The fitbit stinks, but I miss it

Last post was comparing some data on the Fitbit Charge HR and the Apple Watch with a little bit of Withings app iOS tracking in for good measure. Since that time, I have been relying primarily on the Apple Watch. Why? Because I paid much more for it. On top of that, I needed to use the Fitbit I was wearing for research purposes, and I try to be very cheap with my research expenses and use whatever equipment I have on hand (or on wrist). So the Fitbit Charge HR that I use most often is currently living elsewhere and hopefully generating interesting data for some of the research I do with kids (self promotion: see out of date publications page).

Also, the Fitbit stunk. Literally. I know this is a known issue, but my wrist and the device itself smelled bad. I stopped wearing it at night so it could 'air out'. I've tried cleaning it with rubbing alcohol with a cotton swab and various other things. The result: a bracelet that smells like alcohol and still slightly stinks. My father, to whom I had sent a Fitbit Charge for a past parent appreciation holiday, called me once to ask about how to deal with the smell.

I don't think it's too much to ask for a device that is easier to clean or more smell resistant.  I was getting pretty tempted to start Febrezing that thing. I gave it a super duper aggressive cleaning and a period of no skin contact for cleaning before we got it circulating in research again, so hopefully the gross factor decreased some.

With all that said, I have to say that I really prefer the Fitbit for activity tracking. It's been striking to me how much less often I check my stats on my Apple Watch. We've ascertained from the last post that it does a reasonable job tracking, albeit it undercounts some. But consider the difference here and understand why I miss wearing the Fitbit.

To check steps on the Fitbit:

  •  I raise my wrist. With the latest Fitbit firmware, the accelerometer can tell my arm has gone up and it displays the time (way to copy Apple on that one)
  • I press the button on the side once, and I see my steps.

To check steps on the Apple Watch:

  • I raise my wrist. A half second later, the watch face loads and then my nice jellyfish motion show begins.
  • I actually want to check steps, so I swipe upwards to go to my shortcuts. I slide leftward from the heart rate screen, which I guess was the one I checked last, and realize I am going the wrong direction becauseI go to the settings shortcut which is the left edge of the options. I swipe 3 times the other way and go to the weird bullseye concentric ring thing that tells me I haven't exercise enough today (Stop shaming me, you expensive but beautiful device!)
  • I press on the bullseye and it takes me to the watch app for the bullseye (the activity tracker).
  • I then swipe upward and get a display of steps, calories, and distance. 
  • Phew! luckily I did this quickly enough before the display went to sleep!

OR, I could have done this:

  • I raise my wrist. A half second later, the watch face loads and then my nice jellyfish motion show begins.
  •  I press the crown. It takes me to the weird fisheye display of all the installed watch apps. It's kind of creepy. There was that internet thing about surfaces with lots of tiny holes on them that freaked people out. It reminds me of that. It also reminds me of the second boss in the old Sega game Altered Beast that had a bunch of eyeballs and would fire those at you. Of course, the beast power was flying dragon and you just go up to the eyeball monster and go all Blanka-electric shock over and over and over again and that becomes the shortest and easiest boss fight ever since King Hippo in Mike Tyson's Punch Out.
  •  I scan the many eyeball buttons, and while I ought to remember that the activity tracker is just to the bottom left of the watch face app by default, I forget and spend precious milliseconds looking (and also getting confused by the app that you can use a timer to track a specific exercise - but use a completely separate app to do so). I press it.
  • I then swipe upward and get a display of steps, calories, and distance. 
  • Phew! luckily I did this quickly enough before the display went to sleep!

The number of steps involved are much higher in both Apple Watch scenarios. That's pretty annoying. Even one extra step is annoying, let along 3 or more. (Yes, I know being grateful for avoiding display shut off is not a step, but I am trying to work against the clock). People who think about user experience know even 1 or 2 extra steps can be a deal breaker. We just do not have the patience for those steps, and the opportunity for error goes up really quickly.

Don Norman, author of required reading in many design and HCI courses and current head of the UCSD Design Lab, wrote a little rant about how Apple lost its user experience way. He is right. This experience, while pretty to look at and neat to have possible, is pretty annoying compared to 'press the button once' on the Fitbit. But what do I know? And why do I stick with the Apple Watch? (oh, right, cause I paid a lot of money for it, and the Fitbit is being used by someone else for work, and it makes my wrist smell bad - market opportunity for teeny tiny sticks of deodorant, anyone?).

PS - I know there is a watch face that has a one touch access to the steps, calories, distance screen. The problem is that it is ugly, and it does not have jellyfish. This is the problem with the limited watch faces.  

I'll consider posting about something besides a wearable doohickey soon. As a parting image, here is that eyeball monster from Altered Beast I was talking about.

this image came from a website dedicated to nut shots (which is a strange thing that to have, but having stuff like this was the entire point of creating the Internet, right?) http://www.sodahead.com/fun/best-nut-shot/question-3251747/

this image came from a website dedicated to nut shots (which is a strange thing that to have, but having stuff like this was the entire point of creating the Internet, right?)

http://www.sodahead.com/fun/best-nut-shot/question-3251747/