Worn Out on Wearables

by Francine on April 23, 2014

No wonder it’s rumored that Nike is getting out of the fitness hardware device business. I’d like to get out of it myself, but I’ve become addicted to the data that proves I’ve completed 10,000 steps a day and slept 8 hours, despite the fact that I don’t know what that means to my health or my longevity. To make sure that data is always available to me, I wear  more than one device at a time. I cannot tell you why I do this, but I know several people that do.

Perhaps its because none of the devices function dependably. I gave up the Fuel Band (too arcane in its measurements) and the Basis (too ugly and masculine) long ago. I lot a couple of Fitbits in the wash before I quit wearing them, and settled on the Jawbone and the Misfit shine.

But I’m on my fourth or fifth Jawbone, and even my second Jawbone Up. I’m on my second Shine. Either they decide not to count reliably, or they decide not to sync. They just quit counting steps every once in a while, as my Jawbone Up did two days ago. Bizarrely, it counted my first 7,105 steps and then chose to go to sleep, never completing the day with me, and losing the data. I wasted an hour trying to soft re-set it, never getting the signal that it had completed the reset. And it wouldn’t sync after I followed all the directions. Infuriated, I turned Runkeeper on for my walk yesterday, syncing it to my Pebble watch. However, the Pebble+Runkeeper solution was unsatisfying, because that app records miles, not steps. When I was running, I did count miles. As a walker, it’s steps.

And the Misfit? It kept chugging along counting steps, but it’s a bitch to sync; its automatic syncing functions don’t work well, and you have to remind it to sync by tapping it on the phone.

I know what you’re thinking: boy, she wastes  a lot of time on these devices! She does, and she hates it. But that’s how she knows wearables aren’t there yet. She also has Google Glass, but wouldn’t even TRY taking that on a walk yet. She might get mugged, and besides, there’s no accelerometer in it that I am aware of, so it would have to sync to a phone app. All this, plus the 40% return rate on the Galaxy Gear Fit,  should be a clue as to why Apple has not entered the wearables market just yet.

Apple is a company that is known for ease-of-use, customer delight, and reliability. There’s no chance it will risk its entire brand on a wearable device that would have a 40% return rate. I believe Apple is waiting for a game-changer, a device that would be truly useful to me (like maybe it could read my vital signs) in addition to being beautiful (unlike the Jawbone). And if Apple is finally on the verge of introducing the iWatch, as the rumors say, I bet they’re testing the hell out of it before putting it on the market.

Of course I will let you know:-)

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