Well they did buy Pebble’s IP so maybe they’ve implemented their screen tech...
Yesterday El Reg wrote about the frustrating syncing failures plaguing FitBit gadgets over the past four or so weeks. Unlucky punters say that, since a mid-August Android app and firmware update was released, they have been unable to get their wearable fitness trackers to link up consistently with their handsets over the air, …
A hundred years ago when PCs first came out you would play a cassette and pray the volume / treble / vodoo were in sync and your program loaded. No feedback even if you had forgotten to plug cassette into PC. Then the Sinclair Spectrum came along which had black and yellow lines flashing on screen that showed data was being transferred and lo and behold feedback had been invented.
It is a pity Fitbit could not licence this bit of technology so there was some means of tracing progress when syncing. It is not hard, but beyond Fitbit's technical ability even though their support staff spend most of their time with sync problems.
Of course this ignores completely the elephant in the room. The fitbit is only a watch that can tell you the time if it can connect to home and update time and Fitbit have not borked the app.
Never ever buy a Fitbit is my advice.
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Yep they bought Pebble and then cut the loyal users adrift...
This is a fairly common misconception. Fitbit didn't buy Pebble and cut users; Pebble went out of business, and Fitbit bout some of Pebble's assets (mostly software IP), and hired a bunch of (now ex-)Pebble software people.
It wasn't a merger, or a takeover, it was a garage sale. Many people think that Pebble was a healthy company, and Fitbit killed it. The reality was that Pebble crashed and burned, sadly. What we got from Fitbit was about a year and a half of hosting service, which is about a year and a half more than the nothing we were owed.
I'm not impressed with what Fitbit has to offer, but I can't fault them for their handling of the Pebble assets.
I have one of those and I've found you have to wait until there's a version of software with all the bits you use actually working, then turn off auto updates quickly. Sorting out a custom face is also essential as the ones they provide a re a bit crap. It would be nice if they officially supported custom faces, but I think anyone tech savvy enough to be reading the Reg would be ok with it.
A month between charges is nice though.
To be fair, they did keep the servers up for six months longer than they originally planned, and allowed one of the original Pebble devs to write a final update that would allow the app to be pointed at different servers.
Yes, it would have been nice if they'd kept making Pebbles, and made them better, but they were surprisingly cooperative considering they had no obligation or financial interest in doing so.
Now, if only someone would make another similar smart watch, that doesn't bother with any of the fitness tracking, and has a multi-week long battery. Ideally before my Pebble2 bites the dust and goes to a better place, (ie, at the bottom of the drawer of old tech I can't bring myself to throw away, next to my Minidisc player).
Now, if only someone would make another similar smart watch
No one has yet reached the Holy Grail of Pebbleness, but the nearest one, in terms of battery life, always on screen, notifications, music control, but no API for apps, is the Amazfit Bip The other one that's getting attention now is the PineTime, but it's still at the design stage, which is where most Pebble wannabes go to die, sadly.
The Mrs and me both had a Charge 2 and syncing could be a real pain at times, taking multiple attempts before it worked. Had to send the wife's back for an exchange. She is 80 and can barely climb stairs but the FitBit thought she was hill runner doing daily marathons and mountain climbs. We've both given up on the devices now. It was interesting / fun for a while until the novelty wore off. The technology doesn't seem that reliable.
Yup. My wife has a Fitbit One, and she regularly finds that it won't sync, even doing the reset dance. It eventually catches up though. Since the app needs to talk back to Fitbit Central before it will sync, I suspect that's where the issue is.
At least when I replaced my Charge HR with a Charge 2 they seem to have fixed the strap skin allergy problem and provided a much more robust connection for the charger. Not had any of the sync / battery problems mentioned here though I am up to date. Tend to sync via the USB dongle plugged into my Windows 8 laptop rather than my Android tablet though need to use the latter to edit self-defined activities.
I have a charge 2 which I wore continuously (day and night except for showering) for about 18 months. I took it off one day and noticed the skin underneath was going like translucent. Definitely not an allergy, more like the skin was degrading. I stopped wearing the fitbit and after about 3 weeks my skin seemed to return to normal. Needless to say I won't be using it or any other fitbit products (possible any other similar products from other companies) anytime soon.
I also didn't like that I couldn't get access to my time-series data. It seems I can only access one day's worth of information at a time. I really wanted to build up a picture over time so this was no way to download this from the device, especially considering all the data is sitting right there on the device.
Updates to connected stuff is becoming the new normal and perhaps consumer laws need to be changed to take account of it. At the moment I can return stuff to the shop within 30 days of purchase for a full refund if it's not of adequate quality or fit for purpose (UK). Why not change the law so that this 30 day period resets every time there's a SW or FW update? 3 year old Fitbit borked? Take it back to the shop, get a full refund and let Currys/PC World have the big argument with Fitbit. It could get a bit complicated for PCs and phones, but it would make the manufacturer think twice before pushing a crap update out, removing functionality or moving something over to a "subcription model".
