Review: Jawbone Up

Some other cool features can be accessed from the app and programmed into your Up band, such as the alarm clock, which will wake you up to 20 minutes on the way out from sleep using the vibration motor, which is a better way of bringing you out of sleep than the sudden jolt of a loud alarming noise.

We tested this for a few days and loved it, as it was even better at waking us up than the alarm clock on our phone, which made us want to hurtle the thing across the room. In fact, it was easily one of the most effective alarm clocks we had ever used.

A power nap feature is here too, and like the vibrating alarm clock, it offers you a way to have a teeny tiny nap and not wake up three hours later by accident.

Tracking sleep is actually a cool feature, with the Up monitoring your muscle movement to show the type of sleep you’re engaged in: light or deep. You do have to switch into this mode to work, performed by pushing down on the button and seeing the sunlight symbol (that looks closer to a flower) change to a moon, otherwise it won’t work.

Once you’re tracking activities in both day and night, the Up app starts to show a useful display of who you are and what you do.

From there, you can share how you’re feeling using a simple happy face system that rates from the super happy pumped up “amazing” to the basic happy face of “good” and then back down to the going home and collapsing on the couch of “totally done,” with all of these words able to be changed by you.

You can also show everyone – and yourself – what you’re eating, either by searching through a database with words, snapping a picture and defining it yourself, or scanning a barcode. While not every product will be there, three of the four products we tested in the GadgetGuy kitchen were, in fact, in the system, which was better than we anticipated.

And then there are the insights, which are little tips produced by a team at Jawbone’s offices to help get you motivated. They might tell you how you’re going compared to the rest of the Jawbone community, or how far your little feet would have taken you in the real world, or that it can be a good idea to record your food.

If you decide you don’t want Jawbone to have all this data about you that the Up is recording, you can download it all and delete it from the system, though your Jawbone Up will pretty much be useless from this point. Still, it’s nice to know there’s an option for your data if you decide to leave.

Some aspects of the Jawbone Up do confuse us, however, and even though this is technically the second revision (the first was released in America last year), there are still things the Jawbone team needs to revise.

Device compatibility should be first on that list.

Currently, the Up works best with iOS devices – all of them, the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad – and select Android devices, using the 3.5mm headset jack on a smartphone (or iPad) to sync.

There’s no doubt that the iOS software is the most refined, and it seems to work best here with updates that always respond. Android is next, although the app won’t always upload your latest synchronised data, occasionally showing none of your updates until later. Not all Android devices work, though, and there is a specific list, although in fairness to Jawbone’s list, the delayed updates happened to some of the products on that list for our tests.

But one thing that surprises us is that Jawbone hasn’t made apps for any other platforms.

There’s no Windows Phone or BlackBerry apps, which given the third and fourth placement of these mobile platforms doesn’t totally surprise us, but there’s also no Windows or Mac desktop apps, and you’re essentially forced to own either an Android or iOS device (at the time of publishing) to use the Up.

It’s probably a fair call that most people have access to at least one of these, but it’s even more surprising that Jawbone provides a USB to 3.5mm converter to charge your Up from a computer, and yet doesn’t provide software to let you sync from the computer.

Call us crazy, but given that the charging mechanism is a computer, we’re a little perplexed why there’s no syncing app made for a computer, especially since Windows and Mac computers with USB ports are so common that pretty much everyone owns something that falls into one of these categories.

How you charge the Jawbone Up