3 Whiz-Bang Features That Make Jawbone's UP24 Its Best Fitness Band Yet

The device is more than just a novel tool for techies and health nuts. It could be at the heart of the connected home, enabling what product VP Travis Bogard calls "the Internet of me."

Imagine gradually waking from a long slumber to discover that, without even removing your blankets, the bedroom lights have begun turning on and the coffee maker in the kitchen has started brewing a fresh blend. It might sound futuristic but according to Jawbone product VP Travis Bogard the technology is already here.

Today, the San Francisco-based company introduced the UP24, the next generation of its popular UP fitness band. The wearable device, which wraps around your wrist to track your daily activity and sleep patterns in real time, is yet another entry to the already crowded quantified-self space, which includes competitors such as the Fitbit Flex and Nike FuelBand. While the UP24 solves many of its predecessor's pain points, from Jawbone's perspective, the larger significance of the device is that it's more than just a novel tool for techies and health nuts. Rather, the UP24 could be at the heart of the connected home, enabling what Bogard refers to as "the Internet of me."

Fewer Annoying Interactions (Finally)
The UP24 itself is a beautiful band. Designed by Yves Béhar, the device's licorice skin clutches your wrist snugly. The form factor is the same as before, but it feels more solid—the button on the device's end has been shaved down, for example—and features a wavy texture instead of the original herringbone pattern. As you go about your day, the UP24 ($149) silently tracks steps taken, calories burned, and hours active.

The biggest change is that UP24 now comes equipped with Bluetooth, allowing the wristband to wirelessly and seamlessly sync its data with your smartphone. Before, just finding out how many hours you slept was a huge hassle: Users needed to take off the band; remove a cap on the end of the UP; plug it into a smartphone via the headphone jack; open the UP app; sync the data; remove the device; re-cap and slip it back over the wrist. It sounds like a minor inconvenience but over time—having to go through this process multiple times per day if not dozens of times per week—that minor inconvenience became a serious deal breaker.

Now, though, Jawbone captures your data in real time—no more uncapping and plugging and re-capping and and so forth. Just open the UP app and the UP24 will immediately feed it your data.

Passive Updates for an Active Life
Even better, your smartphone will now start to collect your activity data passively in the background, enabling Jawbone to provide instant feedback automatically. "When I wake up, my first question is, How did I sleep? Now, right there on my [smartphone] home screen is the summary of last night's sleep—no need to plug UP in," Bogard says.

In the same way that Foursquare is now passively pushing restaurant and bar recommendations to your smartphone based on your location, Jawbone can now push health and wellness tips to your phone based on your activity. Throughout the day, the UP app will gently nudge you with tips, suggesting, based on your data, say, "drink more water" or "try to take more steps to meet your daily goal." A feature called "Today I Will" aims to keep you honest: If your goal is to get eight hours of sleep, the app might suggest a specific bed time. (The new UP app can also capture sleep data if you forget to enter sleep mode before going to bed.)

But the notifications aren't designed to be like a drill instructor or nagging parent making you feel guilty. "We're being smart about when we do this," Bogard says. "We'll nudge you at a moment that has most impact, and we spent a lot of time finding the boundary of what's achievable. If you're daily goal is 10,000 steps, and [it's very late at night] and you're only at 2,000, hitting you up with a notification would be annoying. Telling you you've failed is not useful—that's not the goal."

While not perfect, UP24 does remove a significant amount of friction from the experience and also doubles down on the device's screenless form factor. Unlike Jawbone's rivals Nike and Fitbit, which feature displays on their wristbands, Jawbone believes the iPhone is the major point of interaction, delivering at-a-glance updates. The lack of a display is still a problem: You can't get real-time updates unless you have your phone with you. Without it, the UP24 is mute. The Nike FuelBand's data is arguably more superficial, but having it displayed instantly on a color display makes it far more accessible and fun—and its point system makes it feel more like a game and less like a competition to burn calories.

To Bogard, however, the screen wasn't worth the potential costs to the form factor. "We've done all this while maintaing the form factor and not growing it," he says. "We think the size is inherently what makes this wearable."

It's the Internet of Me, Stupid
The trend of "the Internet of things" is here. We have Nest's thermostat that automatically adjusts our home energy consumption; we have Withings's scale that tweets our weight; and a whole host of Kickstarter-funded projects that are turning the sci-fi concept of the connected home into a reality. At the center, Bogard says, could be wearable devices, which more and more know the crucial details of our lives and are more and more on person 24/7.

Initially, I'm skeptical of Bogard's pitch. The smartphone (or perhaps smartwatches, if any company can ever make a decent one) is clearly more at the center of our lives, aware of our location and every movement. But because the UP24 speaks seamlessly with your smartphone, there are many promising applications for the device beyond fitness. "With the real-time aspect of UP24, you start to see a glimpse of where the world can go," Bogard says.

