Up by Jawbone: Know Yourself Better

New year’s resolutions about improving your health are very popular, but most fall flat. People will start off strong by attending the gym and eating right, but unfortunately, it is easy to fall back into the same bad habits after just a few weeks. I did not want to become a statistic of giving up on being more healthy this new year, so I stared to look into how to track healthy habits.

Activity trackers have become more popular within recent months and definitely peaked my interest. Previously, the Jawbone Up band was released and failed. In fact, Jawbone allowed users to receive a full refund for the band, which is something unheard of in the technology market. Recently, Jawbone released a new version of their Up band with some app updates. They claim to have fixed the numerous problems and bricking that users were experiencing. Can the new Jawbone Up band stand up to the competition? Let’s dive in and find out.

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The Band

The most important aspect is the actual Jawbone Up band. The previous version of the band bricked for countless users and also was susceptible to water damage. The upgraded version seems very durable and I have not had any problems with bricking. I have showered with my band a few times without any problems, although I admit that I do not do it everyday. While showering in your band is fine, Jawbone does not recommend swimming with your Up band.

The band comes in three sizes including small, medium and large. Jawbone has the respective measurements on their website and how to measure your wrist to see the appropriate size. I chose the medium and it fits very well.

The Up band is a little bigger than I expected but stays out of the way throughout the day.

The Up band is a little bigger than I expected but stays out of the way throughout the day.

The band is thicker than I thought it would be, which was an initial concern since it does not fit under dress shirt sleeves very well. In the end, I gave up the fight and just wear it on the end of my wrist. It actually serves as a reminder to enter my food items when I eat them, so it is not a terrible to see it constantly. As for durability, my band has held up well over the past month, although the cap that covers the headphone plug has been losing its matte black covering leaving a shinier covering underneath. It is not a big deal to me but I did expect it to last longer. The battery does last nearly ten days, but it will take a couple of hours to charge so plan accordingly.

To sync the band, unplug the cap, plug it into the headphone jack of your iPhone and open the app. The sync will start automatically.

Activity Tracker

The Up band is an activity tracker. When the band is worn, it counts the number of steps that you take in a day. These steps will be shown in a graph grouped by the hour of the day.

The exercise summary and lifeline will show your steps throughout the day.

The exercise summary and lifeline will show your steps throughout the day.

As far as I can tell, the steps tracked throughout the day seem mostly accurate. I have never compared the results to another pedometer, but by looking at days in succession, my steps tracked seem accurate. For example, on busy days when I do not leave my desk a lot and did not go for a run, then I expect to see lower steps and for those days I did. Also, on days I do go for a run, my step goal is always easy to reach.

Activate the stopwatch features by pressing the button on the band then long pressing until the green sun appears and the band vibrates.

The next time you sync your band and have activated the stopwatch feature, an extra progress bar will display on your activity summary. This is the timed activity. The band will rate your intensity when the stopwatch timer is enabled. Also, a user can manually enter an activity by tapping on the + button. Several workouts are included to choose from and it is convenient if you forgot to activate your band’s stopwatch.

Sleep Tracker

The primary reason I chose the Jawbone Up band was the sleep tracking functionality. I had been using the Sleep Cycle app for a few months to track my sleep and it worked really well, but I was getting tired of having to keep my phone on the bed while sleeping.

The Up band has two modes, which are awake and sleep, indicated on the band by a sun or moon. To switch between these modes, just long press the button on the end of the band until you feel a vibration and the appropriate mode is displayed. Once the band is put into sleep mode it will start tracking your sleep. Several different characteristics are tracked including the time slept, light sleep, deep sleep, how long it took you to fall asleep and more.

Forget to put your band in sleep mode? No problem, you can manually enter sleep time and the band will still wake you up around your alarm time.

The smart alarm wakes you up in your light sleep phase for an easy wake up call.

The smart alarm wakes you up in your light sleep phase for an easy wake up call.

The Up band also features a smart alarm which will wake you up when you are in a light sleep close to your desired wake up time. To set a smart alarm, plug in your band and press the plus sign on the main screen of the app. Choose the desired time and set the repeat frequency. With the most recent update, you can now set up to four smart alarms, which is great for waking up at different times on different days. Previously, the app and band could only hold on smart alarm at a time. The addition of more alarms was a welcome feature.

In practice, I have really enjoyed have the smart alarm feature. When I was using the Sleep Cycle app I used this feature as well and it really helped me get out of the bed in the mornings. While my wake up time varies in the mornings now, it is easier to get right out of bed since I wake up in a light sleep.

Food Tracker

Probably the most difficult part to staying healthy is keeping track of everything you eat. The Up app makes it easy to track your food throughout the day by allowing input through barcodes on the food package, typing in the food name and searching, or manually entering in the nutrition information. The easiest way to get the food information into the app is through the bar code scanner. Most of my food has shown up when scanning this way. Only one instance has not shown up, but it was easy to enter the specific information.

The Up app uses colored indicators to let you know the amount of key ingredients you are taking in per day.

The Up app uses colored indicators to let you know the amount of key ingredients you are taking in per day.

For people who eat out a lot or maybe do not have access to the bar code, the library of food with already pre-entered data is huge. Every restaurant I have eaten at already has their information loaded into the app, although each of these restaurants has been a part of a national chain. Also under the scan, type and snap entry features are different categories with popular items. Some of these include drinks, sandwiches & soups, and meats, fish & beans. The only downside to selecting an item from the list is that you will have to manually add the nutritional information. The only thing you gain by selecting one of these items is a cool looking picture of the selected food.

Bringing It All Together

After you have been entering and tracking information for a few days, the Up band can bring everything together using trends, lifeline and the home screen. The home screen shows your daily progress on the three different areas of the app which are sleep, activity and nutrition.

The home screen gives a quick summary of your status and while syncing you will be shown a quick step count.

The home screen gives a quick summary of your status and while syncing you will be shown a quick step count.

Lifelines and trends are other ways to view your Up data and will be very beneficial after a fews days of data have been accumulated. The lifeline is a horizontal graph of your days which shows the steps and activity, sleep and meal times for the previous days. It is a unique view and can be interesting to look at, but I feel the real power is in the trend view.

Trends can provide more information about about related data in easy to read graphs.

Trends can provide more information about about related data in easy to read graphs.

Under the trend view, the user can select two different categories to compare and see progress. For example, I have total sleep vs number of steps by comparison to see if I can find a correlation between how many hours I sleep compared to how active I was that day. These views include every category available in the app, which means I can also choose a category such sodium consumed and compare it to active time to see if there is a correlation. There really is a lot of power in comparing and trying to find trends between energy levels and foods.

Conclusion

The reason I got the Up band was because I wanted to get more healthy and take care of myself better. I wanted to be able to track sleep, activity and monitor my eating to find correlation between my energy levels and moods. While I know eating two doughnuts for breakfast might make me miserable by mid-morning, being able to track and note the change may make it easier to resist them in the future.

The Up app has provided me with more information about my activity and food habits by keeping up with everything and making it easy to actually track these items. While I have not covered everything here, there are even more features including the ability to keep up friends, tracking moods, smart naps and idle alerts. While version one of the Up band seemed to be a dud, version two has been working well for me and is a nice supplement to my goal of living more healthy. You can pick up a Jawbone Up band at your local Apple Store or from Jawbone’s website.


Summary

The Up by Jawbone is a wearable activity and sleep tracker which syncs to the Up by Jawbone app.

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