Withings, a Balance of Technology & Design
Believe it or not, smartwatches have been around for years. Before 2015, there was the Seiko TV Watch (1982), Nike+ Fuelband (2012), Sony Smartwatch (2012), Moto 360 (2014), and Samsung Gear S (2014), among a handful of others. It was only until Apple released their own smartwatch that people became more aware of the industry.
With so many companies competing for your attention, it’s understandably hard to choose a smartwatch that fits your budget, offers compatibility across platforms and a huge amount of features, and looks sleek and elegant all at the same time. Is there truly a smartwatch that fits that description?
Withings is a company that prioritizes long term health and everyday well-being. They create smart products and apps that fit into any lifestyle, letting you track what matters to you. They offer a number of fitness products, from smart watches, bands, scales, and others.
We had a chat with iOS Developer and technology aficionado Mr. Ronie Amata about his experience using the Withings Activité Pop Edition, from receiving it in the mail to making it a part of his everyday routine.
MyBicol: Good morning Mr. Ronie! How are you feeling today?
Ronie: So far, so good, and I think will be better on the coming days.
MB: Great! So, you recently bought Withings’ Activité Pop Smartwatch. How did you go about the choosing process?
Ronie: It is both an activity tracker and an analog watch. An analog watch! These two things had me sold, flat.
I saw it first on a tech website in 2014. It had a classic, minimalistic design that at first glance, you’d have never suspected it would have other uses aside from telling time. It looked gorgeous and I wanted it. I really wanted it!
But, as much as I wanted to have it on my wrist, I knew I couldn’t. It’s made of premium leather and Sapphire glass (second-hardest material after the diamond) and it is expensive!
Fast forward to 2015, they released another device called Withings Activité Pop. Same design and same features with the previous. The key differences are the materials used (I am okay with that) and its new, affordable price (thankfully enough). I bought one during the Black Friday sale.
Even before I got the device, I’d been using its companion app. It can work without the wearable device and by itself, it can track my step count, and I can also check my heart rate by placing my index finger on the camera.
Without the wearable device, the app has its highs and lows. It requires you to have your phone with you so it can track your movements. Due to this, movement tracking was not accurate and had some gaps in-between activities.
MB: How did it feel on your wrist when you first used it?
Ronie: Looks good and feels light on my wrist. I picked the Shark Grey version and it is suitable to wear on almost all occasions. It tracks the quality of my sleep as well.
The watch can track my activity (in terms of step) and sleep. All I have to do is to wear the device on my wrist. It automatically identifies my activities based on my movements and I get to see the detailed information through its companion app.
MB: Was it hard to setup and pair with the app?
Ronie: To setup the watch on the app for the first time of use is easy – all you need to do is run the companion app. A guide will help you through the process. With a few scrolls and taps, the watch is ready for use.
It is also easy for you to pair it with the phone. Turn on the bluetooth and run the app. Once connected, it will sync in the background. It will also automatically connect to your phone once you go near it.
MB: Tell us about its functions. Does it live up to what Withings claims it to be able to do? What activities have you tried it with?
Ronie: The Activité Pop tracks my activities without me consciously worrying about my phone. According to Withings, you can have it with you without syncing on your phone for up to 36 hours, and does so when it’s near your device. What I always do is to sync it manually after a day of use.
For me, regular syncing with the app is not a must. The watch has an activity indicator mark from 0 to 100. The figure serves as the percentage of the step goal you set. It shows how far you’ve achieved your goal. Some researches suggest that a 7 to 10k daily step count will be good for one’s health. I set mine to 10k.
Another thing that I like about this device is the battery life. It can work up to 8 months of use before you need to recharge the battery. This is really long in terms of how other trackers can. Some devices can last up to a day to a week of use, before you charge. I’ve been using my Withings for almost 4 months now.
Other than the steps and sleep, the device can also serve as a swim tracking device as it is water resistant up to 50 meters. Other activity trackers are only splash proof. So for this watch, you don’t have to worry about getting it wet in the shower or pool. It is designed to remain safe and sturdy within water. I’ve only been able to try it in a pool setting though.
You can also use this as an alarm. The configuration is set on the app. The alarm can be set on a day or repeatedly for a day/s in week. Once the alarm kicks, the watch vibrates. Creating subtle way of saying “hey, its time”. However, I almost always don’t use this feature.
MB: Did the watch make you more health conscious/motivate you to live healthier? How?
Ronie: Looking at the information seen on the app, I’ve become more conscious about my physical activity and sleep pattern – as of now, I can hardly reach my step goal for the day! To add more steps, instead of riding the elevator in the mornings, I always try using the stairs up to the 4th floor. I also join my work mates in walking after office hours, which leads to an additional 2-kilometer walk to what i do during weekdays.
MB: Is there anything you’d like to change or add to its features for future releases?
Ronie: Glare and light. Under the sun, you will find it hard to look at the time because of the reflection on the glass. Hope to see a less glaring iteration of this. Also, low-to-no light. The watch doesn’t have a “glow in the dark” or “backlight” feature, so if you are somewhere dark or outside at night, you will find it hard to check the time. It would be a great revision on the next release.
MB: If you were to recommend Withings to our readers, what would you say to pique their interest?
Ronie: So far, I can say I am very pleased with this product. I recommend this wearable device to those who still admire the look and feel of a classic watch. From work to play, it fits with my everyday use. It feels almost unnoticeable on my wrist, even though one can be sure that while you’re wearing it, Withings Activité Pop is doing its job. •
Ronie Amata is currently an iOS Developer at Nueva Caceres Technology Solutions Incorporated. Loves to photograph still life and is an all-out biker and swimmer. Believes in simplicity over complexity. Won’t be caught dead eating anything spicy.