Jawbone UP: Needs one more feature

by Thomas Brady

Seems like one of the hit products this Christmas will be the UP, by Jawbone. You can Google for yourself lots of reviews, and even more discussions of whether you should get the UP or the fitbit.

The bracelet design of the UP, and its vibration reminders — it vibrates to wake you at optimal times in your sleep-cycle in the morning or to remind you to get up from your desk when you’ve been sedentary for too long — reminded me of a product I’d hoped for around 5 years ago, only to find someone was actually already producing it. The awfully named “Bluetooth Vibrating Bracelet,” which vibrates to tell you that your phone is ringing. I bought one. It didn’t work. They shipped a replacement. It didn’t work either. I would have assumed user-error at this point, but I was following the instructions to the T. I had a friend try. The shoddy craftsmanship (lots of dangling rubber bits leftover from the injection-molding) and very low price led me to believe this was just a dead end.

The thing is, I hate ringtones. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard or read, “Hell is other people’s ringtones.” The truth is, hell is any ringtone. I’ve had my ringer off for about 6 years. About 60% of the time this is no problem, as I can feel my phone vibrating in my pocket. It seems, though, that 100% of the very important calls I receive, though, fall into the 40% of calls that I don’t detect.

Jawbone as a brand is basically equivalent to bluetooth products. They’re known primarily for making bluetooth headsets. Recently they’ve made a big splash with the Jambox, a portable bluetooth speaker (and speakerphone). The UP might be the first Jawbone product I’ve seen that doesn’t make use of bluetooth. Battery-life might likely have been prohibitive, with such a small device, but it seems to me that adding a vibrating phone call alert feature to the UP would have been a killer feature, something to end all the fitbit-versus-UP discussions.

Perhaps the next version of the UP?