After years of tracking my daily activity, runs around the world, sleep, and eating it is clear that Apple HealthKit is the best system for bringing together a multitude of health and fitness services, as well as data across various mobile platforms.
Jawbone's UP service provides the motivation needed to improve your health, working with Apple HealthKit to bring in data from various sources, including my Tizen-based smartwatch.
When you think of Apple, you don't often think of openness. However, there is no other health and fitness system that brings as much to the table as Apple HealthKit.
Apple's HealthKit serves as the conduit through which all of your data can be synced. The improved dashboard in iOS 9.3 is also useful for viewing all of your data. However, HealthKit is not designed to coach or motivate you to improve your health. It is simply the best data mechanism available on any mobile platform to provide you with the flexibility to use whatever health and fitness ecosystem you prefer.
The one caveat with using Apple HealthKit is that you need to have an iOS device to setup and manage the syncing of various services. You may be an Android smartphone user with an iPad or roll like me with multiple phones.
While Fitbit stands at the top of the fitness tracker market, it's the one service that does not play well with Apple HealthKit and you will not find it in the list of available sources of data. This is one reason I chose Jawbone UP over Fitbit as my preferred daily service.
After purchasing your tracker and installing your preferred service, you then launch the Apple Health application on your iOS device and select the source. My current list of sources includes Misfit, Pebble Time, Polar Flow, Nike+ Running, RunKeeper, Sleep++, Strava, UP, and Withings. It's actually stunning how many services have embraced Apple HealthKit and provide conduits for syncing your data to one centralized database.
The sources don't just sync the data from a particular device or service into Apple Health, but the data collected by Apple Health can also then be written out to all of your preferred services. I provide several examples of how I have various pieces of hardware collecting data and then sharing that data to the Jawbone UP service through Apple Health.
Jawbone's UP service
After testing out various services, including Jawbone UP, Fitbit, Microsoft Health, UA Record, MyFitnessPal, Misfit, and more I have selected Jawbone UP (PDF press release) as my preferred ecosystem. It provides a graphically pleasing presentation of your sleep, activity, and nutrition, practical and customized coaching and motivation tips, network of friends with a leaderboard to help motivate you, customizable trend reports to view on your phone, hardware options to track data in various situations, and ability to sync with various other services from within the UP app.
In the past I used Jawbone UP bands daily to collect my data and still use a couple devices for specific situations. For example, I have an older UP24 band that I have on my nightstand to track sleep if one of my watches needs to sit on the charger. I recently purchase an UP Move device to secure in my shorts pocket while playing basketball since a watch or band is not allowed during this activity. The wonderful thing with the UP service is that I can sync a multitude of hardware and have a singular view of all my data.
Hardware and setup examples
As an early adopter of wearable technology, my use cases may be a bit extreme here and I am trying to bring in data from several devices and sources into a singular service, Jawbone UP. I realize most people likely have one smartwatch and maybe one tracker, but wanted to provide you with some examples of various hardware that work with Apple HealthKit and Jawbone UP.
Apple Watch: One of the reasons I was motivated to finally choose a singular service for viewing and managing my data was that I wanted to wear my Apple Watch for activity tracking. The Apple Watch is an amazing smartwatch that provides nearly everything I could want in a smartwatch, but I didn't want my daily activity sitting in a closed system. Jawbone provides an UP app for iOS, and Android, that does not require UP hardware. After installing the UP app, you can then choose to sync data from your Apple Watch to the UP service.
Until a week ago, I always charged my Apple Watch at night. I recently discovered Sleep++ and with some strategic charging have been using my Apple Watch to track my sleep and then sync that into the UP service.
I can now choose to use my iPhone 6s Plus and wear my Apple Watch without worrying about losing my daily activity data if I decide to wear a different watch or use an Android smartphone. The UP app also provides a much better wellness experience than Apple Health so if you wear an Apple Watch as your only activity tracker I highly recommend you consider installing and using the free UP app.
Pebble Time: When I am traveling for three to four days, I will often leave my smartwatches, with proprietary charging cables and one day battery life, behind and go with the Pebble Time smartwatch. There is an UP watchface for the Pebble Time that will collect your step data and sync that to the UP service.
The Pebble Time, through Pebble Health, can also now track your sleep automatically. That sleep data can then be synced through Apple HealthKit and into the UP service. Thus, the Pebble Time is also a viable smartwatch alternative that can be used as a daily activity tracker.
GPS run tracking to UP: The Apple Watch does not have GPS so I use other devices to track my running, including a Polar V800, Samsung Gear S2 3G, Fitbit Surge, or a phone. I then have this GPS running data synced to Strava or RunKeeper. Jawbone provides direct conduits from various GPS running services into the UP service so Apple HealthKit is not required. However, I do still have these various GPS running services setup with the Apple Health app in order to have a central repository for all of this data.
The Gear S2 3G is one of my favorite smartwatches ever and with the integrated cellular connection it also serves to provide some sense of safety when I am out running. However, it is a fairly closed system with a direct connection to sync to Samsung S Health. I have been testing a multitude of methods to get the data out of S Health and into UP, with little success. It would be wonderful if Jawbone would release an UP Tizen app for the Gear S2, but so far that hasn't happened. I could also live with Jawbone UP appearing as a supported service in S Health, but so far Samsung has provided only selected niche services for S Health integration.
It's through one of these services and Apple HealthKit that I achieved success yesterday in getting step counting tracked by the Samsung Gear S2 3G into the UP service. This required a Gear S2, an Android smartphone with S Health app, an iOS device, and the Jawbone UP app so is a very special use case. However, it does get to the heart of my post here that Apple HealthKit is the one system to rule them all.
So what's the secret path to success here with the Gear S2 and UP?
- Install the Withings Health Mate and UP (purple icon) apps on your Android phone and iOS device. Sign up for Withings and UP accounts if you don't already have them and login to the services on both devices.
- Enable activity tracking in the Withings apps.
- Open up the S Health app on your Android device. Choose More and Partner apps from the upper right menu and make sure the Withings Health Mate app has a green right arrow highlighted.
- In the S Health app, go to S Health Settings>Data permissions and make sure that the Withings option is allowed to read step count. You now have Withings collecting step count from your Gear S2 through S Health.
- I have not yet found a way to get Withings data to UP directly on an Android phone so that's why you then need to pick up your iOS device.
- Open up the Apple Health app on your iOS device, tap on Sources and make sure steps is selected in the Withings source. Also check the purple UP source and make sure that UP can read steps from Apple Health.
- Go about your day with the Gear S2 3G. You may have to open up the Withings app on your Android and iOS device to initiate syncing to the Withings cloud, but then your steps will appear in the UP system across your various devices.
This last example is obviously an example of a very specialized setup, but it does show that Apple HealthKit is the service to bring various diverse data sources together so that you have your choice of fitness tracking hardware and are not as locked down as you may think.