Jawbone just launched two new fitness tracking bands: the $99 mid-tier UP2 and the $199 high-end UP4, that you can also use to make payments via NFC.
Jawbone’s got a new fitness tracker ready to replace its recently discontinued Up24. The $99 Up2, available beginning today, is meant to be Jawbone’s “mid-range” device — it sits between the basic $50 Jawbone Move which can be tossed in your pocket and the $179 flagship Up3 (which also has a heart rate sensor). It also doesn’t have the built-in American Express-only NFC payment support found in the just announced $200 UP4
Designed by Yves Behar, the Up2 includes pretty much all of the features from last year’s Up24, just in a more stylish and 45 percent smaller frame. Jawbone says it’ll last seven days on a charge, is splash-resistant, and can be taken in the shower without any problems. The Up2’s sensors are now shielded by an aluminum shell, but aside from this and other refinements to its size and design, you’re basically looking at the same essentials that went into the Up24. Jawbone’s latest fitness device will track your sleep patterns, daily activity, and it can vibrate to remind you of an alarm or urge you to get moving after you’ve been sitting too long.
But more than the new hardware, Jawbone is really putting the focus on its smartphone apps and Smart Coach. Smart Coach is the company’s health system that offers personalized tips on improving your sleep, diet, and being more active. For instance, if it notices you tend to have a higher step count after a good night’s rest, Smart Coach will likely encourage you to head to bed earlier to keep that progress going. It’s all a bit more helpful if you’re using the Up3, since that fitness tracker also monitors your resting heart rate and can go deeper into analyzing sleep habits thanks to its added sensors. But Jawbone thinks the Up2 will be a fine entry point into greater fitness awareness for many people. You can order one in black starting today at Jawbone’s web store, Amazon, and Best Buy. (Best Buy will begin stocking them in stores this Sunday.) A grey model and other color options will follow in the future. With this introduction, Jawbone’s device lineup now consists of the Jawbone Move, Up2, Up3, and the newly announced Up4.
The $199 UP4 is an upgraded version of the Up3 (which is finally, only now about to start shipping,) that adds an NFC chip necessary to pay on the go. The ability to double as a mobile wallet is usually reserved for pricier smartwatches like the Apple Watch and smartphones themselves. But Jawbone seems to think that its wrist-worn health trackers are the perfect vehicle for NFC payments.
The thinking behind this seems to be that since runners and other athletes often try to carry as little around with them as possible, it shouldn’t take much to convince them to ditch their wallet. But Jawbone’s entry into the mobile payments business has one big limitation: only American Express cardholders can use it. The company has partnered closely with AmEx on the new feature. Existing members will be able to use their regular account credentials to link their card with the Up4, but everyone else will be able to apply for an American Express card and (potentially) receive instant approval. But it’s not exactly seamless; after registering your card with Jawbone’s app, you’ll have to jump over to the AmEx app to see recent transaction history and other account details, and Jawbone says this split is meant to protect sensitive customer data.
And both companies say they’re taking security seriously; like Apple Pay, AmEx’s system uses tokenization to hide your true credit card number from merchants and replace it with a different one dedicated to mobile payments. And while it’s theoretically as fast, Jawbone’s system doesn’t sound nearly as elegant as Apple’s. Since there’s no screen or any kind of speaker on Up4, you’ll be relying solely on a store’s payment terminal to verify that the NFC transaction went through.
The ability to pay with a tap is reserved exclusively for proper American Express credit card holders, with no prepaid alternative available for people with a spotty credit record. Meanwhile, Apple is regularly adding to the already sizable list of banks and credit card companies behind Apple Pay. Jawbone is unlikely to match that anytime soon, but if you’re an American Express holder and you really want to buy things with your wrist, you’ll soon be able to do it for a couple hundred bucks — and get what sounds like a pretty decent health tracker as part of the deal.