Because UP24 tracks your sleep patterns and REM cycles, it knows the perfect time for you to wake up feeling the most refreshed. What if the lights dimmed on to help you rise from sleep? With the UP platform, and with apps like IFTTT (If This Then That), it's now possible. Once the UP24 triggers its sleep alarm, it can tell another app on your iPhone to turn on the lights. Bogard envisions myriad applications. "What if when I get out of bed in the morning, my coffee maker turns on? Or if the act of putting my UP into sleep mode at night [automatically] makes sure the locks are locked on the front door?" he wonders. With tools like August, the smart lock also designed by Yves Béhar, these use cases are quickly becoming a reality.

"This 'Internet of things' trend starts to transition into the 'Internet of me,'" Bogard says. "It's all enabled by enabled by this [UP24 device] that has this great context around you and what you're doing at this moment."

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13 Comments

  • dave birney

    "Jawbone believes the iPhone is the major point of interaction"

    i really hope Jawbone are just being general here saying the "iPhone". It has ifttt integration now but it will never be as close to Android for Home Automation since it doesnt allow apps like Tasker. Theres only so much you can do with ifttt and, as far as i know, the internet has to be on for your phone to talk to the ifttt server, unless the iPhone ifttt app actually triggers things instead.

    anyway, id much rather the up24 talking to tasker to control my lights rather then having to talk to their servers and then back to the lights app on my phone.

  • Gillian

    For your first concern, Jawbone is simply saying iPhone because the updated UP app which allows the majority of these new features and interactions is not available on Android yet.

  • james

    A "huge hassle" trying to find out how many hours you slept. Simple fix, look at a clock before you go to bed and then do the same when you wake up and do a little math. Seriously people.

  • dave birney

    its not that simple. the time you look at the clock isnt the same as the time you fall asleep. it could be 5 minutes after, it could be half an hour after depending on whats on your mind. you could wake up after an hour then you might not be able to get back asleep for another 15 minutes. what if you wake up during the night? seriously dude stop being such a dork

  • james

    High school insults aside why would anyone really need to know exactly how much they slept? I'd say you can estimate within 30 mins accuracy and you know whether you've slept well or not. Your answer kinda proves my point....you always have a sense of how long you're awake. I genuinely don't think knowing down to the minute how long you slept for is useful, stressing about that kinda thing is possibly why you're not sleeping well in the first place.

  • Pedro Marques

    I've just purchased an UP24 to add to my fitness tracking and improve in areas where I'm lacking. I didn't think I lacked sleep. Until the very first night with the UP24. I woke up and was shocked that I had only slept 5 hours even though I was in bed for 8 hours. It explains why I've been needing a nap in the middle of the day lately. Turns out I spend way more time on my phone in bed than I thought and then I take a while to fall asleep. I wouldn't have figured this out without the UP24.

    Now my sleep is getting better because the UP24 is learning my habits and making suggestions such as an earlier bedtime, no caffeine, etc.

  • By observing something in detail, you affect it. I know that tracking my sleep using a fitbit helps me go to bed earlier, get more sleep.

  • zschmiez

    Yea, the syncing was never the issue. I've been hesitant to buy because of the performance reviews. Very spotty. If they solve (this), it can (then) move to bigger better things (that). Haha

  • Bryant Griner

    I hope they have. This is the best tracker available, largely due to how they leverage the data with their app and third party app integration, but I'm on my 3rd replacement band of UP v2.

    It seems like if you let the battery completely die, it'll permanently reduce the battery to a days charge life.

    I was hoping the Fuelband 2 would adopt all of the jawbone's greatness, coupled with their solid hardware. No luck.

  • cmchale

    Love my UP. Been using for over a year. The sync stuff never was an issue, just something to do, part of a routine and the design in terms of look is light years ahead of the thick, awkward looking Fuel Band. I'd rather not have a display screen. Checking my phone a couple of times a day is sufficient. My body is the best barometer of how I feel and do I need to move more, without getting 'Nike-obsessed' with things.

  • Noah

    This is to fastcodesign:
    Would you recommend the misfit shine or Jawbone up24? I have the misfit shine for 2 weeks now, so too late to return it, but I might sell it on eBay and get 100$ since it's only 2 weeks old... Or do you think the jawbone is great but no need to give away my misfit? I love the design of both...

  • Andy

    Sorry, after multiple Jawbone UP bands failing on me, and spending 7 months and constant chasing to get a refund from their "no quibble refund policy", I for one ain't going to be buying one, and I'd strongly recommend others don't bother either.