Today, you can’t sync your Jawbone Up activity band with your Nike+ account. But technically speaking, there’s no reason you can’t. Because the fitness band has a new app called the Up Platform that isn’t so different from their old fitness app except in one massive way: It now enables two-way sharing between other apps.
Suck in weight information from your Withings scale. Kick out sleep patterns to Sleepio. It’s interoperability that’s extremely rare in the wearables space, enabling a bidirectional information flow that shares your data between apps (with permission). And to Jawbone, this openness is the gateway to a strategic advantage in the space.
"The reality is that you’re never going to have one app, or one thing, that’s the only way you look at [health and wellness]," says Travis Bogard, Jawbone’s VP of product management. "Especially in mobile, you have a limited screen size and therefore a limited amount of information you can display. So you’ll see different views in different applications, because they have a slightly different lens on the information."
Bogard gives the example of Runkeeper, which is unparalleled for real-time analysis during a run. But Runkeeper’s activity, sucked into the Up platform, can add color to the broader snapshot of your day and week. Are you running more slowly as of late? Interesting—how does that relate to your pasta consumption logged in Up? Or better still, how does that relate to the plate of Cajun fettuccine poppers you had at TGI Friday’s, according to last night’s Foursquare check-in?
"It allows a lot of stuff to be captured and seen in context without having to reenter it," Bogard says. "Your interaction with Up is almost passive."
Indeed, one of my own big criticisms of Up was its constant call for manual inputs (what I’m eating, what exercises I’m doing). By communicating with the specific snapshot apps we’re already using through our lives, Up can glean context and allow you to make more sense of your data.
As for that Nike+ integration, the Jawbone API is only available via a partnership portal, and it’s admittedly hard to imagine either company reaching out for a handshake truce. But Bogard insists that there’s no reason it couldn’t happen—and there’s no reason it would be bad for business. Or as he puts it: "We will ultimately win, not by having a walled garden or arbitrarily holding data back but creating the best experiences for users."