It's a nice idea, but that would simply mean you would get no FW/SW updates from the moment you purchased the device. No security updates, no fixes for problems that existed at release, nothing.
So whilst I really do like your idea, we all know what the practical response from firms would be. It's already a nightmare to get security updates for any piece of equipment thats more then 6 months old, add in your requirement and we wouldnt even get 1 months worth....
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I have the same experience here in the UK - in my case it's a Flex that my wife used until she got a Charge 2 a while ago, it used to sync regularly if not completely reliably. For the past month it no longer syncs unless I reset it with a paperclip while at the same time rebooting my phone. I was hopeful this morning, it worked on its own for the first time in a month; but my happiness was short-lived, it's back to not syncing.
My wife has a Charge 3 now and it had a few day's outage but is now working. I suppose it's not really surprising that a manufacturer focuses on newer kit when updating applications, the lesson is that if your hardware relies on a "free" support model in the cloud then it probably won't have a very long life. It could become quite a common problem - the "send destination to car" function for my 3-year old car has been abandoned by the manufacturer, purchasers of less common e-books have lost content, and I worry that some of the "smart devices" in my home might suddenly stop working in the same way.
I only sync manually but my Alta HR became very reluctant to sync - and then screen cover came off (Oh and the strap started to irritate after two years).
So I cast around for a (hopefully cheaper) replacement and I bought an Honor 4 HR (as recommended by Which). It looks stunning, colour amoled screen and only £30. Well firstly the app requires one to
sell give away your soul by having to load Huawei's "play services" as well as the app. Fortunately I have an old phone with nothing else on it and, as said earlier, I only sync twice a day manually. Then one discovers that on the 19th August there was an app update that disabled permanent HR recording. Also it doesn't auto recognise anything. You have to tell it to start recording whatever sort of exercise you are doing and then it starts the HR, So of course the obvious thing is to start an exercise and never stop it (actually you have to do it daily). Then the real reason for disabling HR becomes apparent - the battery is flat after about three days. The watch is recording HR data during exercise and you can see your HR on the watch, but you can't then see it on the app. The daily HR graph stays resolutely blank.
I needed something under £100 that did at least what the Alta did - I bought another Fitbit, an Inspire HR. Which seems to be working just fine and, apart from the app displaying "searching for device" when it obviously means "syncing", it syncs much quicker than the Alta HR. It still sends the HR data to HQ to be <cough> processed, so it still needs two syncs in the morning (with a decent gap between them) to see whether one is still alive. Yes, the screen is nothing like as good as the Huawei but it tells the time and still auto recognises most of what I do in the way of exercise. And I can now wear it in the shower. Bonus.
For my limited use case as a historical exercise and sleep monitor it works just fine. And the battery lasts at least a week.
Because I'm an amateur triathlete, and using my Garmin to track my performances in training and races over time is much cheaper than employing a professional coach. The Garmin BTW has been faultless over the last 3 years.
Just because you have no use case for one doesn't mean the rest of us don't.
Any one who has a use-case is going to get someone else to do it anyway. If you want to exercise do it and listen to your body. I used to run a lot and then fucking music players came out and people would listen to inspiring music and knacker themselves by the first corner or slow down when a lower tempo track came on and I'd plow into them. Then came those things people put on their cycle handles and they'd veer all over the fucking road trying to set them. And then came the fucking twat-fits who flex their wrists more than the average mouse wielding school boy and three of them on a freindly jog can spend ten minutes blocking the pavement trying to set/read their devices.
The only acceptable use-case for a fit-bit is for drawing dick picks on your local streets.
Remind me again where the phone is going to be to measure your heart rate while swimming, running or biking, count laps and provide basic info such as the SMS from your SO (which might mean an emergency)? I too was a naysayer until that specific need (swimming data/analysis) presented itself. The alternative would appear to be a heart rate band and the phone app, which would seem to provide no significant benefits and some detriment when compared to the wristwatch.
Apples and pears. Carrying the phone in your hand is a right pain and there's a substantial risk of dropping it. So you put it in an arm-strap. Where you can't see it. Yes, apps can speak split times but you have to wait for it to speak. And if you trip and fall there's a good chance it's goodbye £700 of phone. Glancing at my wrist to get HR, cadence, distance, time, pace, segment time etc is actually useful. That's before we get to the fact that at -4 my phone tends to turn itself off if the battery falls below 50%. (Garmin user, not fitbit..... The 200 series did have sync problems, 23x hasn't failed yet...)
