Don’t lose sleep over sleep tracking

In the case study on orthosomnia, researchers found that patients had been spending excessive time in bed to try to increase their sleep numbers, which may have made their insomnia worse. And they found it difficult to persuade patients to stop relying on their sleep trackers, even if the numbers had been flawed… More here.

Interesting study. I have tracked my sleep for more than 4 years and in that time I have gone from a bad diet to extreme dieting to a good diet. I have gone from being very overweight to arguably underweight to about the right weight.

When I look back at my stats the average each month has not varied by more than 10 minutes at ‘any’ point and this is with a variety of trackers. I can’t be sure, but I do wonder if we will sleep the amount we need to regardless of external factors. For me this is just over 6 hours a night, including weekends.

Fitbit Inspire HR (quick) review

I am persevering with Fitbit despite the many problems I, and others, have experienced with the recent trackers and smartwatches from the company. Up until the Fitbit Charge 3 everything was OK with fairly accurate step tracking and flights recorded as they should be.

And then the newer devices appeared and things started to go wrong. Some people experience steps and flights recorded while driving to the point that the flight tracking has become meaningless. There are multiple threads on this at the Fitbit Community and despite the occasional interaction from moderators telling people to reset their device to return it, the problems carry on.

These little tips continue, but by and large the threads are ignored by the company despite multiple examples of real-world evidence confirming the problems. Obviously this should put anyone off buying another Fitbit, but for me there is a problem and it is the software.

I don’t wear an Apple Watch, or any smartwatch, because I love me real watch. I won’t use Garmin because the related phone app is garbage and it is a hassle to enter calories consumed. So I am left with Fitbit because it covers everything and I have the Aria scales which also connect to the same app; everything in one place makes for an efficient and usable experience.

Also, I can go by trends and (to a point) trust that a device saying I got 10,000 steps yesterday should be able to be relatively accurate, or inaccurate, to the same level consistently.

So, I decided to give the Inspire HR a try. It is cheap at £89, non-HR version is £20 less, but offers almost all of the same functionality as the Charge 3.

It sits somewhere in between the Charge 3 and Alta in terms of width, but offers a very strange design which shouldn’t work the way it does. The Alta HR is not as wide yet manages to sit higher on the wrist because it is longer and for such a small tracker does not use its size well at all. The Inspire, however, wraps around the wrist thanks to the strap design and the way it attaches to the device itself. There is no extra width at all and this makes for a surprisingly pleasing effect when on the wrist.

In terms of features you get all that you would expect; step tracking, sleep etc etc, but it is in the ease of use that it works so well. You can start an exercise on the Inspire without needing to touch your phone and there is a decent amount of information available on the tiny screen at any one time. It feels much more like the Charge 3 software-wise than it does the Alta which is an advantage.

Some aspects of the tracking are superb. I believe that Fitbit has nailed sleep tracking and calorie tracking is exceptionally easy in the phone app. If it included a UK food database for food barcode scanning that would tick the final box for me.

Battery life is slightly short at 5 days and this is noticeable if you are coming from something like the Alta which offers 7 days, but if you are coming from an Apple Watch you will notice it in a much more positive light.

Overall I have been impressed with the Inspire HR. It is a no nonsense tracker that never gets in the way, that offers a decent amount of information on screen at any time and just enough battery life to feel practical on every level. If I could trust the accuracy of the exercise and step tracking it would be close to perfect, but to be fair there doesn’t seem to be a tracker available today, including the Apple Watch, that tracks with what could be described as very good accuracy.

Is this the best value Fitbit tracker on the market today? Yes, it probably is.

Fitness trackers ‘add miles to your marathon’

It found that the least reliable was the Garmin Vivosmart 4, which underestimated the distance by 10.8 miles – meaning the researcher actually ran 37 miles.

Garmin said it was because that particular tracker did not contain GPS.

It described the Vivosmart 4 as an “all-round smart fitness tracker” and suggested that marathon runners use its Forerunner range which is GPS-enabled.

