As I have said a couple of times before I use a Fitbit to record my steps and have toyed with Misfit on my Pebble when that became available. My issue was that the gap in number of steps recorded was too great. So when Pebble Health was released I was keen to see whether this might finally be a replacement for my faithful Fitbit.
Pebble Health is a native watch app that does all the same step and sleep tracking as other fitness trackers such as Fitbit and the on-Pebble Misfit. Difference being that as this is developed by Pebble themselves it looks and feels very much like the rest of the system with the quirky graphics which I really like.
How does it compare?
Once again I ran the Thompson’s completely unscientific test to see how close the step counting was between the Fitbit flex, Misfit (as an app on the Pebble) and Pebble Health. Pebble don’t recommend running multiple fitness trackers on the watch simultaneously but in my testing this didn’t make any difference either to the steps counted or to the battery life.
The graph below shows the number of steps counted over approximately a one month period and, as you can see, they all followed the same trend but the total number of step recorded was highest on the Fitbit, followed by Pebble Health and bringing up the rear, Misfit. So in terms of reaching my daily goal of 10,000 steps it is definitely easier to do with the FitBit.
Initially I was surprised that there was a difference between Pebble Health and Misfit given that they are using the same accelerometer but apparently each software has its own algorithm that is used to calculate the steps.
The Health app on the watch has several useful screens including showing you the number of steps today and a comparison against what is typical, another showing the last weeks steps which you can step through (pun intended) to get the total for each day. There are also screens for sleep tracking but given I don’t use that I can’t add much.
One of the great features of the Fitbit is that when you meet your tracking goal it lights up like a Christmas tree and I get a warm glow inside. The Misfit app on the Pebble also displays a trophy when you meet your goal. Pebble Health? Nothing. Nada. Occasionally I get some words of encouragement but I can only remember it happening three times in the whole time I have been using Pebble Health and that’s a shame.
Get me out of here
One of the things I like about the Fitbit is that I can connect it to other services and record my data and keep it forever. So I send data to Exist.io which looks for correlations with other data sent to it and to Evernote as a permanent record. With Pebble Health the data is (currently) locked tightly away on the watch and it is (difficult) to get out. The caveats in the previous statement are because there is an api and with a separate watch app you can send the data to a third party source. It works but it is a pain to do as you have to remember to select the watch app to send the data and that isn’t going to happen. No doubt at some point someone will develop an app that syncs the data to a third party source (hopefully Pebble themselves) but right now it is too much of a Frankenstein solution to work reliably.
A health app developed by Pebble itself is an exciting prospect and on the watch itself it works well but, for me, it still doesn’t offer everything that I want in order for it to replace my Fitbit but that day is edging closer.
- looks and feels like the rest of the watch app
- designed and built by Pebble so should be maintained going forward
- algorithm records lower steps than Fitbit so have to do more to reach 10,000 each day (you might see this as an encouragement)
- only very occasionally see the messages of encouragement or message telling me I have reached my goal
- data locked on device