Health monitoring iPhone user experience UX

Back to the Nike Fuelband

My replacement Nike FuelBand arrived a week or two ago; it’s the Nike Fuelband SE. The packaging and the device look exactly like the first model of Fuelband, so I was a bit confused at first, but once you plug the device in, it’s a big difference.

For one thing, the display animations are much faster, requiring less time to check your progress or see what time it is. The most important change in the user experience, though, is the data sync. In the first version of the fuel band you had to press and hold the button (you know, that button that always broke for me on four different fuel bands) in order to sync. It would then link via Bluetooth to your phone and update the app with your progress. It did this very slickly and seamlessly in early versions in the app, but later versions were kind of wonky with this feature.

With the new model of the FuelBand, they do it the way it should have been done in the first place. Launching the *app* will just automatically sync up with the band and get the progress. Much more intuitive, and it seems to work much more reliably as well. It should also put a lot less stress on the button — I’m hoping the new model has a more reliable button mechanism to begin with, but I also will use it less as a result of this change, which is good thinking on their part. The FuelBand works best as a ‘put on and forget’ device.

Nike must be feeling the competition from other fitness trackers, or perhaps the upcoming Apple Watch — the Fuelband SE now is $99 for the stock models, and there are a couple of glitzier-looking colors that run $149.

Health monitoring

Nike Move no substitute for Nike Fuelband

My Nike Fuelband died yet again (which is definitely the subject of a future story), and this time they didn’t have replacements immediately in stock, so I’ve been band-less while Nike was inspecting my returned device and issuing a voucher. The good news is that my replacement is going to be the Fuelband SE model, which has more functionality, and presumably a better switch; I cannot complain about Nike’s Customer Service in the least.

The not-so-good news is that Nike Move, an M7-enabled iOS app, makes for a very poor substitute. For one thing, while it collects NikeFuel, their secret-sauce proprietary substitute for steps, calories, etc., it does not seem to integrate with the website. As a result, I can’t sync Fuel points I earned while my device was AWOL. The Nike Move app is integrated with Game Center, rather than Nike’s own gamified site. It’s also not integrated with HealthKit, even though NikeFuel is unique among the measurements captured in Apple’s Health app, the only proprietary measurement there.

Nike has some fabulous real estate in the HealthKit ecosystem, and none of their apps seem to take advantage of it yet. The Fuelband app is still not integrated with Health, though it is superbly integrated with the NikePlus site.

The other thing about Nike Move is that it is very poor at actually using the M7 co-processor. The app seems to need to be running to capture data, and even then it has days where it just forgets to get any. Runkeeper’s Breeze app, Lose It!, and Withings HealthMate app, are all capable of going back as far as the max 7 days of M7 data and calculating the steps. They don’t resolve the M7 events to exactly the same numbers, but they don’t miss any, either.

It seems like Nike is waiting for its next move in the tentative months before the Apple Watch comes out. Perhaps their developers are knee deep in WatchKit, but the shortcomings in Nike Move are a big missed opportunity to keep their mindshare in health monitoring alive.