Correction - it's you that is for sale. The shiny thing is just some electronic bling that you pay for in addition to giving up your privacy.
I don't need a fitness tracker. It isn't hard to go for a jog or brisk walk, plenty of nature to look at, and if you do it often enough you'll know your speed and be able to work out how far you have gone, and the whole calories thing can be dealt with by not eating microwave meals and burgers.
Really, this was a solved problem before they even invented the microprocessor...
I can't really fault those people who need a crutch, motivation, or addiction to tech, to keep to an exercise regime they should be following for wanting that crutch, and expecting it to work when they've paid good money for it.
While the right path to walk (or run) may be obvious, it's not always easy to stick to it, and anything which helps has to be welcomed.
a crutch, motivation, or addiction to tech, to keep to an exercise regime
Post-heart attack (and especially post new dog) I wanted to measure how much exercise I was getting (specifically how far I was walking with $NEWDOG). I don't go to the gym, I don't swim and I don't run  but I do walk quite a lot (3-4 miles a day on average)
So, rather than investing in some sort of smartwatch, I just put a pedometer app on my android phone - I carry it everywhere with me so why not?
I did make sure it's one that doesn't export data back to the originator and it doesn't use GPS (uses the built-in accelerometer). The biggest flaw in it is that it doesn't auto-load when the phone restarts following an OS update.
 I developed an allergy to the chlorine used to disinfect pools. Anaphylactic shock isn't much fun. None of the pools where I grew up use something other than chlorine and neither do any of the pools here. Of course, it may well be compounds released when chlorine reacts with other noxious substances in the water (ie urine et. al)..
 My joints can handle walking. Running - not so much. Especially after my 15Kg weight loss I *can* run - as long as I don't mind being barely able to walk for the next few days..
I have been seeing a lot of recent malicious Android apps that use SDK's that can access users health data.
Here is an example of the "Joker" spyware that was reported by ThreatPost this month:
Near the bottom of the Details page of VirusTotal shows a good example of what I've seeing a lot of recently regarding health data:
Seen shedloads of complaints with FitBits and syncing, but honestly i've had no issues with my old Charge 2 or my Charge 3, which synced just 3 minutes ago. My old Charge 2 lives on with a friend, who said it synced a few minutes ago for him too.
The only difference is.. we're both using 'dead' Windows Phones. The FitBit app recently updated but nothing broke. Maybe they added some extra features which nobody uses to the other apps and its broken everything?
The behaviour being reported sounds like what happens when something on the device goes into a tight infinite loop, taking ~100% of a core.
eg lowered battery life, and "background" operations becoming unreliable
Ironically, this is possibly the only occasion when some kind of metrics/reporting data would actually be useful.
With these kinds of "must-never-hang"-embedded devices one often deliberately writes the entire application as a long chain of subroutines that are passed once for every watchdog "tick". Each subroutine has "running" and "completed" flags, if "completed" it can be called again.
Done that way the program always hangs and always resets.
Back in the day we used a technique called 'Coloured Petri Nets' to mathematically guarantee that the software couldn't get into a hanging state / closed loop somewhere along the path.
Same for me.
I have had an Ionic for 1.5 ~ 2 years. I wear it every day. I get about 5 days from a charge. It has inbuilt GPS rather than the phone GPS, can buy stuff via NFC, is waterproof (I swim a lot), gets notifications from my phone (sounds nice, works well, but is actually useless). It can store and play music (I've never used that). The heart rate monitor works as it should. No drama here.
My daughter had an Alta (I think). It wasn't waterproof, but she assumed it was. She wore it swimming many times, but it finally gave up about 3 months later. She has a Charge 3 now, and it's all OK.
I checked with two other Charge 3 users at work today. No issues. All syncing properly.
My main complaint is that every model has a different charging connector. I mean, why not use the same one?
I have no affiliation with the brand at all, and it's no Rolls Royce, that's for sure.
I just like their stuff.
And when I see the cost, and the 'almost a whole day!' battery life, of an iWatch, I think I bought the right thing.
So: Why the beat-up?
>> And when I see the cost, and the 'almost a whole day!' battery life, of an iWatch, I think I bought the right thing.
To be fair to Apple, that's pretty much a worse-case scenario. I've got a Series 3 (got it from the "reconditioned" Store significantly less than the usual price) which I use as a fitness tracker, timepiece (remember that?), Strava logger and contactless payment device. I get 3 days out of my 42mm watch. It's been rock solid.
Bought my kid an Ace 2 and it's been nothing but hassle. Won't pair to the family ipad, have to use my android phone. Impossible to connect sometimes. Randomly syncs when in proximity of my phone but refuses to do so on demand. Haven't been able to set goals. Was able to change the watch face once, now it's an hour fast.
