Jawbone cleared a big hurdle Tuesday: The company's UP24 activity-tracking wristband will now play nice with select Android phones care of a version update to Jawbone's Android app on the Google Play Store.
It's great news for Android-oriented fans of Jawbone's wearable who've grown tired of the syncing process required by the original UP wristband. The original UP can only be synced by plugging the wristband into a phone's headphone jack, but the newer UP24 supports wireless data syncing over Bluetooth.
Wireless syncing is a welcome addition to the fashion-forward fitness wearable, and a prime reason why I gave the UP24 a positive review in November.
Unfortunately, the UP24's Android support commences with just 10 different handsets--but at least some big names are supported. You're free and clear to use the UP24 if you own an HTC One; Sony Xperia Z1; LG Nexus 4 or Nexus 5; Motorola Moto G or Moto X; or Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Note 3, S3 or S4. You can check this link for support information as it develops. For what it's worth, any compatible device will need to run Android 4.3 or higher, and support Bluetooth Smart Ready.
The UP24 isn't packed with advanced sensors like the Basis band, which features a heart rate monitor and advanced sleep tracking. But the UP24 and its accompanying app do provide basic step and sleep tracking in an engaging, fun interface that's easy to use. I also dig how Jawbone's platform integrates data from other fit-tech applications. For example, my daily weight measurements from my Withings Wi-Fi scale appear in my Jawbone app interface.
Still, Jawbone will need to up its game (pun intended) in the sensor arena if it's to keep pace with industry trends--and a $250 million investment could help. Basis is reportedly joining Team Intel and rumors tell us that Apple is making a health-and-fitness focused iWatch with a blood glucose sensor directly integrated in the hardware.
And how's this for a harbinger of the future: On Monday I spoke with SensoPlex, a company that makes sensor component hardware for start-up wearable companies, and its CEO, Hamid Farzaneh, told me the next generation of its platform will include bio sensors for monitoring heart rate and blood oxygen content.
Can Jawbone really afford to sit still? Providing Android support for UP24 and fun insights on caffeine addiction shows positive forward movement, but Jawbone needs to join the next generation of fitness wearables. They're coming. It's a matter of when, not if.