In terms of wearables Jawbone is the (not so) little company that did. Its Jawbone Up24 activity tracker has been a smash hit in wearable terms, managing to find its way on to the wrists of tech- and fitnesssavvy beautiful people in London and San Francisco (and therefore the entire world).
The UP2 replaces the almost ubiquitous UP24, and is the middle child of Jawbone’s current fitness family. It sits between the bargain basement Jawbone Up Move pendant and the UP3 (see page 38), Jawbone’s new flagship wristband.
There are two colour schemes for the UP2: grey and black. Both come with a textured metal plate appended to the top, but in the case of the UP2 that metal is black. The device itself comprises a thin rubber strap and that metal midsection. It’s a one-size-fits-all gadget, with an all-new metallic watch clasp. In our experience the clasp was initially incredibly fiddly, but then a welcome addition in that it allowed us to set the UP2 to be sufficiently tight as to live on the same wrist as my watch without the two clashing.
Like that activity tracker the UP2 is robust and splashproof. The metal plate does pick up scratches, but it is impossible to tell on the top side because of the textured finish. I wouldn’t take it swimming, but it survived the odd shower with no problems. And that is a good thing, because like the UP24 that rubbery strap will get sweaty and grubby when you workout.
The UP2 weighs in at a measly 25g and measures just 220x11.5x38.5mm. Jawbone accepts that some wrist sizes will be too big or too small, but claims that it will fit all wrists ranging from 140- to 190mm in diameter. We couldn’t find anyone in our office for whom it didn’t fit.
In terms of the user experience, the lack of physical buttons or a screen is both a boon and a pain. A pain because although you can switch between modes by tapping on top of the unit, we found this fiddly and counter intuitive. But a boon because it is really simple to refer to the all-new Jawbone UP on your smartphone. When you do that, you see more detail on a comfortable display. And it is much easier to control your activity tracker via the app than through a variety of taps on your wrist.
Overall though, the on-device user interface of the UP2 is poor. It is worse than the more simple single-button, two-LED UI of the UP24. But the price you pay for having a slim and stylish activity tracker is the absence of a screen.
Generally speaking we don’t like the kind of proprietary charging cables sported by the UP2, as it requires you to carry it around with you when you are in need of a charge. But given that it charges via USB, and quickly, we are prepared to give it a pass. The UP2 clips into the charger using a magnet, so you can do it in the dark.
Battery life is nothing out of the ordinary for this type of device. During testing, we achieved sevenor eight days (and nights) out of the UP2 and its Li-Po 38mAh battery.
The UP2 does not have a GPS capability. Instead, it uses an accelerometer to act as a pedometer, measuring your activity based on weight and height data you give it. Reader, this will never be as accurate a method as that of a device with onboard GPS. If you are training for a marathon, the UP2 is not the device for you. Rather, it is a gadget in the spirit of the original generation of activity trackers. It quantifies activity, so you can set a benchmark and challenge yourself to beat that benchmark. You set a target of steps and sleep time each day, and try to hit those targets. The ‘Coach’ in the app nags and prompts you,
praising you for a job well done. Tell the app what you eat, nudge it when you sleep, and you have yourself a good way of measuring and improving your lifestyle.
The UP2 is – in our experience – good at noticing when you exercise. If we went for a run or a walk it noticed. The bands lights came on, and the app asked us to confirm the duration of the exercise, and make a judgment on how strenuous it was. You can also tell it that you are exercising by going into the app and enabling the ‘Stopwatch’ feature. This is all well and good, but not entirely intuitive. With a device that is designed to quantify activity as it fits into your daily life, having to enable a feature before you head out is annoying.
Other good points include the ability to tell the app what your exercise was. Not restricted to the usual walk, run, cycle, the UP app will allow you to be as specific as selecting a ‘hike’ or even something called ‘Zumba’. The app is brightly coloured and easy to use. It looks like the existing Jawbone app, but is a new piece of software for use with the UP3 and the UP2. Your stats are laid out clearly, and targets are easy to set. We could live without the hints and tips, but it may be that a prompt from a virtual coach is what it takes to get you moving.
The UP2 is comfortable to wear, robust and well priced. Most importantly, the UP app builds on the success of its predecessor, and is a great way of quantifying and improving your health.