A Fitness Tracker Shouldn’t Make You Feel Like Trash

A Fitness Tracker Shouldn’t Make You Feel Like Trash

I can’t figure out who, exactly, Amazon’s Halo Band is designed for. The screen-free band works in the background to track your activity and sleep, and it also has microphones to listen in on your conversations and analyze your tone. There is some appeal to a screen-free wearable that can cut down the distractions in your life while also giving you useful health data. Whoop does this well. But Halo Band is not a very good fitness tracker, and its two other flagship features require you to use your phone, rendering the screen-free thing pretty moot. And making you feel pretty awful in the process.

After a few weeks of wearing the Halo Band to track my sleep and activity, eavesdrop on my conversations, and measure my body fat, I have come to the conclusion that this is a fitness band for no one.
The $100 Halo Band has three flagship features: activity-tracking, tone analysis, and body fat measurements. I’ll dive into the latter two, which are bizarre at best and problematic at worst, in a minute, but first I wanted to figure out if Amazon’s first wearable was capable at its first job: monitoring movement and sleep.

The Halo Band reminds me of old Fitbits in that it’s designed to be totally unobtrusive. But where early generations of Fitbit bands excelled at tracking your heart rate and your activity without much intervention, Amazon’s wearable is so basic as to be almost useless. The band’s built-in optical heart rate sensor and accelerometer chug along in the background to log your exercise, so you don’t have to manually start a workout. But where Fitbit’s auto-tracking feature can differentiate between different types of workouts, Amazon’s band can only pinpoint whether you’re walking, running, or doing some generic activity that gets your heart rate pumping. It then scores that activity with points that are based on recommendations from the American Heart Association. Amazon says users should aim for 150 points per week. You’re supposed to experiment with activities, both on your own and using “labs” from third-party partners like Orangetheory Fitness or Aaptiv, to see which types of workouts score the most points.

The labs are essentially workout videos, which are fine to good depending on which partner is offering them. (I personally find Aaptiv’s audio-guided workouts pointless because I need to see poses demonstrated, but some people like them.) To boost your activity points, you can enroll in a program—say, a four-week yoga course—and receive reminders that you schedule ahead of time to actually take the classes. You can also choose workout classes a la carte, and filter by exercise types—cardio, outdoor, strength, and yoga—class length, or which service they’re offered on…Read more>>