Of the eight Apple models involved in the test, the Apple Watch series 1 was the most accurate, over-estimating the distance by 1%, while the series 3 overestimated by 13% – stating that the runner had completed the marathon distance after 22.8 miles… More here.

I have tried and used trackers from Apple, Fitbit, Garmin and others over a few years now and not one of them has proved to be anywhere near accurate.

There are obvious reasons for this because stride length cannot be measured accurately and it will change depending on what you are doing. However, saying that the lack of GPS causes a problem is not a good thing because the tracker in question should not be offering to track treadmill running and other activities in the first place.

Trends are all you can look at. Accept the inherent inaccuracies and look to build the trend over time.

Wena Pro by Sony

Turn your favourite watch into a smart watch, all of the latest smart features are incorporated into the smart wena strap, giving you the perfect balance of style and convenience. Leave your bulky wallet behind thank to the contactless payment system built into the wristband. Get notifications on smartphone calls, apps and texts, all with an optional vibration mode. Monitoring your health has never been easier. Just wear your Wena wrist pro and check steps walked, calories burned, track sleep and more from a dedicated application.

Wena wrist Pro combines the beauty of analogue timepieces with the convenience of technology. Add your favourite watch face to the wena pro to create a personalised smartwatch that’s literally like no other or choose a face from the extensive wena lineup. The wena wrist pro smart strap is compatible with 18mm, 20mm and 22mm watch faces so you can truly make it your own… More here.

A good idea and I’m pleased to see a real company like Sony trying this approach. My main concern would be the quality of the fitness tracking, but time will tell.

Which was the fittest country in 2018?

When it comes to stepping, Hong Kong took first place. Leading the charge in the nearly 24 trillion steps users took in 2018, Hong Kong steppers fit in 10,493 daily steps on average over 365 days. Spain came in second with 10,002 average steps. Ireland, Sweden, and Germany rounded out the top five countries who stepped it up in 2018 with 9,726, 9,609, and 9,601 average steps respectively.

Some interesting numbers here.

Take fitness away from the Apple Watch and it becomes annoying

I have managed to hurt my Achilles tendon which means I cannot run and so my fitness regime has taken a serious knock over the past two weeks. A bit of weight training does not feel like fitness to me and it is not easy to measure in a meaningful way.

So, I have had to keep my movement down and this means aiming for below 3,000 steps per day rather than the 15,000 I had been doing up until the injury. This has made my interactions with the Apple Watch much more reactive because there is no need to start workouts from the watch and I am not checking the stats during the day.

This means that the Apple Watch is currently for telling the time and receiving notifications, and boy is that irritating when there are a lot.

It’s only annoying because that is all it is doing. It feels like it is an inconvenience that I don’t need to deal with which is strange because it does that when I am mainly using it for fitness as well.

I suspect the problem is that when I am using the Apple Watch for tracking outdoor walks, runs, weights, sleep, notifications, the time, weather, calories etc etc it feels like the interruptions are a price worth paying and I tend to look at them in a more favourable way.

Take away the fitness and the entire product starts to unravel. It has only just dawned on me how much fitness and health are a part of the Apple Watch and when those are taken away there is not too much of a product left. It’s a real surprise.

The Fitbit Charge 2 has never been beaten

The above review popped up in my Flipboard, presumably by accident because it was from 2016. However, it got me to thinking about where Fitbit is heading and more specifically about the devices that came after which I have tried over extended periods of time.

My conclusion is that the Fitbit Charge 2 was the best device when it was released and that sadly for Fitbit, it is still the best device the company has released to date.

Fitbit Ionic- it is fairly accurate and does a good job of tracking your overall fitness, but it is a carbuncle of a device and is far too big for most women to wear. It is remarkably ugly and does not suit the tastes of the majority.

Fitbit Versa- highly inaccurate and gave me at least 10-20% more steps that I had actually done. Add to this the crazy situation where floors are counted when sitting down or driving and it starts to annoy.

Fitbit Charge 3- ditto all of the problems with the Versa and the situation is made worse by Fitbit refusing to acknowledge that their newer devices have this tracking problem, particularly in regards to floors climbed.

