Tag Archives: bluetooth

Apple Believes in “Magic…” Perhaps Too Much?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a couple clients reach out to me, complaining that the wireless mice that came with their brand new iMacs had “died.” Since these new mice are meant to be recharged, I explained the process of plugging them in with their included recharging cables, and letting their batteries refill, “resurrecting” the mice, as it were. I also suggested we get a backup, wired mouse for such occasions; a mouse that could be plugged in to one of the iMac’s USB ports while its wireless cousin recharged. I suggested that we could also pick up a wired keyboard, as a backup.

And then I went to the Apple Store to pick up these wired devices. To quote the poet Biz Markie, “Oh, snap! Guess what I saw!”

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All the wired devices had disappeared… like “Magic!”

I had to confirm with the Apple employee helping me out: could it be possible that they were no longer selling wired mice or keyboards?

Not only was it possible, they told me after checking their system; that’s exactly what had happened.

Unlike Apple’s controversial moves in the past (which you’re welcome to review here), this one was done without any fanfare. Nobody announced the retirement of the wired peripherals. One day they were on the store shelves; the next day, gone.

This really is a bigger deal than you’d think. Apple had included a wired mouse with every Macintosh from its first 128K model in 1984; until 25 years later, with the Mid 2009 20-inch iMac, the last to ship with a wired “Mighty Mouse.”

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No, not you! (Source: Wired.com)

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“Here I come to save the day?” Not after 2009, you don’t! (Source: Apple.com)

In October 2009, the 21.5 inch iMac would debut with an Apple Wireless Keyboard and the new, less-trademark-threatening “Magic Mouse.” It was the first time Apple gambled that new users would prefer a wireless keyboard and mouse—although the option was still available to swap out those peripherals for their wired equivalents at purchase.

The Magic Mouse connected via Bluetooth, and it took two standard AA batteries. Not long after, Apple started selling—you guessed it—AA batteries.

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Take THAT, Energizer Bunny! (Source: pindelski.org)

Not only was the Magic Mouse sleeker, but it had the same scroll functionality as the Mighty Mouse, without requiring a separate button. Indeed, the smooth scrolling surface of the Magic Mouse put the Mighty Mouse’s fussy, easily gummed-up scroll ball to shame. It was an upgrade in every sense.

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The Magic Mouse (lower) improved upon the Mighty Mouse (upper) across the board. (Source: Macworld.com)

Apple also launched the Magic Trackpad in 2010, for desktop users who preferred a laptop-like interface, as opposed to moving a mouse around on a desk. This, too, took two AA batteries. Unlike the mouse, there had never been a wired version of the Trackpad.

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The first Magic Trackpad. (Source: Amazon.com)

The tale of the keyboard was fairly straightforward. The first Apple wireless keyboard debuted in 2003, taking four AA batteries to run. Over the years, Apple was able to streamline the keyboard’s design as well, ending up in 2007 with a low-profile Aluminum model (and this one only needed three AA batteries!)

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What a difference four years make! (Source: morrick.me)

The biggest drawback to the keyboard, other than the need to replace batteries every few months, was the lack of additional USB ports. Apple’s wired USB keyboards had included extra ports on the back or sides from 1998 until 2009, when the last new wired keyboard was introduced. It was a nice feature, not having to reach around to the back of your iMac to plug in a random USB device like a flash drive (or, say, a wired mouse). But I suppose Apple’s logic was, if your keyboard is wireless, that’s one more available USB port on the back!

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An iMac keyboard, ca. 1998. Note the USB port on its side, lower-left. (Source: Pinterest.com)

Another advantage to the wired keyboard was its usability during diagnostic tests. I’ve run into many circumstances where I had to boot a Mac into Safe Mode (holding down the Shift key); Target Disk Mode (holding down “T”); or the Apple Hardware Test (holding down “D,” or sometimes “Option-D”); and a wireless keyboard just didn’t send the right signal to the computer in time.

Or how about when my own Mac mini’s Bluetooth antenna failed, and my wireless mouse and keyboard were rendered outright unusable? On that occasion, I was very glad to have a wired backup for each.

Alas, …

After the success of the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad, Apple doubled down in 2015 with the Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad 2, and the new Magic Keyboard. Unlike their wireless predecessors, these three models did away with the need for AA batteries (which Apple would stop selling in 2016). These were now sealed systems with internal batteries, rechargeable via included Lightning cables, the same as those used to charge iPhones and iPads.

