Tag Archives: one

The Fitbit One

387 steps

I’ve owned a Fitbit One since the 10th of January, and two weeks ago was the first time I did over 10,000 steps in a single day.

On the surface of it, the Fitbit is a pretty cool little gadget. Some may see it as an expensive pedometer, but it’s a little more than that.

I’ve owned a number of various pedometers over the years. I remember this one that, I kid you not, came out of a cereal packet; some promotion about eating healthier and doing more exercise, or something — it was quite a few years ago. Man, I remember a time in primary school when I used to wear a Pocket Pikachu to school every day for months on end – an truly fascinating tale for another time, I assure you – and more recently, the time when Pokemon Soul Silver came with the Pokéwalker. Those pedometers were great if all you wanted to do was track your steps, feed Pikachu, or transfer gifts to and from your GameBoy Color, but that was about all they were good for.

Which brings us to the Fitbit One. The One is perhaps the first pedometer I’ve owned that’s actually designed for the 21st century. For one, it’s designed to connect with other devices; it uses Bluetooth to connect to your iOS device or Android device (well, some of them), where the Fitbit app can then sync and show you all kinds of stats (more on this later). All Fitbit devices are also backed by a great website, and there’s even a social aspect to the Fitbit ecosystem that lets you see how you’re doing against your friends.

After um-ing and ah-ing over the purchase for a number of weeks, I decided to splurge on an expensive pedometer. I originally bought a Fitbit One mainly out of curiosity, being the gadget nut that I am, but little did I know what I was getting into.

Fitbit One Screens GIF

It tracks steps, but it does so much more than that. Through a series of screens on the One, you can see how many steps you’ve taken since midnight, how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed, the (estimated) distance you’ve travelled, the number of calories you’ve burned, a visual representation of your exercise for the day, what the current time is, and when your next alarm is set for. Pressing the single button on the front of the One cycles through these different screens.

fitbit dashboard sleep graph

But if you hold the button, it starts a timer which lets you track how much sleep you’re getting. Instead of wearing the One in the belt clip, you put it into the wristband and wear it with you when you sleep. Doing so lets you see how much sleep you’re getting every night, but it does require a bit of vigilance on your part by wearing it every night. Of course, it also tracks the quality of your sleep by seeing how much you move during the night. And in the morning, the One will wake you up with a “silent alarm”, all of which can be configured via the iOS app. They can repeat, you can set up more than one, and all in all, it’s a very well thought-out feature. As a thing that just vibrates on your wrist, the One is pretty effective in doing its job of getting you up in the morning.

All of this is backed up by the fantastic website and iOS app, both of which let you see all the information you sync via the iOS/Mac/Windows apps.

At the most basic level, the Fitbit One (and its accompanying ecosystem) are a powerful information toolbox, a dream if you’re a sucker for lovely stats and graphs.

But it’s a little more than that, too.

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Wherefore art thou, iPhone? (Part II)

Read part one over here!

The first real public outing of my shiny new iPhone 4 where I actually showed it to people didn’t happen until Friday night. Youth was on, and I decided to carry my iPhone 4 with me – not because I wanted to show everyone how cool I was, but mostly because it was going to be my main phone eventually anyway. Earlier in the day I had bought some Belkin Grip Vue case for it, as well as a set of front and back Invisible Shields. Those too came along to youth.

Someone jumped on me as soon as I walked in the door, asking excitedly if I had “the new iPhone”. I replied yes, and she then asked if she could have a look. I produced the phone from my pocket, complete with Belkin case and screen protector – and the first question she asks? “Does it have that antenna issue?”, to which I reply no* – “Is that because of the case you have?”, which elicited another terse no from me. She then asked about the shape of the thing, where I mentioned it had a flat back instead of the curved back of previous iPhones (iPhone 2G not withstanding). She asked me how much I paid for it – I answered a lot.

No mention of what new features it had. No mention of that gorgeous retina display (granted, she didn’t unlock it, but she did turn the display on), no mention of how much better the camera was, no mention of how it did 720p video (720p what now?), nothing.

And that right there, dear reader, is why the iPhone 4 is just another phone. In consumer terms, the iPhone is faster. It’s “differently shaped”. The antenna is on the outside, the display is clearer, and its got a flash for the camera, but all those other things – 326 pixels per inch, IPS, 720p – are for the more technically minded among us. Why does pixel density matter? Why is an IPS display so much better than a traditional LCD? Why is 720p video recording such a big deal on a phone?

It’s funny – when you think about it, all the iPhone is is just another phone. The next iteration of the same, the next step in the evolutionary tree. It’s adds features (ooh, video calling), to be sure, but whether those features revolutionize the platform is questionable, to say the least – regardless of what the Apple PR machine tells you.

When your computer can’t run the latest games anymore, it’s time to think of an upgrade. When it slows down to a crawl even doing the most basic of tasks (like typing on a keyboard, for example), it’s time to start looking for a new computer.
The new iPhone, for all of it’s upgraded display, upgraded camera, upgraded battery, processor and RAM, is just the next step. For all other intents and purposes, it’s just another brick in the wall.

Still, that doesn’t stop it from being the best brick so far.

