With smartphones and tablets having conquered our digital life, the next set of digital devices will be the ones we wear. With every sort of wearable from the entry-level Mi Band to the top-end FitBit Charge HR now available in India, a California-based startup founded by Indian entrepreneurs aims to offer the perfect fitness band. Here is a look at the second version of the GoQii Band.
GOQii aims to put a traditional activity tracker on your wrists and a fitness coach on the hotline to eventually spin out a holistic fitness tracking experience. The idea is great, the execution still falls short.
Price: Rs 3,999 (3-month plan)
Watch video below: (App users click here)
Setting up the GOQii band is fairly simple. Download the GOQii app on your smartphone, sign up with your email or social logins and activate the band using the activation code provided with the product. You then need to feed your height, weight and date of birth for the app to get its algorithm right. With the activation done, the software starts pairing with the device and you might be prompted to turn the display ON by tapping the ‘+’ sign. Once paired, the app directly starts recording the data.
The tracker is just like any other fitness band available in the market. It comprises of a core which houses all the sensors and a strap. While some fitness trackers come with variable size straps, GOQii has kept one that works for most users.
Like other fitness bands, the action center is the core. The core features a small OLED display upfront with a ‘+’ sign atop. Pressing or tapping this ‘+’ sign activates the display. The display shows time, date, battery, step count, distance walked in hours and kilometers, calories burned and karma points (more on this later).
One of the short ends of the core features the magnetic pins that charge the device when connected to the supplied charger.
The strap features a two-tone colour treatment – black on top and red at the bottom. GOQii calls this Persistence Red + Black but for my eyes with three diopter of nearsightedness, it always seemed Orange. Further the band features some design element representing GOQii in Red (or Orange?). While this definitely makes the band look sporty, it fails to give an upmarket look.
The band is water-resistant and splash proof. While taking a shower with the band won’t cause much damage, swimming with it should definitely be avoided. It is compatible with devices running Android 4.3 or higher, iOS version 7 or higher and Windows Phone 8.1. The pairing happens via Bluetooth Low Energy mode. The battery lasted me for nearly two days and the band charges in well under three hours, not something to be proud of when FitBits can easily last a week.
Naturally, the core functioned really well. It was pretty much accurate while tracking my steps, converting the same metrics into distance covered. My Mi Band always calculated more steps than GOQii, which led to understand that GOQii uses more precisioned motion tracking sensor and has fused algorithms to track the numbers. While this was good, it sometimes miscalculated my steps even while I was in an auto-rickshaw.
I am also a little captious about this device. My apartment is at fourth floor and lack of elevators make it mandatory for me to climb stairs. The lack of an altimeter makes it impossible for me to know the amount of steps I have climbed.
While the Mi Band automatically understood when I fell asleep, here you have to tell the Band to switch between sleep and wake modes. Long pressing on the ‘+’ brought up this screen. Tap twice on the screen to activate modes. This does take some getting used to. Even after having used this device for more than 15 days now, I have ended up falling asleep without informing the device.
Before talking about the app, I need to mention that the app has received two major updates in the last week and now performs way better than before.
First and foremost it is expected that the app connects to the band effortlessly. It wasn’t the case in my very first day with the band. I tried uninstalling and downloading the app and it worked. In my two weeks of using this band, I have carried out the aforesaid exercise more than 10 times.
At the end of my first week with the band, I received an email from Vishal Gondal – CEO of GOQii asking about my experience. I wrote about my terrible experience with the app and was told about the app update coming. Since that last update, I feel things have better from worst but still a lot can be done.
The updated app puts all the data right at the centre. The top shows Home and a small icon of your assigned Coach – that lets you easily chat and share any kind of activity details. Clicking on Home leads you to settings and other social features. The same can also be accessed by swiping in from the left.
Below it shows your picture, friends (if any using GOQii), Karma points and band status. This is followed by your active steps, calories burned, sleep cycle and water consumed. At the bottom is a big ‘+’ sign covered under a RED circle. Clicking on this ‘+’ sign gives you option to log weight,activity, food, water or sleep.
The Coach and Social angle
This is the one of the most distinguishing feature of GOQii. You are assigned a coach (who is human and not a bot). Interestingly, the coach is picked by the user and I selected someone whose profile read fitness and lifestyle modification.
For the first few days, I logged my regular diet, steps and sleep. Based on this, I set out a goal of gaining weight. The coach modified my breakfast, my sleep cycle accordingly and I went from 8000 steps to 10000 steps a day. The coach also suggested me to add few extra protein ingredients over weekend which does help.
The coach experience is something GOQii has got right. The coach knows a lot about healthy lifestyle and can be really useful for people who are super busy and need someone to connect over chat and help balance everything. While I haven’t gained weight, I definitely feel much healthier than before.
Also on tap is a feature called Karma points which is kind of a stack of cash you give back to society. For every 390 steps, GOQii rewards users with one karma point. Once accumulated, the same can be given to social causes. But there are only two causes at the moment.
Should you buy?
A great hardware with a poor software or a poor hardware with right software experience can never succeed in this new digital age. GOQii seems to be still in this niche. While they are doing their best to improve the software experience, it’s still not there with the likes of FitBit or Jawbone. Even, the locally developed HeathifyMe app does a good job and they too offer coaches.
If you are looking for a band that tracks your steps, then you can simply download Jawbone’s app on your smartphone and let the accelerometer sensor do the rest. If you are looking for an added sleep tracker, look no further than the Mi Band. But if you want all of this and an helping hand of a coach, GOQii band is undoubtedly your best option.
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