Phil Nickinson

I have absolutely no idea how it happened, but January is quickly coming to close. And that means February -- and Mobile Nations Fitness Month -- is nearly upon us. Last year was a dismal failure. OK, maybe not "dismal" -- I'm not sure I failed at it anymore than I've failed at anything else I didn't actually really do. We're going to give it another shot this year, never mind that I'll be on the road at least two weeks of an already short month.

Last year I tried a Fitbit. But that damned little pedometer was just too damned little. I have no idea where it went. So this year I'm going to try a Nike Fuel Band. I haven't warn a watch in years -- sitting in front of a computer all day, with clocks on walls and a smartphone in my pocket made strapping a timepiece on my arm a redundant proposition. So this semi-rigid bracelet has taken some getting used to, and it's extremely annoying when trying to type on a laptop. Maybe that says more about my typing posture. I dunno.

We still don't have a proper Android app for the Fuel Band. But Nike recently released some APIs, so let's hope apps like Endomondo take advantage of them.

Anyhoo. Mobile Nations Fitness Month is right around the corner. Hopefully I'll do a little better with it this year. And hopefully a few of you will come along for the ride.

And now, a few quick thoughts to start the week.

Fakes, leaks and fan fiction

We're getting into that part of the year in which fan renders and fake photos seem to be coming out of the woodwork. That's fine, I guess, if that's your thing. But it's worth remembering that companies are still capable of surprising us. The Samsung Galaxy S3 did a pretty good job of staying under cover before its unveiling. NVIDIA's Project Shield sneaked up on everyone. Even HTC managed to get a couple phones announced under the radar in 2012.

But as Alex pointed out last week, sometimes a render is just a render. Sometimes they're fake. And sometimes they're intentionally misleading. 

Remember the Galaxy S3?

I miss using the Galaxy S3, I think. Yes, I still disapprove of having a physical home button -- but that doesn't mean I have to reject the entire phone. Samsung made a hell of a device there. Here's to hoping its user interface catches up with the quality of its hardware and the depth of its software features.

The Galaxy Note is still just too big for me. But it's incredible how many you see in public these days. 

Marketing in 2013

It's not sexy, I know, but I'm really curious to see what HTC does on the marketing side over the next year or so. Remember that some execs changed hats toward the end of last year. And ask anyone who plays with phones for a living, and they'll tell you that product has largely not been HTC's problem -- it's been perception and marketing and some missteps on a strategic level. (OK, and maybe some software issues.)

On the other hand, can anyone short of Microsoft keep up with the ridiculous amount of money that Samsung's thrown at its products on the marketing side? How do you combat that if your wallet's not as fat? Smaller, targeted campaigns?


I'm still asking myself why I'm underwhelmed in the tablet space. That's not to say there aren't some really good ones out there -- and there are some really good ones on the way, I'm sure. But the experiences all just seem the same. I really want to sees someone try something new.

And with that, on goes the Fuel Band. See y'all Monday.


Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: Fitness month cometh


Fitness on Android will always be a 'failure' until Android plays catch up with BLE and ANT+. Until then we are stuck with a small subset of apps and precious little accessory support. You can get ANT+ now using a workaround but it is less than ideal. There is little wonder the enabled fitness market is rapidly expanding and leaving Android behind.

I miss my galaxy s3 as well! Nexus 4 is fine but I really do long for that phone sometimes. Think about switching back all the time but might as well just wait for the galaxy s4 I suppose.

+9000 I feel the same way: I keep seeing deals on Craigslist, but it makes sense to just hold out for a few more months.

why do you guys miss your s3s? Even better hardware and stock android on the nexus 4 does not have you spoiled?

I wasn't lucky enough to get a Nexus 4 lol. However, for starters, the battery life on my Galaxy Nexus makes me want to punch a speeding car in the face. Also, the screen isn't as big or as bright as the S3. The S3 had great battery life, and I actually liked Touchwiz (this version of it anyway). This is my first Nexus device, and I'm still adjusting to stock Android. The experience isn't flawless, but this phone was a steal for the price. I'm looking forward to dual-booting Ubuntu when that time comes =)

I like it though; as soon as I see it, I know who's writing the comment, and based on your comments over the year I know I like to read your opinion/commentary on things, so it sticks out at me, flagging me down to say "stop scrolling, read this comment!". Also any annoyance you may give someone was just completely obliterated by your "...makes me want to punch a speeding car in the face" comment above, which, when actually trying to picture you attempting to punch a speeding car in its "face", really made my night. Thanks! :-D

Hey Phil, supposedly that nike thing works with the Lose It app which I am addicted to right now and I've already lost a couple pounds! That's without even exercising, do I have your attention now? Give it a shot!

I'm an S3 owner so maybe it's just what I'm used to but I really don't like the look and feel of some other Android UIs. I played with a Sony Xperia J yesterday and it felt pretty lame and outdated to me. HTC IMO has the slickest UI but loses out on some of the awesome Samsung features. I can live with the physical button but I'm not a fan, just seems pointless.

What do you mean by "sees someone try something new"?

You talking about the hardware or software?

I'd say Nvidia are bringing something new to the table on both fronts.

"You talking about the hardware or software?"

I'd say both. Asus and Samsung are the only Android OEMs that have made "decent" tablets. And, although they have unique offerings, many still feel underwhelmed by the Android tablet market, in general.

