Is Google FitBit A Good Fit?

In a world of tablets, there’s iPad. Then there’s…not much else really. And in a world of smartwatches, there’s Apple Watch. Then there’s – crickets – ? OK. There are a few options, most notable is FitBit. But are fitness trackers worth it?

If The FitBit Fits

Late last year, Google bought FitBit! But what’s the deal with that now?

I’m curious because I need fitness.

Since the Covid-19 virus closed our local YMCA, I’ve not attended my karate class in months! And when you’re in your 40’s, the body easily withers…

…like a french fry left under the driver’s seat.

Recently, Apple announced lots of cool new stuff, including more Apple Watch improvements. The Activity app is now called Fitness! Because…fitness!

…shoves handful of Doritos into mouth…

Is a smartwatch necessary for health and well being? No. But it can help. I owned a 1st-gen moto360 Android Wear Smartwatch years ago. The fitness features, like counting my push-ups and steps, were cool. 

But I tend to think of smartwatches as superfluous. They don’t really add much to my life – my smartphone already does most of what I want and need. And smartwatches are an extra device you must charge, update, and interact with.

Yet the more new buzzworthy features Apple crams into its smartwatch, the more I think I might want one. Last year, I listed 3 things that would make me splash out for an Apple Watch.

Also, this article about an Android user trying an Apple Watch and recommending it wholeheartedly is compelling.

But I moved out of Apple land to Google’s land full of Androids and Chromebooks. So what about Google Fit and Wear OS? I fear they’re about as important as Android tablets – almost non-existent.

Yet Google bought FitBit.

FitBit has remained a popular fitness device. It’s “a trusted brand that supports more than 28 million active users…” My co-worker recently raved about how good FitBit is. So that got me thinking…

Might a low-cost FitBit tracker be good enough for my exercise and help me shed some ice-cream pounds? Maybe. Or would I want to wear a more costly FitBit smartwatch so I get more out of it besides counting my steps and heartbeats? For the same price of the latter, I could just buy an Apple Watch Series 3.

Consider this: “Fitbit will continue to remain platform-agnostic across both Android and iOS.” This limits integration, so how good can FitBit be under Google?

Regardless of the synergy level, this merger of Google and FitBit is telling. In order to stand a chance at competing with Apple Watch for customers’ fitness, it will take at least the combined power of Google with the popularity of FitBit.

And it may be too little too late.

Plus, the Google-FitBit acquisition is pending an EU antitrust investigation unless Google promises to not use FitBit health data to sell or target ads at users. This whole thing is tenuous.

Maybe I should just get an iPhone and Apple Watch after all.

I’m reluctant to get either a smartwatch or a simple FitBit. In my limited experience with the original moto360, I recall too much flakiness – dropped connections between watch and phone. I suppose the best route would be to start on the low-cost end of FitBits. Invest a little and see how much I get in return.

Yet when I consider adopting a wrist computer toting lifestyle, the Apple Watch seems the best option. Why? Because I have total confidence that Apple makes their phone and watch pair together in optimal harmony. Apple is the king of hardware/software integration.

But this is also a reason why I’m glad to be outside the Apple camp. The Apple ecosystem whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Each Apple device has a halo effect. Use one, and you’re likely to use another. Then you quickly must buy all the Apple things. It’s expensive! And you’re locked into an Apple garden of gadgets.

Apple’s is a tightly-coupled system. In contrast, Google’s is a loosely-coupled system, which is more open to third-parties, like FitBit. And although there’s some synergy between Google devices – my Android phone unlocks my Chromebook automatically – there’s not a big draw to buy a bunch of Google gear.

The Shoes Fit…

A FitBit might be a simple choice. It’s just a small activity tracker. But it’s also unnecessary. About the only gear you need to move your body is a decent pair of shoes. Most of us have a closet with several pairs. Time to get movin’.

That said, when I see the 3rd-gen moto360, it looks like some impressive fit-tech.

Hmmm…buy a smartwatch, or watch what I eat?

