withings Activite Steel.
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