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Apple’s Lightning cable. (Source: Apple.com)

It was a welcome upgrade in most cases: the Magic Keyboard was the slimmest yet, resembling the flat form factor of those found on Apple’s MacBook family of notebooks. The Magic Trackpad was wider and offered more functionality over its earlier version. And best yet, these devices did not need to go through a tedious hit-or-miss Bluetooth pairing process. Instead, one simply connected them to their computer via the included charging cables, and the device was paired, charging its battery the whole time. And while their internal batteries were charging, they could still be used—not unlike their wired equivalents from years gone by.

Except for the mouse.

For reasons known only to Apple’s Design Team, they put the charging port for the Magic Mouse 2 on the underside, rendering it unusable during pairing and charging.

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Hope you’re not planning on USING that thing while it’s charging! (Source: 9to5Mac.com)

The troubling part of this is that if an Apple user doesn’t pay attention to the mouse’s battery levels, that user could be rendered mouse-less when they need it most–as was the case of a client of mine who was in the middle of a time-sensitive writing project. We ended up getting her the Magic Trackpad 2, which she can use while it, and the mouse, are charging. I suppose there’s a sick logic on Apple’s part: instead of getting $29 for their AA battery kit back when the mouse just used AA batteries, now they got $129 for the trackpad.

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With the charging port on the back, the Magic Trackpad 2 can be used while charging. (Source: Gadgetmac.com)

So yeah, I’m not thrilled with how this went down. People shouldn’t have to buy a second pointing device to use while the other is recharging. Frankly, Apple shouldn’t be surprised if many of their users pick up an inexpensive third-party wired mouse for those occasions when the Magic Mouse runs dry.

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It may not be “Apple pretty,” but it WORKS. (Source: Amazon.com)

I’ve heard rumors that Apple’s working on wireless charging for all their devices, and I’ve even seen a mouse from Logitech that recharges wirelessly while you use it! But it’s not a perfect technology yet, and it certainly isn’t cheap. It requires a special charging mat, which still has to be plugged in somewhere.

It’s still unknown what powers Linus.

I’m also concerned by Apple’s unwavering faith in the Bluetooth standard. As I mentioned before, I had the Bluetooth go out on a Mac years ago, and I was lucky to have wired peripherals that I could rely on while troubleshooting.

It’s also not great that the rechargeable batteries aren’t removable, but Apple’s been slouching toward completely sealed systems that users can’t service for years, now. For example, the last Apple notebook with a user-removable battery was 2010’s 13-inch MacBook. I realize that ship has sailed.

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This is from Apple’s “About Mac notebook batteries” page, linked here.

It bugs me that there’s no simple solution. You can no longer request wired peripherals when buying a new iMac (the Mac mini and Mac Pro, in addition to being woefully out of date now, don’t include peripherals). It’s also too soon since the 2015 debut of the Magic Mouse 2 for them to release a new design, with a more intelligently-placed charging port.

And we’re at the mercy of Bluetooth, a technology that’s always struck me as “just good enough” since Apple first incorporated it in 2003.

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No offense, King Harald, but no technology is perfect; not even technology named after a Viking. (Source: DidYouKnowBlog.com)

Now, just watch: any day now, they’re going to release the Magic Keyboard and Mouse 3, with wireless charging and better-than-Bluetooth connectivity, and other features we can’t even imagine. After all, you can’t call it “Magic,” without having something up your sleeve!

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How I Heard My Echo

As I write this week’s post, I’m listening to Pandora Radio via my new Amazon Echo Dot. It’s that rare modern gadget that has no video display (unless I bring up the Alexa app on my iPhone or iPad), so audio quality is made even that much more essential. It was with this in mind that I decided to hook my Echo Dot up to my powerful home theater sound system… and made more work for myself, in the process.

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Connect the Dot, la la la. (Source: Amazon.com, click the image to order.)

Unlike its big siblings the Echo and the Tap, the Dot doesn’t have a very powerful built-in speaker. When Alexa (the Amazon AI assistant in the Echo) speaks to me, I can hear her just fine; but when I want to listen to music, the overall effect is underwhelming. Luckily, the Dot supports bluetooth, so beaming the audio signal to a powerful speaker system is a piece of cake. Unfortunately, my older Sony receiver doesn’t have bluetooth built in, so I needed to pick up a device to add bluetooth to my sound system.

