Behold, The New Jawbone UP2 Activity Tracker
By now, you surely know the name Jawbone. The company is an industry leader in the ever-burgeoning fitness tracker field, and they’ve got several different tracker models that have all been quite popular.
For the past year or so, Jawbone’s UP24 tracker has been a user favourite and tech insider darling. First available to the public in November of 2013, the UP24 is cool looking, lightweight, and able to track most of your fitness activity.
However, like all great products, it was due to be updated.
Recently, Jawbone unveiled its newest tracker, the UP2. Priced at £89.99, this is a mid-range activity and sleep tracker positioned to replace the now-discontinued UP24. And, if sales of Jawbone’s other products are any indication, the UP2 is destined to become just as popular as its predecessor. What exactly does the UP2 do? Let’s take a look.
You Move, It Tracks
First and foremost, the UP2 is a fitness tracker, and it covers all the bases. It keeps tabs on your steps taken, distance travelled, calories burned, and minutes that you’re active.
While it won’t do any advanced tracking like monitor your heart rate or skin temperature for more serious training, it’s a great little device for the average person who is looking to keep active throughout the day and understand how movement corresponds to overall health.
In addition to tracking activity, the UP2 also tracks sleep: how long you’re out and how soundly you snooze. However, with this device, you’ve got to turn on sleep mode; it doesn’t activate automatically like some other trackers. Forget to change modes, and you lose that night’s data.
Feel the Buzzes
If the Jawbone UP2 wants to get your attention, it does so with a vibration. It’s got a smart alarm, which wakes you up within a given range of time (that you set) and chooses a light point in your sleep cycle so you wake up refreshed rather than frazzled.
A gentle buzz on the wrist, rather than a loud audible alarm, seems to be the preferred way to get up for many tracker wearers, as many trackers on the market today offer a similar feature.
You can also set up reminder buzzes, so you know that it’s bedtime or time to take your medication. Plus the UP2 can give you an idle alert buzz if you’ve been sitting for too long; it’s a nice little encouragement to get up and move!
The UP2 syncs wirelessly via BlueTooth LE with most Android and iOS devices. It pairs with the Jawbone mobile app (more on this in a minute), but it also works with a number of other popular apps. If you already use a tracking app like Strava or My Fitness Pal, for example, the UP2 can send your activity data to them.
Plus, the UP2 works with the Nest app. This may seem like an odd pairing at first, but consider the potential here. When you put your tracker in sleep mode, for example, the Nest app can automatically lower the temperature in your house.
Wake up to your Jawbone silent smart alarm, and the temperature rises. It’s actually a really cool way to control the temperature of your smart home.
the UP2 works with the Nest app
The Jawbone Mobile App
Recently updated to work with Jawbone’s latest devices, the company’s mobile app is easy to use and boasts a colourful and clean design. Again, it’s available for both Android and iOS, and it provides an incredibly good analysis of your activity and sleep numbers, including charts, graphs, and all sorts of visuals.
In fact, many fitness experts like the Jawbone mobile app better than the Fitbit app.
Jawbone’s mobile app has some other useful features. You can enter your food and drink consumption to track calories, and it can also track your mood. There’s a social component for encouragement and competition, and it can connect to Facebook and Twitter to share your activity details with your wider network.
Jawbone’s smart coaching is helpful for setting and reaching new fitness goals: it makes recommendations based on your activity and sleep so you can improve, and it also offers feedback on how well you’re doing. There’s also a stop watch feature. The UP2 may be a nice piece of hardware, but Jawbone’s mobile app is a truly outstanding and complete piece of software to go with it, worthy to be a top fitness app.
To stay juiced, the UP2 has a lithium ion battery that lasts for about a week before it needs a re-up. It comes with a super convenient magnetic USB charger, much like the new Apple Watch. Instead of plugging in the device, the charger gloms onto the inside of the tracker and can then be plugged into any powered USB port.
For sensing movement and sleep, the UP2 uses a tri-axis accelerometer. Without getting overly technical about it, you should know that this type of sensor is quite accurate and very standard for a fitness tracker of this calibre.
Looks Good, Feels Good
Jawbone is known for making trackers that look unassuming, and the UP2 is no exception. Thanks to the device’s slim profile and its lack of display, it’s hard to tell that this is a piece of wearable technology.
