Review of the Jawbone Up
Back in July, I wrote about the Jawbone Up announcement at TED Global. I’ve been anxiously waiting for the device to launch for months, but after using it for 4 days, I have to say I was really underwhelmed and disappointed. I think the product could be really great. But as a first release, it just doesn’t delight in terms of form, feedback, and function.
The device itself is beautifully designed. It is small, sleek, and simple. But for practicality and every day usage, I had trouble wearing it every day. The wrist brand doesn’t sit flush with the skin. As a result, it makes it uncomfortable to type or use a mouse at length. As well, since the wrist brand is like a bracelet, I didn’t like wearing it while also wearing a watch or bracelets. For example, I recently got the Nike+ SportWatch GPS, and I can’t imagine wearing both devices at once. Other devices such as the FitBit are designed to be worn without being in sight. I can see the marketing benefit to having the device be visible – but I have to wonder if every day usage is limited by the JawboneUp’s bracelet design. I wish there was a way to wear it concealed.
The wrist band comes with a free mobile application that serves as the hub for your personal data tracking. The application is beautifully designed – engaging, entertaining, and simple. However, there were many times when I was dead ended and could not figure out how to get back to my dashboard. Also, what was missing for me was suggestions of how to improve my lifestyle. I love being able to track the data, but what’s missing is help interpreting it and understanding why I have certain habits in my life. For example, when I woke up in the morning, I loved being able to see how many hours of deep versus light sleep I had. However, it left me with questions: “Why did my deep sleep decrease since last night?” and “How can I improve my deep sleep?”. With time, I could see this element of content evolve into the product. But if the goal is to help people track and change their behavior, the product can’t just measure, it needs to help me interpret and adjust my behavior.
The wrist brand comes fully charged, which I really appreciated, and it also had a fairly decent battery life. However, after about 4 days, the battery died and upon charing the battery, the wrist band would not turn on again. After some research on Google and Twitter I confirmed that many other people were experiencing this problem. What was also extremely frustrating is that every single time I wanted to sync the device, I had to physically plug it into my phone. For a company that has so many bluetooth devices, I was really disappointed that it didn’t sync wirelessly. I’ve heard reports that it has to do with battery life. But this gap in function alone seems like a huge friction point and could limit people’s use of the mobile application – thereby limiting the use of the social aspect of the product.
Overall I really do wish I could recommend the Jawbone Up, but I think it needs more work before it could become mainstream and truly deliver on the concept of helping you change your behavior and live a healthier lifestyle. It definitely delivers on making people more aware of their habits. But, the product cannot be only about awareness. It needs to pair awareness with suggestions of positive actions that people can take to change their behaviors.