Your next generation smart wristband is a smartphone
Thinking about buying a next-generation smart wristband? Watching the market carefully for the next feature set, or the next morph in form factor, such as Huawei’s innovative wristband/Bluetooth headset combi? Well, that next-gen product may already be on the market, in the shape of your smartphone.
Announced this week, Apple’s latest enhancements to the as-yet-generally-unavailable Health app, promoted as part of the ongoing previews for the next version of its smartphone and tablet operating system, iOS8, show that the smart wristband itself may be an endangered species, threatened with extinction by the smartphone.
One of the major advantages that a smartband has over a phone for personal movement tracking is that it’s generally ubiquitous, strapped to your wrist 24×7 except during the weekly or so charging breaks, while a smartphone can only collect data while it’s actually in your hand, in your pocket, etc.
As noted previously, we think Apple is planning to counter this to an extent by collecting data from various sources around the body – such as Beats headphones, and Nike shoe inserts. But even without any other sensors, the iPhone does a fairly good job of tracking movement, as demonstrated by the Breeze app.
Samsung’s Gear Fit goes the other way, shrinking some smartphone functions into a wristband, and adding something that no smartphone is going to manage by itself: a heart rate monitor.
Meanwhile Misfit is trying to extend the appeal and visibility of its subtle Shine tracker by offering an edition in not-so-subtle “Coca-Cola red“. Shines are now retailing at under US $100, including the Coke version, making the tracker both an attractively-priced and attractively-designed alternative to the Jawbone and Fitbit bands.
In summary, if your Jawbone UP or Fitbit Flex is showing its age (my Flex has just survived its first year but I’m on my second tracker and fourth silicon band), then the range of choices should look different in time for the Christmas buying frenzy.