Given the domains that I serve professionally as well as my own desire to better understand aspects of my own health, I decided to start “quantifying myself.” For the uninitiated, the Quantified Self movement involves a group of folks who share an interest in self-knowledge through self-tracking.
This post captures my initial experience using UP by Jawbone–first on iOS and then on Android (same bracelet). There are several other devices to consider; however, I chose UP given Jawbone’s BodyMedia acquisition and its platform direction.
Setup is a breeze and once you’re fully configured the UP mobile app cheerily greets your arrival.
Like most software types I know, I just “went for it” and didn’t first study the manual. Besides the little paper-based booklet in the box is vastly superseded by the extended user guide available online as a PDF here (English link).
Fortunately the UI is simple and inviting, and it’s worth exploring given its bias toward more gradual disclosure in context (i.e. drill-in for details, etc.).
If you’re missing out on something useful, the app may provide a timely nudge in the right direction. For example, since I didn’t bother with the manual, I wasn’t aware of the Lifeline view.
Becoming aware of Lifeline also encouraged my curiosity toward the Trends view.
If you want to know more detail about your movement of sleep that day, just tap the appropriate colored arrow bar (purple for sleep and orange for movement).
The consistent use of color in the mobile app helps develop user intuition.
Slight Mobile App Differences–Same Cloud Service
At the time I purchased my UP bracelet, I didn’t have a viable Android device according to Jawbone’s device compatibility page. So, I initially used my iPhone 3GS–really just an iPod Touch, since it’s no longer used as a cell phone. Thankfully I just updated my Android smartphone to a Samsung Galaxy S4; so, I have the UP mobile app on both devices. More importantly I confirmed firsthand that the mobile app talks to a cloud service after syncing with my UP bracelet.
Notice how the Android UX differs subtlety from the iOS UX…
Personally, I think that the Android UX could benefit from improved visual association where next-level pop-up panes are concerned (ala Twitter).
In general, the Android UI is a bit more spartan than the iOS UI. The iOS UI seems a bit more playful
For example, compared to the iOS sync experience (above), the Android sync experience narrowly focused on sync and doesn’t report summary information as a result of sync completion.
The Android sync experience also doesn’t feature the rotating sun and clouds animation.
However, both Android and iOS apps do feature sunburst graphics as a way to reinforce achievement.
User Experience Bugs (or Features?)
There are a few UX quirks with UP that I’ve experienced in my almost-a-month worth of daily use.
First, I encountered some behavior management in the app that didn’t progress as I expected.
While I appreciated the insight “card” encouraging me to beat my current average, once I accomplished that objective, UP didn’t refresh itself to recognize my accomplishment. Perhaps it thought that I wasn’t done being active…after 9pm. Regardless, I expected to at least have the app inform me that I actually took it up on its challenge of me. Since it did not, I may be less likely to drill into future insights, and that is unfortunate and avoidable.
The next sub-optimal experience to share involves my first attempt at what UP calls a Power Nap (see this specific alert above).
According to the app, it did try to wake me by vibrating the bracelet; however, I must have been tired since I didn’t wake and continued in deep sleep well beyond the time frame I entered in the app. Fortunately, I wasn’t late for anything critical, but, again, the fact that it didn’t effectively wake me as I directed UP may cause me to use that feature less in the future.
The last frustration to share was when I discovered how the activity editor deals with trimming activity duration. It appears to simply compress the data from the prior timeframe into the new timeframe, and this really makes no sense–given my use case.
Basically I realized about 10 minutes after walking our dog that I forgot to press the bracelet to mark the end of my timed activity. (I appreciate that the UP bracelet can automatically determine your transition from sleep to activity, without requiring you to manually transition the bracelet from sleep mode to activity mode.)
UP does allow you to edit your activity; so, I went into my walking data to trim off the time, bringing the end-of-activity marker in toward the last noticeable movement bar (representing a decent number of steps per minute). Upon shortening the duration, I expected to roughly the same number of steps and a marker as described (at 10:58am versus 11:06am); however, the new graph was shown with the same “lack of movement” gap before the new end-of-activity marker (at 10:58am). Distance and Steps were the same; Pace and Calories dropped.
Since UP keeps track of daily data as well as per activity data during each day, I expected UP to simply take whatever steps may have occurred in the truncated portion of the activity to apply them to the day (outside specific activities). I expected UP to reset the end-of-activity marker as I just described; however, for some reason (a bug?) it doesn’t…
More To Explore
I still have yet to leverage every feature in UP as it currently exists. For example, I have yet to use the diet features of UP–they seem to be too manual for me to give it my time.
I need to recruit other UP’ers to my Team. Flying solo currently…
I also need to visit the Apps experience in UP to give things like its integration with IFTTT a try. If I recall, I think that there may be a nice integration with RunKeeper, which I also have in my app arsenal. Just need to turn the integration on and lace up my running shoes…
If you, my reader, use UP or a similar device, I’d love to hear of your experience and how you’re getting the most from self-tracking. Thanks!
Update 6/17/2013: Further reading:
- Great IFTTT recipes for your Jawbone UP
- Part 1: Can A Fitness Tracker Really Change Your Life?
Part 2: My Fitbit Flex Hasn’t Changed My Life, But It’s Telling Me What’s Wrong
- From the post: “I’m not getting much in the way of suggestions. It would be great, for instance, if the Fitbit app on my iPhone let me know when I was spending an unhealthy amount of time sitting, perhaps with a nudging notification telling me to go take a walk. Instead, it just shows a depressing pie chart, making sure to highlight my time spent wasting away in a chair with the color gray.”
- Perhaps the author would appreciate the UP’s Idle Alert feature: If I’ve been sitting for too long at my desk, I’ve told UP to send a slight vibration on my wrist to gently nudge me toward movement. Certainly the visualization in UP is less drab than what he showed for Flex.
- According to a report released in January by the Pew Internet Project, 69 percent of Americans track some kind of health data, and one in five of those trackers use some form of technology.