Throw in more than occasional software glitches with the online Fitbit service and the obvious choice is to look elsewhere. Fitbit helped me a great deal while I used the companies products, but alas the reason I wear an Apple Watch now is not because it is better, it is because Fitbit got worse.

Now this is how you do support

I emailed the developer of Step It Up to ask a couple of questions regarding how it works on the Apple Watch Series 4. It is the first app I have found that feels as if it could replace the Fitbit system for me and at an extremely competitive price. Anyway, I waited a couple of days and received the following which is personal, information and enthusiastic. How often do you see that?

Hi Shaun,

I’m sorry for my late response to your email you sent over the weekend, I’m a graduate student studying clinical psychology and still getting adjusted to the new semester.

Thank you for the kind words regarding Step It Up, I’m glad to hear that you like it. I’ve heard from a number of users that Step It Up really helped them transition from the Fitbit to the Apple Watch. Step It Up does have support for most of the complications supported by the old Apple Watches, I’m putting the finishing touches on the complications for the Series 4. Please keep an eye out for an update around the end of this week or over the weekend. If you use any of the other faces besides the infograph faces you’ll see Step It Up in the complication menu.

In regards to the kg – pounds bug, I am aware of a bug causing them to switch from time to time. I just implemented a new way where the kg/pounds would be set automatically for the user based on their region, but it seems to be causing a lot of issues for users who use kilograms.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Best wishes,

The app is available here and trust me, it is well worth a download and a subsequent purchase.

Confessions of a FitBit addict

One of the great philosophical questions of our time is this: if a person goes for a run and there is no Fitbit on their wrist to record it, did it really happen? I have been struggling with said conundrum all week, having been forced to go for a lonely jog without my fitness tracker, which had run out of battery.

Good article, if you can read it all by subscribing. It is a conundrum and a habit that is easy to fall into. Once you fall into the notion, however, that actually doing things and eating less works the Fitbit merely becomes a tracker to articulate your progress.

Fitbit Versa after a few weeks: multiple problems remain

I posted the below on the Fitbit community yesterday in this thread

OK, I wore my Versa on my left wrist (synced to my iPhone as non-dominant wrist) and a Charge 2 on my right wrist (synced to my wife’s iPhone as dominant wrist)

22 floors on Versa / 8 on Charge 2
12.356 steps on Versa / 11,866 on Charge 2

I then swapped wrists the next day-

16 floors on Versa / 5 on Charge 2
9,328 steps on Versa / 9,112 on Charge 2

I then used my wife’s Versa instead of mine to see what would happen-

14 floors on Versa / 5 on Charge 2

So, my wife’s Versa is broken and needs returning and presumably so is mine?

Or maybe my Charge 2 is faulty. Although when I wake up and drive to work it will show 0 floors whereas the Versa can show quite a few at times when I have been driving or walked on flat surfaces.

I believe that the Versa is ‘broken’ at floor tracking and with steps at times as well. When I have the time I will post all of the results with screenshots to prove what is happening, but some of the excuses being made don’t make for a tracker that is accurate.

The obvious answer is that Fitbit needs to fix the Versa, and possibly the Ionic as well because that also over-counted floors for me.

Too many people are seeing inaccurate floor counting with the Versa and it seems to be over counting steps as well.

Add to this the quite dreadful setup for moving music to the device and the archaic way it handles watch faces (only one face stored on the watch at a time and various problems keeping registration intact) you start to believe that the company rushed the release of the product.

For all of the positive parts which include a great design, decent battery life and an overall good feeling there are areas where the company cannot compete with Apple.

It leaves me stuck using a product that does most of what I need in terms of fitness and of course it works perfectly with the Fitbit app, but having used an Apple Watch I feel that it could be improved somewhat.

Then again, that would be like expecting Microsoft, Samsung and the rest to match Apple in terms of hardware and software integration. It just won’t happen.

And sadly it looks as though Apple taking fitness seriously on the Apple Watch won’t happen either.