What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

Now Playing YouTube Music Premium

YouTube Music kicked Spotify’s tail. But it wasn’t a fair fight! That’s because YouTube, the video service, jumped into the ring. It took a lot to pin down Spotify for 10 seconds. In a future match, who knows? For now, my money is on YouTube Music Premium.

Playing Now

About a month ago, I decided to give YouTube Music Premium a full 30-day try. Go all-in!

So how’s that going? I’m sticking with it!

Spotify (Premium) was my music streaming service of choice. It’s great! It was the catalyst I needed to finally understand music streaming, helping me break free from my music library I held onto for years.

YouTube Music (YTM) is very similar to Spotify. There are only a few minor differences. One of those I happen to prefer is that YTM has a dedicated “Songs” list unlike Spotify.

There are two main reasons why I switched.

YTM is built-into my Android phone (can’t uninstall) and integrated by default with Google Assistant. Being all-in with Google, this makes sense for me. Third-party services have their place, but living on a first-party ecosystem (Apple is the gold standard) is best. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The larger reason is the bundle option with YouTube Premium. For only $2 extra per month, I get YouTube ad-free on top of YouTube Music Premium. Nice!

At first, I thought having music videos mixed within YTM would be an ugly intrusion. But guess what? It’s not. In fact, it’s quite nice. Music videos are integrated in an elegant fashion. They’re present and available yet not obtrusive.

I also find a nice synergy between YouTube and YTM. Seeing my music playlists on YouTube makes their similarities consistent in my mind. I feel more connected to both YouTube and YTM. I’m sure this is by design. It makes the services more sticky. But that’s fine with me because I’m loving them both.

Sure, there are a few small downsides to YTM when contrasted with Spotify. The only significant one is not every official album on Spotify is available on YTM. Yet for every “official” song missing from YTM, they’re often found on YouTube itself. And since that is integrated, you can play any song you want almost always. 

Playing Next

Whether you download or stream your songs, YTM is a great music subscription service on par with the premium level of Spotify.

I’d also say it’s comparable to Apple Music, but I’ve only tried that one for 90 days. Apple Music is available on Android phones, but I doubt the app and service works well based on app store reviews. If you’re going to use Apple Music, then you’re going to have an iPhone (like I did) anyways, right?

I have not used YTM long enough yet for it to learn my music tastes well. But based on my past usage of Google Play Music (which is being euthanized later this year), I trust Google’s eerily impressive machine learning will figure it out.

Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy YTM and ad-free YouTube! 

And if it doesn’t work out, I know I can always fall back to Spotify Premium.

It’s good to have a few great options.

What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

Blogger Did A Thing

Blogger Endures

It’s hard to believe Blogger has been around since the last millennium! 21 years is a long time for any tech thing. And despite Google’s record for killing off services, somehow Blogger endures. In fact, it was updated last month, a rare thing.

Easy Does It

I wouldn’t blame you for thinking Blogger is no longer relevant, but Google must think otherwise. And I’m glad they do. They think enough of it to keep it up to date. A new post on the official Blogger blog details the changes.

If you head over to Blogger via your Google account, you’ll see that it’s now totally refreshed with Material Design painted all over. And it’s as simple as ever, with an aesthetic that’s more crisp and clean than iceberg lettuce.

There’s not much to it, but all the basics are clear and present. Gray icons, white space, and orange accents make the site inviting. The simplicity is attractive.

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

One aspect I find delightful is the Label feature. Like labels in Gmail and in Keep, they appear and act the same in Blogger; they’re easy to manage. The best thing about them is the simplicity: there are only labels. That’s it. Contrast that to WordPress that has Categories and Tags; it’s more complex.

Blogger does have its own complex area: customizing your theme and layout. It still has the classic look to it. I can only guess that will be updated at some point in the future. Of course, that assumes Blogger will have a future.

The revitalized Blogger, still a free service by the way, also looks and works well on mobile. When I checked out the web app on my Android phone’s Chrome browser, the interface was a match!

Keep On Blogger

I guess I will always be fond of Blogger. The attention Google’s given it recently makes me smile. The overall simplicity makes the platform attractive, almost tempting me away from WordPress.

But Blogger’s basic nature sacrifices features I’ve come to rely on at WordPress.