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The Sony STR-DG820. It’s a great receiver; it just doesn’t do bluetooth. (Source: Engadget.com, click image to order from Amazon.)

Logitech makes such a device, their compact Bluetooth Audio Receiver. It plugs into a wall outlet for power, and includes a cable to connect it either to a 3.5 millimeter stereo jack, or to red and white RCA stereo jacks. I ended up using a separate red/white stereo cable set (sold separately) to go from the Logitech adapter to my Sony receiver. Once I programmed my Logitech Harmony remote to switch on the receiver and change its input to the port with the bluetooth adapter, I was able to vocally command Alexa to do the same job without my having to pick up my remote control. She ably flipped on my Sony receiver and had it switch to the proper input, leaving everything else off. The bluetooth adapter was already on (there really isn’t an “on/off” switch on that device), so playback proceeded to stream through my speakers flawlessly.

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Logitech’s Bluetooth Audio Receiver. It’s actually quite small, measuring only 0.88″ tall by 2.00″ wide by 2.25″ deep. (Source: Logitech.com, click image to order from Amazon.)

The problems only began when I turned my stereo off.

You see, when you tell Alexa to connect via bluetooth, she’s more than happy to do so. Unfortunately, asking her to switch away from bluetooth is a more challenging proposition. Since the Logitech box never turns off, it remains in a “ready to pair” mode even if a device like my Echo Dot leaves it. Alexa then sees there’s a bluetooth device out there looking to pair, and, helpful as always, she re-pairs with it. Except in this scenario, my receiver is now off, so I can’t hear Alexa through the external speakers; and since she’s using bluetooth, her internal speaker is off, too. This makes any further communication with her impossible until I turn the receiver back on. But sometimes I just want a weather forecast or a news brief, and stuff like that just doesn’t need to come out in high fidelity stereo!

The challenge I faced was how to turn the Logitech bluetooth box off so Alexa would revert to her internal speaker for non-musical conversation. Luckily, as with so many problems in my life, there was a solution, in the form of new technology. Enter TP-Link’s Smart Plug.

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TP-Link’s HS100 Smart Plug. Make sure you have room for it on your power strip or wall outlet–it’s a space hog! (Source: TP-Link.com, click image to order from Amazon.)

If I couldn’t tell Alexa to turn off the Logitech bluetooth adapter directly, then I would have to have her cut the power to it, via TP-Link’s HS100 Smart Plug. TP-Link advertises Alexa compatibility:

Amazon Echo Voice Control – Amazon Echo (sold separately) lets you control devices connected to the Smart Plugs just using your voice.

Indeed, once I had configured the Smart Plug to join my home network, I added the “Skill” (Echo’s answer to an app) for TP-Link devices in its “Kasa” service, and Alexa had no difficulty turning the Smart Plug on and off with a well-placed vocal command.

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The TP-Link Kasa app in action, controlling their Smart Plug. (Source: eBuyer.com)

With my Logitech bluetooth adapter now plugged in via this Smart Plug, I hypothesized that when I would tell Alexa to turn that Smart Plug off, that would cut off her bluetooth conduit to the external speakers. I put that hypothesis to the test, asking her to turn off the Smart Plug. She gamely did as I said, and the last thing I heard her say out of the external speakers was the compliant “okay.” After seeing that the Smart Plug was now in the “off” mode and that the Logitech bluetooth adapter was fully off, I asked Alexa if she was still there. “Yes, I’m here. I listen once I hear the wake word,” she emitted cheerfully and clearly… out of her built-in speaker, once again.

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A small selection of the many Skills available for Alexa to learn. (Source: AFTVNews.com, click image for their article on Alexa’s Skills.)

I made sure to establish a “group” command to turn on power to the bluetooth adapter, while simultaneously turning on the Sony receiver (via my Harmony remote, another Echo “Skill”) and setting it to the correct input. I called this group “Audio Only,” so all I needed to do was call out, “Alexa, turn on Audio Only.” It’s fun watching the relevant devices switch on and fall in line, like something out of a futuristic movie. In fact, it’s so “sci-fi,” that I was compelled to take advantage of the Echo’s optional alternate “wake word.” Amazon designed the Echo to respond to other words, in case, for instance, you have somebody named “Alexa” also living in your home. The alternate wake words are “Amazon,” “Echo,” and my personal geeky favorite: “Computer.”

I haven’t risked playing a Star Trek episode in Alexa’s presence yet. She hasn’t learned to distinguish my voice from the TV, yet.