All in all a disaster
The picture is... 1) Call service desk and report issue, 2) service desk confirm, nobody else has had this issue, here is your ticket (moneymaker) number, reboot and call back later, 3) goto 1 with diferrent custards (a few times)
After a while call back yourself repeat step 1 & 2 then confirm this is not just me, here are your ticket numbers x,y,z for the same issue. Could be fun, and sometimes even worked (certainly worked with the Immense Blue Monolith back in the day...
Same here, probably outsourced service desk, getting funded by the tickets they close, no product failure information of any use getting back to the (probably one or 2 ) software developers (also outsourced) ... Its not like the old days I tell ya, when you could walk over to the techies and cuff them a few times to fix stuff like this.
I have a FitBit Versa which I *was* really happy with until recently. The battery lasts four days, auto activity detection works and its waterproof and until July I was a very happy customer. Then it stopped syncing and getting notifications. I contacted fitbit support via chat and after a fruitless hour uninstalling and reinstalling the app, rebooting the fitbit etc they suddenly announced my phone is "no longer supported" so tough luck. Great service.
I put the app on my iPad and gave that a go. For first two weeks I was happy, Fitbit synced perfectly. Then, oh dear, it has stopped syncing again. Every couple of days I have to unpair it in bluetooth and re-pair it to get the app syncing just long enough to get my data over. Then it dies again. If Fitbit don't fix this garbage app I will never buy one again!
I had a similar experience - solved by uninstalling the app and installing v2.95 - the last stable version - downloaded from APK Mirror. It still displays the new dashboard which must be generated server-side but 'looking for device' just takes a few seconds. Notifications are still borked though.
I think it works like this:
You post something which is a matter of opinion somebody disagrees with and they can argue against it.
You post something which is self-evident and somebody who disagreed with it can say to themselves "Oh, that's right" and move on or, if they can't manage that they downvote it. As a further measure they seek out other posts be the same poster and downvote those as well.
Look on those downvotes as an acknowledgement.
I wonder if persons-of-interest have been swatted by the cops using data from their mobile, combined with Fitbit data, to show their GPS location and sleep status.
Possibly while also checking whether any other mobile signals are present in the building, what you posted on Facebook earlier, then checked what movies you watched on Netflix before bedtime?
It seems probable this has happened.
Sounds to me more like Apple incompatibility with non Apple devices.
For a while we had this on every pair of BT headphones, turns out that this is well known.
The problem seems to be that in order to meet strict EMC requirements Apple used the exact frequency reference whereas cheaper headphones did not, resulting in passband being slightly off with variations in ambient temperature by a fraction of a MHz so packets got lost in the noise.
Of course a PC or Android BT card has stricter requirements so usually works fine however in my experience very short range.
It can to some extent be patched in software, Apple did actually release a fix for the older iPads and headphone(s) then worked.
So did the Android tablets after this fix.
Incidentally this can be checked with an SDR, at least in my experience BT headsets etc use the 26 MHz band as a reference clock and so can be tested with a modified dongle.
Maybe something underlying was changed? Bluetooth perhaps?
My Polar M430 running watch has been syncing perfectly for about 3 years and suddenly the "weekly time spent in heart rate zones" doesn't carry over to Polar Flow (their data viewing web service). I had the problem for 2 weeks. Seems OK now.
Nothing mentioned on the Polar web site about anything. Which I think is being very stupid bunnies, because that way support will get about 10 million emails about stuff they already know about and maybe they should be fixing the issue rather than responding to mails.
I had a problem with my Fitbit Charge 3 frequently refusing to sync, meaning that when I noticed I had to reset it causing it to lose days worth of data.
When I contacted support I was told it was because the Motorola G7+ (Android) phone I was using wasn't officially supported. If you look at the list of supported devices it's actually very small compared to the number of devices on the market:
I eventually found out that the solution was to delete the Fitbit from my remembered bluetooth devices, after that it would sync.
Fortunately the latest update has fixed the problem for me ( the opposite experience of many, it seems ).
Haven't you got anything better to do with your time and money than count how many steps you do a day? Do you really, honestly believe there's any benefit to your health to monitoring your heart rate and syncing it with your phone?
Spend more time talking exercise rather than fiddling with an electronic watch if you want to get fit, otherwise spend your money on beer and scratchings and be happier for it.
DISGUSTED OF TUNBRIDGEWELLS
My wife has the same problem with her $hitbit.
It is only a few months old and she has had enough of it not functioning as it should.
It is going back to the shop where we bought it from and she is going to demand her money back as it is not fit for purpose under the Sale of Goods Act (UK).
Under UK law they have to refund her.
She is then going to buy a Polar.