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Wearable Tech

Jawbone Up's new software takes a bite out of weight loss and tracking food

Jawbone already tracks steps, sleep, and even caffeine: now calorie-counting, food-logging and weight loss are being revamped and brought into the fold of Jawbone's intelligent insight-based coaching.


The Jawbone Up is one of our favorite fitness bands, for good reason: it has some of the best life-coaching software out there. The latest version of the Up app takes on the hardest part of the health-fitness landscape: weight loss and food tracking. And it aims to start guiding people how to eat better and lose weight...something that, if it works, could make the Up experience a lot more useful.

Up 3.2, which is available today for iOS, looks like the previous Up app that works with the Jawbone Up and Up24 . Jawbone's Up app already tracks sleep, activity, caffeine, and it already does some degree of food tracking and scale connectivity. The new app's additions are a deeper revamp, turning the app into something closer to what the Withings Health Mate app offers: a more comprehensive attempt to track and guide your health.


To do it, the app folds in new features from several different directions at once: a new Food Score that applies to all foods, a food-pairing system for helping auto-fill or even meal-plan in advance, weight tracking that supports wireless scales including those from Withings, and even baked-in support for ordering apps that send your order directly to your connected account for easier logging. It's an ambitious app update, and one that we were pre-briefed on but haven't tested yet.

Restaurant menus have been added, which will appear based on your location. Your most commonly-eaten foods will appear in a recent queue when you log food again next time. And every time a food is selected, a set of related foods appears below. It should make adding food easier, and even help compare what adding or removing foods does for overall healthiness.

A rolling calorie count based on your weight-related estimated daily calorie intake shows how much you have remaining, and tallies your day's overall Food Score: the food score boils down your daily choices into a single Metacritic-like number that's green when healthy, and yellow when less so. You can search for food later on based on what fits your calorie count allowance. But the app, according to Jawbone, will work even if you don't obsessively log everything: just use it for breakfast, for instance, and you can still get useful information on what you could be eating that's better. The system was developed using input from Nutrivise, a nutrition-lifestyle company acquired by Jawbone last year.

There's also knitted-in support for healthy-ordering apps and smart devices: the Orange Chef Prep Pad wireless food scale can send measurements to the Up app, and food ordering from Munchery, PlateJoy, HealthyOut and NuMi from Nutrisystem will send your food orders and planned meals directly to the app, too, if you happen to use those services.

Everything you add gets folded into Jawbone's Insights engine, which gives you cards with lifestyle tips drawn from what you're doing: get a few more hours sleep, and maybe you'll be less hungry, or if you've exercised this morning, here are some good food choices for breakfast. The Insights cards have been pushed right to the top of Jawbone's app in the latest update, making the app feel even more like a coaching service than ever before. In fact, that's the best path for Jawbone in the future: now that the app's added deeper sleep-tracking, caffeine-tracking and food and weight-loss tracking, helping us out with some clear life suggestions that feel simple is what would make everything a lot easier to understand. If Jawbone can nail that, then maybe Up will evolve into something bigger than just a fitness band. I'm already curious to test it out and see how compelling it is in action.