The Fitbit Versa – early thoughts

I’ve just bought the latest smart watch offering from Fitbit, the Fitbit Versa.

I’ve been a big fan of smart watches, my first being the original Pebble watch which I bought back in 2013. I’ve also owned the follow up Pebble watch, an original Apple Watch, an Apple Watch series 2 and now the Fitbit Versa. In between these , I’ve also owned various fitness bands including the UP bands and various Fitbit hardware.

I’ll say from the outset that in my opinion, overall the Apple Watch is by far the best smart watch on the market for most people. Whilst it falls short of being a outstanding health tracker, it makes up for it in general functionality. Some of its features are unrivalled including the ability to make and receive calls, send sms/ messages and also watchOS has a plethora of supported third party apps.

So why did I get the Versa? Three reasons :

1. It’s a far better health tracker than the Apple Watch. Aside from more accurate step monitoring, the Versa is an outstanding sleep tracker (one of my areas of interest). Apple Watch has been non existent in this space. Some third party apps support it , but the data is inaccurate and nowhere near the accuracy of Fitbit ie REM, light and deep sleep detection.

2. Cross platform: I hate being locked into Apple’s ecosystem. I’ll be moving back to Android soon as a primary device and I want to be able to use my versa with it.

3. Two becomes one: until I bought the Vera , I was using a Fitbit Flex (for steps and sleep) and an Apple Watch. Now I’ll just be able to use a single watch. Which, by the way, is a much lighter and compact form factor compared to the Apple Watch .

So far so good. I’m very happy with the Versa. Time will tell (no pun intended) which device wins out for me. Currently I’m missing some of the Siri features from Apple Watch (such as voice controlled timers and Apple Pay) but there’s no doubt the heath tracking features are far better on the Versa.

The future of Sonos

For the first time ever I’m beginning to question the strategy behind Sonos. This was always a company on the bleeding edge of innovation and I’m genuinely concerned about their future. The signs are there:

  1. They promised integration with Amazon Echo over a year ago – there’s still no sign of even the beta software update.
  2. Amazon have innovated and, in my opinion, overtaken Sonos in terms of features in their Echo range of products. They release updates weekly, support more and more third party services and are just simply easier to use. Only just last week they quietly rolled out a group feature – enabling speakers to be listened to at the same time.
  3. The reliability of my Sonos network has deteriorated lately. Unreliable internet is no longer a problem on my network – so that’s ruled out. But I’m finding that radio (TuneIn) frequently drops out and speakers struggle to connect to my music library at times.
  4. The app is hard to use. It’s something I’ve long been critical of, but in an era of voice commands the interface is feeling tired and awkward to use.

I love sonos and have been an advocate for years. I’ve even been an official tester of their software (under a NDA). However, I’m concerned about what’s going on with the company. With the growth of Amazon Echo and undoubtedly the future success of Apple HomePod, Sonos needs to nail their Echo integration as soon as possible and combine it with a major tech overhaul.
Having quality speakers is not an argument anymore for them – I’d argue that’s made them complacent. The Amazon Echo approach is based on flexibility. For example they allow the speakers to be paired with any Bluetooth speaker you want (getting around the speaker quality issues). Plus, there are already reports coming in that Apple’s HomePod sounds superior to the Sonos Play 5 flagship speaker.

I hope I am wrong to be this concerned. I also hope the Sonos upcoming October announcement offers up something special. But for the time being I’m not buying any more Sonos speakers until their future becomes a bit more clear.

Why my iPhone 6plus will be my last iPhone…

For years now, I’ve judged the various iPhones I’ve owned as offering value for money. Yes, they are expensive but I’ve always felt that price guaranteed quality hardware and outstanding software that work seamlessly together. Now I’m not so sure that’s the case. 
Two things have changed my thinking. Firstly the almost certain likelihood that the next iPhone 7 will loose the 3.5mm headphone jack. 

No matter what the arguments from Apple are for doing this – it’s a ridiculous decision. It’s very simple. If this rumour turns out to be true – I’m out. Permanently. 

Secondly, is something more fundamental. I no longer feel the iPhone offers value compared to some of the new low-cost but exceptionally priced handsets such as the outstanding OnePlus 3. 
My iPhone 6plus may very well be my last.