Fitness trackers keep abandoning touch screen buttons, which is terrible | Android Center

2021-11-24 05:54:03 By : Mr. Jimmy Chan

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Fitbit Sense and Garmin Forerunner 945 Source: Michael Hicks / Android Central

Most of the best fitness trackers and fitness smart watches use a combination of touch screens and buttons. The more complex the UI or the more compact the design, the more it relies on touch for navigation. While this is great for lifestyle watches, touch UI is an unreliable mess for fitness technology, sacrificing weight and style usability.

Last month, I decided to use fitness technology to start my marathon training. Every training run, interval run or half marathon, I will try to switch to a new tracker or watch. I am looking at the fitness tracker as a whole to see which features can improve my performance. Or do the opposite, in the case of fitness technology that relies on touch.

For fitness technology, Touch UI is an unreliable mess, sacrificing the usability of weight and style.

It is not newsworthy to say that the touch screen and sweaty fingers are a hellish match, plus the small surface area of ​​a 1-inch tracker screen or a 2-inch smart watch display. During a run, there is nothing more frustrating and striking than your damn smart watch's refusal to acknowledge your taps and swipes during the journey.

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In order to start my test quickly, my fitness guru colleague Jeramy Johnson lent me a Fitbit Sense, Amazfit Band 5 and so on. I know that the Amazfit under $50 is a basic model, but I would like to know how the Advanced Sense compares to other touch-based watches. It turns out that it is the same as other watches I have tested.

The expensive Fitbit Sense relies almost entirely on the touch screen. Source: Joe Maring / Android Central

I live in California, where the "brightness" of OLED is diluted by almost constant sunlight, and I can't see a dim screen that is always on. If I want to view my statistics while running or pause tracking while waiting for a red light, I need to activate it. But of all the brands I have tested, touch screens rarely prove responsiveness. I would tap three, four, or five times before it actually happened; even so, my sweaty fingertips would slip away, just to change the view it took a few attempts.

The touch screen and sweaty fingers are a hellish match.

I also found that the built-in accelerometer and gyroscope of the watch are not credible. Twisting the wrist or moving it toward the face should activate the display, but many brands seem unable to distinguish this from the typical running action. So I use always-on and drain the battery as a compromise.

If you only use your smart device to start and stop exercise without any content in between, it doesn’t matter. But I like to view more indicators during running than a single watch. When I try to hold myself accountable while running alone, I use advanced pre-programmed exercises to manually switch between different target paces-I usually only see this on advanced watches with appropriate buttons .

In terms of fitness technology, only buttons and crowns can work quickly and consistently. But except for the most expensive brands, most fitness technologies have left them behind.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic and its rotating bezel make navigation easier. Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

Today, knobs, crowns and rotating bezels have become patents for expensive lifestyle brands: Apple Watch 7s or Galaxy Watch 4 Classics. It gives them a retro look on your wrist and provides more convenient navigation.

The irony is that lifestyle watches do not require buttons like fitness watches. When we are standing or sitting, touch screens work best in our daily lives; buttons provide a convenient shortcut, but you can use your screen comfortably under ideal conditions, just like the small smart phone The screen is the same.

Fitness bands benefit most from precise control. But more and more fitness brands are abandoning buttons or dials because they are outdated. Maybe they are outdated, and consumers think the buttons are ugly or outdated.

Knobs, crowns and rotating bezels have become patents for expensive lifestyle brands.

Look at Fitbit. Older Fitbits like Ionic, Blaze, Surge, and the original Versa have two buttons, but most of its current devices only have a tactile side turf, which you can squeeze to open or activate shortcuts. Although we like Fitbits' sensors and software, a consistent theme in our Inspire 2, Sense and Charge 4 tests is that this "button" usually requires multiple squeezes to register correctly. A fussy button is not an inspired UI.

But hey, at least Fitbits has a semi-functional button! Most other fitness bracelets rely entirely on touch screens, and our reviews usually forgive them because they are very cheap and lightweight, have shiny AMOLED, and look more fashionable than ever.

By moving in this direction, fitness technology creators can achieve success in the range of $100 and below. In this range, customers will accept some user interface frustrations and missing features as part of the field. But for more expensive purchases, I think these companies are ceding territory to more "hardcore" fitness companies that put usability above style.

Coros Pace 2 can handle complex fitness software because it has buttons instead of a touch screen. Source: Michael Hicks / Android Central

One of my favorite new running smartwatches is the Coros Pace 2, which I reviewed recently. This smartwatch has a lightweight frame for a fitness tracker, free advanced running metrics that you usually have to pay monthly, and two buttons (a crown) for simple navigation. Every time I twist the crown, the watch will be unlocked-no accidental or failed taps-after which I can access my indicators or pause the operation by quickly twisting and pressing it without any problems.

Any Garmin smartwatch will provide a similar experience, as will any other Coros or Polar running watches. But most people want a smart watch that they can use outside of exercise; for them, this means a touch screen. Frankly speaking, the prices of most of these watches are much higher than what ordinary people are willing to spend.

There is a reason why many of my colleagues’ fitness watches are Samsung or Apple watches, because they provide average quality and better button/touch hybrid navigation compared to cheap fitness bracelets. But they are not specifically used for fitness in exactly the same way. My colleague's description of the Galaxy Watch 4 overheating at only 5K scared me.

Fitbit Charge 5 is an excellent tracker, but its touch screen can be finicky. Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central

What I want is for the company to bring the appropriate buttons and crowns back to the sub-$200 category. Even if they add a few grams of weight, these will greatly improve the navigation experience of the fitness tracker/smartwatch. I hope Fitbit will lead the way.

Since Google acquired Fitbit, the company has been slow to release new smart watches compared to the past few years. Whether it is due to the pandemic or plans to incorporate Wear OS 3 into Fitbit, the company may make a major redesign in the store.

Affordability and proper navigation buttons should not be mutually exclusive.

My colleagues who love Fitbit worry that this shift may damage the Fitbit brand. In my case, I hope that future products like Fitbit Sense 2 will improve the navigation controls to make it easier to control Wear OS 3. Happily, this will also make browsing its fitness tools easier.

I suspect that many recreational and fitness enthusiasts will disagree with my point of view, and are willing to accept unreliable touch screen controls instead of more complex operating systems that rely on buttons. But I am waiting for the fitness tracker revolution, which means we no longer have to accept the frustrating status quo.

1oz watch for lightweight tracking

Coros Pace 2 can provide you with several weeks of battery life on a single charge, detailed running metrics without monthly subscription, rugged 1.2-inch LCD display, and simple button/crown navigation. It is only a little heavier than a fitness tracker, but it is easier to use.

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Michael is a former e-book developer who later became a technical writer. His career has ranged from VR to wearable devices, from emerging technologies to game guides, and then to AC, covering Android, Oculus, Stadia, and smart homes. As a native of the Bay Area, he likes underperforming sports teams, running and torturing his friends as a DM for D&D and Star Wars RPG events.