Hands On: The New Jawbone UP

The reborn wearable tracker is a significant improvement over the original

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Initially released this time last year, the Jawbone UP, designed by Yves Behar, made its debut as a holistic life tracker worn on the wrist 24/7. As you may remember, the bendable band syncs with an iPhone app to record bodily information such as daily activity, sleep and diet. You might also remember the original device was plagued with issues ranging from general usability to total hardware failure. Now after a significant amount of research Jawbone has released a comprehensive update. Along with a hugely improved iPhone app, the externally identical UP’s hardware and software has been redesigned, tested and reworked again—through 28 new manufacturing processes and nearly three million hours of testing, Jawbone claims—to make the new and improved device more durable, more waterproof and more functional. I’ve been wearing an UP for the last week to give it a fair shake and am quite pleased with the new version.

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While much of the hype once surrounding Jawbone’s UP has shifted toward the Nike Fuel Band, the difference between the two wearable activity trackers is quite significant. The Fuel Band is undoubtably about sport (through competition and awarding points), while the UP is about tracking your essential activities—eating, sleeping and moods in addition to general movement—to encourage a better holistic life. If you’re more concerned with assessing your sleep habits and caloric intake and acting upon them to improve your overall wellness, then the UP might be for you.

During daytime mode the motion sensor in the UP detects and tracks all types of movements and non-movements. In addition to giving you rich data about your activity patterns it can also be set to alert you when you’ve been idle too long—a feature I’ve been using to remind me to get up and stretch if working at my desk for too long. In nighttime mode the UP tracks more subtle movements to report on your quality of sleep. The vibrating alarm clock is a favorite feature because it wakes you close to the time set, but only when you’re in a light sleep so that you start the day more rested.

The UP lacks the ability to view your data from a display on the device itself, instead requiring a sync to the app on your iPhone. Once synchronized, however, all frustrations fall to the wayside as you become immersed in the visualizations available. Adding a social layer, you can add friends who are also using an UP to share and comment on activities, or in my case to be jealous of how much sleep everyone else is getting. Beyond the rich data, UP offers valuable insight based on interpretations of your activities. I learned, for example, that when you get less that 6 hours of sleep your body craves fat and carbs.

Find the new UP available for purchase at $130 and in multiple sizes and colors from Jawbone directly.