On that antenna issue – I said no when asked about it because, for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t affect me. Yes, I can get it to drop one or two bars by simply bridging the gap between the two antennas, but even so, it doesn’t affect data speeds or call quality (I only make a call every couple of months, if that – most of my usage is data and messages) – so clearly it’s a non-issue for me. Besides, I figure the phone will probably live in a case for most of it’s life – but we’ll wait and see how annoying that becomes.

I tried FaceTime during the week as well. While I’ve never video-called anyone on a mobile phone before, FaceTime was pretty good fun – even if it is limited by the fact that it can only work over Wi-Fi. It’s one of those features I’m glad is there, even if I know I personally won’t be using it that often.

Revolutionary? Questionable. Evolutionary? Undoubtedly so. Game changing? Not really, and especially not if you’ve had an iPhone for any amount of time before this.

It’s still the best phone I’ve ever owned – and at the end of the day, that’s all it really comes down to.

Wherefore art thou, iPhone? (Part I)

Alternate title: iPhone 4 review. ‘Cos this is what this is.

It’s just a phone, guys.

Aha, but you see, dear reader, that is where the distinction ends. It’s a phone, but it’s also a gateway to the Internet. An incredible communication device. An excellent media player. A brilliant email client. And even a capable games console.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the iPhone 4.

As I stood outside T-Life Northgate, eagerly lining up for the midnight launch of the most anticipated smartphone yet, some Optus-reseller employee comes up to us. After a short chat about mobile telco’s (there is no comparison between Telstra and Optus, especially in Tasmania), he decided to give us a sneak-peek at his stores’s demo unit. A couple of hurriedly-tweeted TwitPics later, some Angry Birds launch-time speed tests between the 4, a 3GS and a 3G, and not a few “oohs” and “aahs” at that gorgeous retina display, and our iPhone 4 lust hit fever pitch.

That last hour was the longest hour of my life. But it was cool, because I got to spend it chilling with some very cool Apple camaraderie – who provided an ample supply of entertainment, gummy bears, and decent conversation. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

After what seemed like an age (but in reality was only five hours) I was second into the store, behind the very nice man who had provided my night’s transport – I felt I owed him that much, at least. Out again not 20 minutes later, one 32GB iPhone 4 in hand, I was the first out – beating the first guy in by mere seconds. The front half of the line (which by now spanned more than 100 people, easily) applauded me as the first to emerge from the T-Life gauntlet, and I was the first person in Tassie with the Apple’s most highly-coveted offering so far.

Bringing it home later that night (or early that morning, as the case was) and setting it up from the comfort of my own bed was an absolute joy. Downloading my most frequently used apps, setting my email, Twitter, Facebook, IM accounts – the first thing I noticed was how much faster the thing was. Downloads, installs, any operation at all, just flew along. Sheer unadulterated speed oozing from every animation, every transition, every app launch, every fast app switch. And no keyboard lag!

Early the next morning I took out my cut up SIM (that I had converted from a mini-SIM to a micro-SIM the night before with my handy-dandy SIM cutter), and put in the official micro-SIM that had been provided as it had been activated and was ready to go. No dramas there.

Spent the whole of Friday babying the thing – the whole experience wasn’t as “wow” as it was when I originally got an iPhone almost two years ago now, but it was still a worthy upgrade (thanks in part to iOS 4 suffering serious performance issues on an iPhone 3G). Again, speed was the most noticeable thing here – the phone was markedly more responsive. It kept me entertained through dull Games Physics lectures, and was an excellent public-transport companion thanks to the small music selection I had synced on earlier that morning.

The camera is nothing short of amazing. The colours of any photo just “pop”, and it’s nice to finally have a camera that has an autofocus that actually works – which means macro photos are now able to be taken without any of that blurriness the 3G camera exhibited. While I haven’t yet used the video camera for any serious purpose, I’m sure the opportunity will eventually arise.

While the screen is the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever laid eyes on (if I had a girlfriend this sentence would read differently), to be honest you have to be looking pretty hard to notice the difference in everyday things (typing out messages, – maybe it’s because I’m using it with an anti-glare screen protector (which sacrifices screen clarity for a more matte look [as opposed to the glossy]), or maybe it’s because my eyesight is absolutely terrible. Either way, the difference is figuratively night and day when placed to a previous-generation device like the iPhone 3G or 3GS (as they have the same screen). Text is one of the things that benefits the most from the much higher pixel density and improved screen tech (IPS vs traditional TN) – increased contrast and no more jagged edges means text is now clear as, well, crystal. The new font is a welcome change as well!

Technologically, it’s very impressive – the best mobile display on the market paired with an impressive (but not exhaustive, Apple aren’t known to have features for the sake of it) feature list, and one of the best smartphone platforms on the market today? A winning combination, indeed.

Nexus One from an iPhone Developer’s Perspective

Overall, it’s just a general lack of attention to detail that defines the differences between the iPhone and the Nexus One, and that lack of attention to detail exists on both the hardware and software side. The Nexus One isn’t a bad phone by any stretch of the imagination. Had it come out three years ago, it would have been revolutionary. But you do have to train yourself to Android’s idiosyncrasies much more so than the iPhone. If you’ve never owned or used an iPhone, you’ll probably find the Nexus One to be a very adequate device and will assume that the minor annoyances are just part of owning a smart phone. If you’ve owned an iPhone for any length of time, you’ll likely feel, as I do, that it’s a rather half-baked device with some good ideas but generally weak execution.

via iPhone Development: Nexus One from an iPhone Developer’s Perspective.