Professionally, I work with teams supporting technology in fast-moving organizations. Personally, I’m focused on productivity and organization, regardless of platform. Over the years, I’ve used paper journals, Palm Pilots, standalone desktop programs and collaboration tools for group organization. The tool is just a tool, it’s the habits and disciplines that ensure productivity.
I’ve resisted wearing a smart watch up until now as most of my productivity workflow nowadays is focused on my smartphone, Google Tasks for high-level tracking and a Bullet Journal for day-to-day note taking. I’ve written about using a Fitbit for step tracking, alarms and text notifications, but that was as far as I’d gone.
I ran across an interesting fitness tracker called a Amazfit Bip that intrigued me; it addressed all of the concerns I had about smart watches – and it’s significantly cheaper than any other smart fitness tracker I’d seen..
- Cross-platform? I go back and forth between an iPhone and an Android phone. I wanted something that worked with both – unlike the Apple Watch.
- Battery life? I didn’t want to be tied to a watch that I had to recharge every night. The Bip advertises a 30+ day battery life.
- A watch that you have to press a button to see what time it is? The Bip has an always-on setting.
- Syncing data to the cloud? There’s an app called Gadgetbridge that allows you to sync many types of fitness devices to your phone, skipping any cloud services.
- Extensible? There’s a list of projects on GitHub focused on extending the platform.
The Bip is a small watch, 38 mm x 32 mm, and weighs 32 grams. It’s a slight watch, barely registering as a watch after wearing a Seiko 5 diver’s watch, a massive chunk of metal for the past 12 years.. There’s one button on the side, and a touch screen interface. You swipe up, down, left and right and use the button as a back button.
On first impression, it reminds me of a Pebble watch; the graphics are blocky, the case is plastic, and the overall feel reminds me of a Pebble – in a good way. I barely notice that it’s there.
Activity tracking is nice, you can track running, cycling, treadmill and walking, and it will calculate the calories burned more effectively than just tracking steps. No swimming, it’s IP68 certified water resistant, but more splashproof than waterproof. What’s surprising for a watch this small is to have a 3-axis accelerometer, GPS and GLONASS radios.
In addition, it features multiple alarms, a countdown timer, compass, barometer, altimeter and GPS displays.
Notifications are nice – the Bip supports text messaging and application push messages.
Phone handling is nice, too – there’s the ability to answer or decline a call from the watch, and ringing is almost instantaneous. With the Fitbit flex, there was a 1 to 2 ring delay.
Battery drain is negligible; I’m on track to get about 20 days of battery life out of its first charge.