Fun fact: if you call out, “Computer: Earl Grey, hot,” she’ll pick from a series of responses incorporating the concept of the Starship Enterprise‘s replicator. Alas, no tea for now; but there is a gadget…

For now, I’m happy with the result of my experimentation. Followers of this blog know how rarely my tech setups work out as planned the first time. It’s true, I would have preferred Alexa to stay off bluetooth when I ask her—thus not requiring an extra device—but this is a satisfactory compromise.

Besides, what other gadgets do you know of that will sing to you on command?

 

 

The Tireless Search for Wireless Earbuds

I hate coming to this blog empty-handed. My NES Classic non-review still haunts me as a personal and professional disappointment. With that experience behind me, I was hoping for more success with my hunt for new headphones.

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Pictured: My NES Classic.

This quest actually began before Apple announced that their next iPhone wouldn’t support traditional wired headphones. My Mophie Juice Pack case limits the access to the iPhone 6S’s headphone port, but they make a special adapter cable (about 2.5″ long) that lets any wired headphones connect through the case. One night not too long ago, during my nightly walk, the Mophie adapter cable kinked just a bit too far in my pocket, and the internal conductor snapped. I could no longer listen to my iPhone with standard wired headphones.

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Mophie’s recessed headphone jack (above), and the adapter required to plug into it. Source: techguide.com.au

I took it as a sign, since very soon after this happened, Apple took the headphone jack away altogether from their next phone. I concluded that I shouldn’t spend any more time or money on “legacy” equipment that, while effective for using wired headphones on an iPhone 6S, would be useless on a 7. So my attention turned toward wireless solutions.

When Apple unveiled the iPhone 7, they also announced their own stereo wireless earbuds, the AirPods. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, these AirPods have yet to hit store shelves; in fact, since missing their announced “Late October 2016” launch window, no new street date has even been announced. I may eventually get those AirPods, but I’ve got walking to do in the meantime. And I can’t walk without my tunes.

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Until a realistic street date is announced, the AirPods (above) are nothing more than “vaporware.”

Wireless stereo headphones come in two styles: connected and separate. The connected headphones are often wired to each other by a thin cable, but sometimes there’s a thick middle piece that wraps around the neck or back of the head. My own comfort preferences led me toward the separate form factor. At this point, I’ve tried out two models of separate earbuds: the Sol Republic Amps Air, and the Jabra Elite Sport.

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Connected headphones, in many shapes and sizes. Not the best for running, in my opinion. Source: bestbuy.com

For those of you looking for a quick conclusion, here’s the TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) upshot: I’ve returned the Sol Republic set to the store, and the Jabra is going back, too. Neither were especially comfortable (a risk one runs when all the electronics have to be crammed into the individual earpieces with no external modules). And while the Sol Republic set’s sound quality was too tinny to justify a $150 price tag, at least I could hear my Spotify playlist in both ears. My attempt to “road test” the $250 Jabra set was hampered by an inability of the left bud to produce any sound at all. And the whole point of stereo earbuds is to avoid looking like “that guy” with the bluetooth headset in one ear.

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Sol Republic Amps Air. Source: solrepublic.com

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Jabra Elite Sport earbuds. Source: jabra.co.uk 

It’s funny, now that I’ve tried these two sets for myself, I can understand Apple’s hesitation to release their own wireless earbuds too early. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal (shared via Macrumors.com), the sound quality–particularly distortion-free stereo sound–didn’t meet Apple’s high standards. And that may be true (although manufacturing problems may also or instead be contributing to the delay); but it’s very frustrating for those who jumped to the new iPhone 7 (or those of us about to), counting on wireless earbuds to complement their new wireless phone audio experience.

I’m not sure what earbuds I’ll try next. Samsung makes a set, the Gear IconX; but the salesman actually discouraged me from picking it originally, because I wouldn’t be pairing it with a Samsung phone. I may decide to live on the edge and try it out, regardless. And if it works better than the other brands, you’ll be hearing from me.

I just hope I can hear from it. ◼︎

Link

Review: Scosche controlFREQ II (BTBRCBK)

When I’m on the treadmill, I like to watch videos via Netflix on my iPad, which I’ve mounted to the console. This provides an entertaining distraction from the otherwise less-than-thrilling experience of literally going nowhere fast. My biggest problem has been trying to manipulate the iPad while in motion. Say I need to adjust the volume, or pause the video, or even close the app altogether. If I’m walking or running, it’s hard to achieve the precision required to tap the appropriate onscreen icon. Usually I’d end up swiping, which on an iPad, is an entirely different action. My aim was to control the iPad without having to touch it, so I began the search for a remote control.