Amazon's Kindle Fire sells well, but I would hardly call it Android.

Nvidia's Project Shield is something new and refreshing, to say the least. Now, all we need is every Android OEM stepping out of the box in similar fashion, and more often.

And then, that question comes: What else can be done to Android tablets to make them unique, and well, worth it? For some reason, I think Android tablets will always carry a stigma of being underwhelming products.

I think you're right that it's a perception games, nut that begs the question "What tablet would not be underwhelming?"

I think, especially since the project butter enhancements, the iPad has lost its only real argument against Android: that the OS is more fluid. I know there's still that argument about "not all the apps look the same" but I think there's two sides to that one.

Personally, I think the Android tablet space is way ahead of Apple now, at least for someone who is more just a casual user. I would like to see something more of a standard for streaming to the TV, but that seems like it's trying to happen. I guess that's never been a huge issue for me, since I have a media center PC hooked up to the big screen at home, but I realize YMMV.

All that said, what is the Android tablet experience lacking?

When I actually stop and think about it, the Android tablet experience is not lacking polish or feature-wise. However, what it does lack is the mindshare that Apple has developed with the iPad. As an example: I visited all of the other Mobile Nations sites and noticed that they compared the OS on their respective companies' tablet offerings with older versions of Android. Many Mobile Nations delegates ended up agreeing on: What? You guessed it. The iPad is the defacto standard of tablets, and it initially came out of the gate as a polished product. It set a standard that Android tablets repeatedly and hilariously failed to meet. That sits in the minds of people when they shop around for a tablet.

I'm a little confused by all the Nike+Fuelband complaints from Android folks when a much better, more feature packed Android based alternative exists for the same price.

If you drop $149 on a Fuelband, why not get a MOTOACTV?

It is a tough sell to promote a discontinued product with no further support and minimal development/integration with other fitness platforms.

Motoactv? That thing was short-lived, almost DOA. Although, a few friends tried it out and liked it, for the most part.

The Nike+ Fitness Series is 100x Better! It's Not just the FuelBand, They have the Nike+ Running Application (Android and iOS), The Nike+ SportsBand, The Nike+Kinect game for the Xbox 360 all ties in together. It's the best fitness series I have tried and loved. There is no going back to FitBit or any other fitness Band for me. Now that Nike has opened the API to developers, We will start seeing some of our favorite fitness apps (Runkeeper, Runtastic, Cardiotrainer) integrate into the Nike+ System.

I've been looking for a fitness tracking device that would work well with Android but so far haven't found it, but technology aside, the best thing to happen to me was to set aside 70 minutes 5 days a week every week for the gym or fitness. Some days it is only 30 minutes but a time is reserved for weights, aerobics or cycling. Try this and next February there will be no dreading of Mobile fitness month. I also lost 25 pounds, defined the chest, abs, and rear, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure without meds, feel great and dare I say...look great.

Now for that app.

The best Android option is the Fitbit Flex. I have pre ordered mine. Supposed to ship in Feb. It does everything the Jawbone Up does but with an Android app. It looks much more comfortable as well. Jawbone has promised an Android app but it could be several months. There is info on the Fitbit Flex on the Fitbit site. Good Luck.

It's obvious that most of you have never used either. The Fuelband can do nothing of the things you guys complain about.

The only thing the FuelBand does is act as a pedometer and syncs with an iphone to post the results to Nike's website. If you don't have an iPhone, you have to plug it in.

The MOTOACTV is a GPS device, with a built in MP3 player with bluethooth, built in wifi and syncs with Android phones. It can adjust to multiple types of workouts, has a web site, that I agree, is not as developed as Nike's, but can do that same planning for training as Nike.

It also has Google Maps, doesn't have to be worn a watch (armband or clip on) and can display at least a dozen different set of statistics while you're working out at the same time.

Even if it were true that they've stopped development on it, right now it's 10 times what a fuelband will ever be based on the hardware inside.

And they're the same price.

Zombies Run is a really cool running app for android and i believe it is on IOS. When i bought it the price was 8 dollars but well worth it since you are hearing a story as you run. Great voice acting and what is cool is how it incorporates your music into it. plus there is zombielink which can link your runs a website where you can see a lot more information regarding your run like the path you took, average speed, when zombies started chasing you (sprint mode basically), and what items you picked up along the way that you use to upgrade your base unlocking more missions. Lots of fun

That's one of the most brilliant ideas I've heard in a long time. Sounds like they're trying to make exercising more a game, which is a great way to keep people involved. Thanks for the heads up.

I've actually never seen a Note or Note 2 used in public. Essentially all I've seen is a sh*tton of iPhone 4/4Ss (a shame, isn't it), a few iP3GSs, a few iP5s, and a few GS3s (thank goodness for that). I live in the wrong place. Sigh.

Since I bought my Note 2 a few months ago, two of my coworkers were so impressed, they went and bought their own. And we all love them :)

Does there exist a fitness app:

That uses android native look and feel
That really only tracks time and distance
That calls out time and distance at a configurable interval


I've tried endomondo. Unfortunately it looses GPS frequently.

Note that I'm using a galaxy player. So it really needs to be a lightweightapp.

But thanks for the reply.

Cardiotrainer does a pretty good job of keeping track of time and distance, but it doesn't call out any distances that I've heard.