Jawbone, an early mover in the wearable fitness tracker category, today announced two new products and shared updates on a third. The UP2 replaces the UP24, the UP3 adds cardiovascular and temperature tracking and the UP4 layers in contactless payments through an unexpected American Express partnership. Though many anticipate the first deliveries of Apple Watch later this month, the UP (and similar devices) remains relevant for its seven-day battery life and ability to track sleep data. Plus Jawbone will play nicely with Apple Watch as it already does with Health Kit, both sharing and utilizing data within the iOS app ecosystem.
As we’ve found over the last couple of days, the latest generation of UP bands is significantly more comfortable to wear. The first versions—UP and UP24—had bulk around the sides and underside which some people found distracting; the new versions have concentrated most of the electronic parts to the top of the device affording a slimmer band. Those electronics have also been miniaturized, reducing the overall volume of the splash-proof device. And though the heart rate and skin temperature sensors in the UP3 are spread around the inside of band, we didn’t find them noticeable.
The addition of heart rate monitoring sensors on the UP3 opens a door to many new aspects of health tracking. Workouts can automatically be recognized and logged. Activity and diet habits can now be correlated to your resting heart rate, which in turn give a measure of overall fitness. Where we get most excited, though, is the implications for sleep tracking. Heart rate data combined with movement tracking can differentiate REM sleep from deep sleep, a split not before trackable by UP. Deep sleep is what we need to regenerate whereas REM sleep is what we need to be smart and creative. Gaining insight and the opportunity to improve both of these will surely prove invaluable.
Though announced many moons ago, the UP3 is finally shipping, with the first customers receiving their bands next week. Given the advances in design and technology, combined with the sordid history of the original UP, it’s no wonder Jawbone took their time to get this one out the door. It’s available in black or silver for $180. The UP4 is still a few months out and will cost $200, but will look and feel like an UP3. The difference is an added NFC chip to support secure contactless payments with a paired American Express card.
All of the new UP devices will share a common charging format. Small contacts on the underside of the band magnetically mount to a short USB dongle. The advantage here is twofold: fewer potential entry points for moisture and no more charging cap to remove and lose.
The UP2 shares the same band design as the UP3. Both devices feature LEDs hidden under the shell of the device that indicated modes which are changed by tapping on the surface. Also noteworthy is that the capacitive touch interface removes the need for a physical button to change modes, in turn simplifying the product. This simplification will hopefully further ensure device reliability. The UP2 will retail for $100 and is available now at Amazon.
Images by Josh Rubin, screenshots courtesy of Jawbone