Historically, there have been three methods of remotely controlling iOS devices, like the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch: Inline with headphones; via a dock connector; or with BlueTooth. The inline connector is the button on the Apple headphone cord that allows for adjustment of volume, or playing and pausing a given track. Some even allow skipping back and forth. I tried this first, using Belkin’s Headphone Adapter with Microphone. While it was useful to be able to adjust my volume and play/pause music tracks (to which I also work out), I was still tethered to my device with a not-quite-long-enough cord, and the play/pause function did not work on the Netflix app. I wanted a wireless remote.

The 30-pin Dock Connector has been the go-to standard connector for Apple’s iOS devices since April 2003 with their third-generation iPod. This meant that every stereo system designed for compatibility with iPods and iPhones (and some even with room to fit iPads) featured this connector. I tried one device, a clock radio from AT&T, which let me plug in my iPhone (but an extra cable was required to connect the iPad) and use the radio’s remote. Alas, the radio was never designed for the purpose I had in mind, and again, the Netflix interactivity was no-go. Plus, it was another bulky piece of equipment I had strapped to my treadmill, which posed certain safety risks. The other consideration I had to make was the now out-of-date 30-pin Dock Connector, which Apple phased out in favor of the smaller Lightning connector in September 2012 starting with the iPhone 5, and extending to their other devices through the end of the year. Not only was this radio not fully compatible, but it was an expensive investment in old technology. My last resort was Bluetooth.

Controlling some functions via Bluetooth is not a new discovery. My Jaybird Bluetooth headphones let me adjust the volume, skip back and forth, play and pause music, and even accept phone calls (when paired with the iPhone, naturally, not the iPad). The two drawbacks are 1.) I’d have to reach up to my ear to press the relevant button, and 2.) This still doesn’t affect the Netflix app on my iPad. Did anything exist that extended my iPad’s functionality past its touchscreen?

As it turns out, one device fit the bill: the Scosche controlFREQ II. Not only does this device (FINALLY!) control the Netflix app’s play/pause function (although the iPad still wants to play iTunes music by default); but it also has a button that acts as the iPad’s “Home” button, allowing me to quit apps and even engage Siri from a distance. App switching (after a quick “double-tap” of the “Home” button) is still possible, but I still had to reach out and touch the icon of the app I want to run. Other than that minor quibble, it’s the best (and frankly, only) remote option for working with my iPad without having to dangle a cord or utilize the now-defunct 30-pin connector.

Some other functions that I haven’t really made use of yet include a remote shutter button, so I can set up my iOS camera and stand back to take a proper picture; a dedicated Mute button, for when holding down the “Volume Down” button is too time-consuming; and, most curiously, a hidden 12-key keypad, numbered 1-0, with a “pairing” key and an “Enter” key. The keypad (hidden under a sliding cover) only works in text-enabled apps (so no trying to dial your iPhone with it), but the buttons only enter their respective numbers. There appears to be no way to program them so that, for example, if I were to hold down “2” it would cycle through “A-B-C” as is the case on some other devices with numeric-only keypads. There is also a button on the remote for bringing up my device’s onscreen keyboard, but again, since it requires me to type on the actual screen, I don’t see the benefit of that particular function.

My only other complaint about the remote is that when the time came to pair the remote to my device, I had to type the pairing code (a four-digit numeric sequence, followed by “Enter”) on easily the smallest number keys I’ve ever used. I’d recommend keeping a pencil nearby so that you can press–with the eraser–the necessary keys for pairing.

I’ve been a fan of Scosche’s mobile accessories for some time, and I expect that this remote will stick with me, for use on my current iPad, as well as future devices to come. Recommended.

A Fitbit Nitpick

Technology, when implemented properly, can help us in our daily lives. It keeps us organized; it lets us work more quickly and efficiently; and it can make communication effortless.

Nike's iPod Sport Kit

Nike’s iPod Sport Kit

One relatively newer benefit of technology is in the area of health and fitness. For example, I’ve been using Nike’s Nike+ Running technology on my treadmill for a few years now. It tracks my duration, speed, pace, even calories burned, thanks to a small Nike sensor I’ve placed in my shoe that talks to my iPhone.

