Saturday, August 3, 2019

Finally Got A Smart Watch

So after years of fighting the urge to get a smart watch..
I finally had one gifted to me by my lovely wife!
Not that I had anything against them.. its just that none of the options I'd looked like seemed worth the hefty price tag.. and Fitbit was a brand I never looked at seriously since all their products were pretty expensive and a lot didn't even have screens back them.

The only smart watch I ever took into serious consideration was the Pebble.. especially after a cousin got it off the original kickstarter and gave me rave reviews of it. But then the company sort of fizzled out.

Also sometime then, I stopped wearing wrist watches.. finding them redundant since I was walking around looking at my smartphone all the time, and it had a clock visible on almost every screen.

Years later along comes the Fitbit Versa and its Lite version. I got the latter. Both are roughly a third the cost of every other smart watch out there.

Now while this is a Fitbit.. I'm not a fitness fanatic, so am mostly using it as a smartwatch and only really look at the health stats.. just because it makes it look interesting.

At this point there are only 4 features of this device that truly interest me and keep me occupied all day.
- The clock faces.
I change this once or twice a day. The clock face library is pretty vast, but there is no way to sort them so you can browse free/paid. you have to click on each thumbnail.. go to its page and realise that its a paid clock face. Its very frustrating. Also there is no favorites or bookmarking system.. so when you change a face.. and want to get one of your old favorites back.. you have to go search for it again.

I wound up with an evernote doc with screenshots of the watch faces I like and would want to use again and again. (the watch can only store one face. to change faces, you have to use the fitbit app on the paired phone)

There is one awesome and free face called "Maker" that will let you customise the hell out of it and create your own watch face.. I haven't had the time to try it yet. Will do so and post about it soon.

That said, whenever I go for a swim, I change it to a bold high conrast watch face that i can check quickly through wet goggles or underwater.. yes the Versa Lite is swim-proof upto 50meters.

My other favorites are the scifi looking watch faces.. especially the Star Trek LCARS themed ones.

- The heart rate monitor
and resultant metrics.
Have only had it for a week so will blog about this when I have at least a month of logged fitness data to look at.

- Notifications and replyingI really enjoy responding to  whatsap/text messages with a handful of preset messages or emoji without picking up my smartphone.

- Apps.. haven't found any that have really impressed me.. but then its essentially a watch.. I don't really even know what my expectations are in terms of apps that run on my wrist.
Its fun looking at weather predictions on my wrist though..

and triggering my phones camera from the watch..

the IFTTT webhooks app might get a dedicated blog post.. if I get it to work.

Also theres something called Fitbit Labs that I hear has an app that will pause Netflix when I fall asleep during a binge night!

That said these existing features are enough to make me love this device, and why I would recommend this to anyone looking for a smartwatch. This is all you really need in a smart wristwatch in my humble opinion. The rest can be handled by your smartphone. Costlier smartphones by Apple, Motorola, Samsung etc.. come with essentially these features.. and of course a few more.. but are priced exponentially more.

Now to brass tacks..
The features missing in the Versa Lite are:

- Swim lap tracking 

I'm not an Olympic swimmer, so dont care. The Versa Lite doesnt count laps.. but is waterproof, and has been recording workout metrics from my swims.. some people online have claimed that the phone app will start logging that data as swim data. I have yet to verify this. Will post an update if I do.

- On-screen guided workouts
Your phone can do that.. and will be easier to look at.
Most workouts I've ever done.. kept both my hands busy.. and it was just easier to put my phone on the floor or a bench and look at it like that.

- Stores and plays music
My phone is with me all the time,
depending on your workout/sport this might be useful I suppose.
Also isn't everyone just streaming nowadays?

- Contactless payments with Fitbit Pay
Interesting, but not available in my country anyway
- Can count how many floors you’ve climbed
yes, this one does sound interesting.
I do climb steps everyday, and having a tracker for that is intriguing..

- The Versa costs a little more
Not that much more, so if you need those features, get it.

The features I find glaringly missing:

- Turn navigation with gmaps. This would have been great for bikers or even hiking through a city.. without having to have your smart phone out in view of muggers.

- A proper IFTTT app. There are atleast 3 ways of getting this done via IFTTT's webhooks.. but I still havnt figured that out yet. would have been so much simpler to just have a dedicated app.

- After finding it invaluable I wound up getting my wife one too!
- Since Fitbit is a popular brand, there are tons of excellent 3rd party accessories available online!
(not a specific product link)

UPDATE December 2019:
My Fitbit Versa Lite just got an update that lets you store 5 watch-faces on your watch itself.. so you can swap watch-faces directly on the watch.