In fact, it looks like a simple bracelet. And, it looks neither particularly masculine nor feminine, neither polished nor sporty, so it’s truly good for anyone to wear in just about any environment.
To discern what mode you’re in, there are two discrete, tiny icons that light up when you give the unit a double tap. An orange person indicates activity mode, and a blue moon means sleep mode. A third icon — a white hand — lights up when there are alerts.
All of these lights are almost always off; you need to bring up the mode lights, and the notification light illuminates only when your attention is required.
As for fit and wearability, the outside of the UP2 is made of soft silicone, so it’s very comfortable on your wrist. After a while, you’ll probably forget it’s there. The band is resizable, so you can make it the right size for your wrist, and it clasps shut. It’s currently available in black or light grey.
Improvements On Its Predecessor
The UP2 has an industrial-like design that’s very similar to that of the Jawbone UP24. However, it’s 45% smaller than its already low-profile predecessor. Additionally, the uneven ends that did not match up on the UP24 was an aesthetic that bothered some users; this has been remedied on the UP2, as the excess band length tucks under itself and clasps.
Jawbone claims that the UP2 is more waterproof as well. The UP24 could handle sweat or a few splashes, but according to Jawbone, you should be able to safely wear the UP2 in the shower. (Some actual customer reviews take issue with this claim.) However, one category in which UP2 doesn’t quite match up to the UP24 is battery life. The UP2’s seven day power is decent, but the UP24 could go at least ten days with regular use. All this means, though, is that you’ll need to charge your UP2 a bit more frequently.
What the UP2 Won’t Do
While the UP2 is a well appointed tracker, it doesn’t do everything. For starters, there’s no continuous heart monitoring — you’ll need to step up to the more high end and more expensive (at £129.99) UP3 when it’s released for that feature. This means that the UP2’s sleep tracking abilities are somewhat limited, as there’s no heart rate data to factor.
And, much to the chagrin of individuals who use their Jawbone for serious athletic training, the UP2 won’t even pair with an external chest strap heart rate monitor. (Though, to be fair, people who are interested in full heart rate data and zone or interval training will probably go for a more feature-rich, and therefore expensive, fitness tracker or running watch.)
Finally, the UP2 is not a GPS-enabled device, so while it will give you some information about your distance travelled, it won’t be able to track your route or provide data that’s as accurate as a GPS-enabled tracker.
there is no continuous heart monitoring
On paper, the UP2 sounds like a truly fantastic device. In practice, though, it does have a few glitches and things that just don’t work as properly as they probably should. For example, setting modes is surprisingly frustrating, as the wristlet doesn’t always respond to tapping like it should.
There’s also some contention with the accuracy of the UP2’s sleep tracing, as well as with its distance tracking. However, since these gripes are from a highly vocal group of UP2 users, it’s hard to tell if most owners agree or if these individuals are the only ones having trouble with this device.
And, hopefully, these are minor glitches that can all be resolved with a firmware upgrade.
The clasp of the UP2 takes some getting used to. In fact, the device is tricky to put on at first. It takes some getting used to, and if you don’t secure it property, your UP2 could fall off — an expensive mistake, to be sure!
It’s available only in two colours — black and light grey — so there aren’t a lot of options in the looks department. Finally, there’s no Jawbone web app, though this is true for all of the company’s trackers; there’s only the mobile app.
This is not an issue for most users, though for Jawbone wearers who don’t own a their own smartphone, it could be a problem.
Why Buy the UP2?
As we’ve pointed out, there are a lot of reasons why spending £89.99 on a Jawbone UP2 is a solid decision. For the price, it’s a very well-rounded tracker with lots of features. And again, the app behind the device is really terrific: it’s got coaching, challenges, and data that’s easy to read and easy to analyse. If you’re looking for a mid-range fitness tracker, going with a trusted brand like Jawbone is always a smart move.
The most comparable tracker out there, both in terms of functionality and price, is the Fitbit Flex, and it’s been on the market about as long as the UP24. The UP2 is a much newer device than this competitor.
going with a trusted brand like Jawbone is always a smart move.
However, if you really want the latest and greatest (and you’re willing to pay for it), you might want to wait for the UP3, which has continuous heart rate monitoring capabilities, or the UP4, which offers all the benefits of the UP3 plus near field communication payments via American Express.
If you want a great tracker and you want it now, though, the UP2 is a great choice.