I decided to augment my setup with further gadgets (like I do), to get an even better bead on how I’m doing, fitness-wise. Since I wanted something that would talk to my iPhone 4S, I headed to the Apple Store where I got my phone. I was surprised by how many different items are available, both at their physical stores, and online, in the health & fitness category.

The Aria scale

The Aria scale

The first device I picked out was the Fitbit Aria™ Wi-Fi Smart Scale, which transmits your weight, BMI, and body fat percentage, over the internet, to your personalized dashboard page at fitbit.com. I bought this because, while it’s useful to have a gadget that tracks your movement, it’s also useful to have a gadget that reminds you WHY you need to move. I was hoping to shed some of this winter weight. The scale also has the benefit of displaying your weight after you’ve stepped off. With my eyes not as sharp as they once were, sometimes it’s hard to read the tiny numbers of an old-fashioned analog scale while standing on it. The Aria™ scale has you stand on it while it performs its calculations, then it tells you “step off” and only then does it display your weight. It then transmits its data to your Fitbit profile (which you have set up prior to the first weigh-in). The rest–meeting your fitness goals–is up to you. Fitbit helps you stay motivated with achievement badges like in a video game: I’m very proud of my “5 lb Loss” badge, considering as of this writing, I’ve only had the scale for a week.

The Fitbit One tracker.

The Fitbit One tracker.

The other gadget I got was more of a challenge. Many such gadgets, especially the pedometers and other biometric sensors, talk to the iPhone (and iPod Touch, etc.) via Bluetooth, the ubiquitous wireless standard that lets us use our phones hands-free. Comparing the various devices’ strengths and weaknesses, I decided on the Fitbit One™ Wireless Activity & Sleep Tracker. I was particularly intrigued by the possibility of tracking my sleep cycle, to see what kind of tosser-and-turner I really am.

Since I had already set up a Fitbit account with my scale, adding the One™ tracker was a very simple process. What followed, however, was not.

I discovered that, while there is a program to sync my Nike run data to my Fitbit account, it is impossible to use the Fitbit Bluetooth tracker at the same time as my Nike+ shoe sensor, even though that sensor isn’t strictly speaking Bluetooth. I spoke to both Nike and Apple and confirmed that bluetooth functionality is disabled on the iPhone while the Nike sensor is in use. This would also mean I couldn’t use Bluetooth headphones while I ran, but that’s another blog post.

Seeing as I had a longer “history” with my Nike device, I opted to keep it and send the Fitbit device back. And this is where I ran into the headache. Nowhere in the fitbit dashboard is there the option to remove a device. Adding one is as simple as can be, but the reverse is far from true. Unclear as to how to proceed, I e-mailed Fitbit. This was their response:

Hello Craig,

We are sorry to hear that you want to return your Fitbit One. Unfortunately, there is no way to remove the tracker from your Dashboard. You can further use your current Fitbit Account without using the One, and it won’t affect anything in the Dashboard. If you want to a Fitbit Account only for your Fitbit Aria, you well have to cancel the account and make another and the information recorded by your Aria will be lost when you cancel your Fitbit Account.

Regarding your question about other Fitness devices enabled with Wi-Fi, let us inform you that for the moment only the Aria scale works with wireless technology. We will consider this idea for future devices.

Thank you so much for your time.

Sincerely,
Rita Isabelle and the Fitbit Team

My response:

Seriously? It’s a simple enough process to add a device, why can’t one be removed? That’s a serious hole in your otherwise very enjoyable system.

How can I wipe my settings from the One so I can box it up and return it? I worry that if somebody else uses it improperly it will log the data into my account.

I strongly urge you to add the ability to remove devices as easily as they can be added.

Thank you.

Finally, they responded:

Hello Craig,

We are sorry to hear that you want to return your Fitbit One. Your Fitbit can be returned for a refund. You can read our full return policy on our website by going to http://www.fitbit.com/returns. There is currently no way to delete data from your tracker.

I gingerly re-packed my tracker (taking care not to jostle it, because each movement gets stored in it as “activity”) and brought it back to the Apple store where I bought it. The helpful salespeople took it back and assured me it was not going back on their shelves (the darn thing still had my name in its digital display!) but rather, back to Fitbit.

Before you put yourself through this, make sure that you absolutely want to use this, and that you don’t have any devices with which it may conflict. Because once you have a Fitbit One™, it’s yours forever (as far as they’re concerned).

On the upside, I’m pretty sure all this stress burned some calories.