However, if you dislike the Block Editor on WordPress, you will love the straightforward Editor on Blogger!

Blogs are dead? Don’t tell that to Blogger.

What do you think? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Motorola Updates Upgrade Promise

A Promising Response

You and I both know that smartphones don’t last forever. But shouldn’t they last more than a year? I wrote about this recently in relation to a Computer World article that singled out Motorola for not playing nice with phone updates on its new $1,000 phone. Then another article appeared, this time on Android Central, calling out Motorola again on this issue. And you know what? The next day, Motorola responded in the positive!

Moto On The Move

Motorola has announced that their new Edge+ phone will get not one but two OS upgrades in addition to years of security updates. This is a nice change from the company that has shown it truly cares about clean Android software, as Joe Maring pointed out in his related opinion piece.

Moto has been on a roll lately, releasing bold and budget phones. With the premium Razr, the flagship Edge+, and the mid-range Moto G Power and Stylus, Motorola has shown it cares about hardware. And now with the promise of an extra OS upgrade for the Edge+, they’re reaffirming that software is just as important to them.

These are positive signs coming from one of the stalwarts in the mobile phone industry. Despite Apple and Samsung dominating much of the smartphone market, Lenovo owned Motorola isn’t anywhere near giving up the fight. If nothing else, their G line of affordable phones has offered incredible value for years, making them the go-to Android phones for buyers on a budget.

Like author Joe Maring, I too am fond of Moto’s brand. As mentioned, the company’s respect for stock Android software is a standout feature, not to mention the nice user-friendly touches they add, like opening the camera by twisting the phone as you pull it out of your pocket. About the time you lift it to eye-level, you’re ready to snap the photo.

Moto Memories

If you’ll allow me to reminisce a bit, I recall Motorola first grabbing mindshare in the late 90’s when their StarTAC flip phone made waves. I was on my college campus where a classmate showed us how cool it was! Years later when the original Razr was everywhere, I didn’t own one myself but I helped my brother buy one – because it was the Razr!

My first phone from the company was the Moto Q – I still like that thing! That was a “feature” phone sporting Windows Mobile, a physical keyboard, and buttons! Tactile feedback is very underrated. Much later, I got the first Moto X with custom wood back and orange accents.

Next, I bought an unlocked Moto G4, the Amazon variant. Guess what, although it no longer gets updates, it is still in use today by my Dad! And now, I’ve been enjoying the new Moto G Power for a month.

Besides being nostalgic, I say all that to underscore how good it is to hear that Motorola is serious about making great phones and pleasing their customers. Saying their new flagship phone only gets one OS upgrade but then improving on that later, albeit just meeting the standard, does quality service for their phone buyers, especially the loyal nerds like myself.

Meeting The Standard

Having said that, I want to call on Motorola to continue their winning streak by extending their OS upgrade promise to not just the fancy phones at the top, but to the huge installed base of fantastic mid-range phones – the G series!

As of now, Joe Maring points out,

“The new Moto G Stylus and G Power are excellent mid-range handsets, but you aren’t promised any big software updates beyond Android 11.”

One of the big selling points of Apple’s iPhones is their several years’ worth of reliable OS upgrades. The bar is set, and I believe Motorola is able to rise to the high standard. The Android market would benefit greatly from a company with a reputation of phone support for a great length of time. And that company would, in turn, reap the rewards. Nokia and Google are frontrunners in this regard, but Motorola has the mojo to standout as a leader.

What do you think? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Upcoming Moto G Power

Hello Moto

At long last! Motorola’s newest mid-range and budget-friendly phones are being released in the US soon – April 16th to be exact.

The Moto G Power and Moto G Stylus went on pre-sale today! (It’s not an April Fool’s joke.)

First announced on February 7th with a great price of only $250, and no release date mentioned other than “Spring,” I’ve been eagerly anticipating the Moto G Power hitting store shelves. Of course, this was before COVID-19 became a real problem in the US and practically closed almost all stores.

Nevertheless, today I pre-ordered the Moto G Power from Best Buy for delivery to my house. This way, I can avoid public exposure to any viruses threatening mankind at the moment, further strengthen my introversion, and finally quit waiting for this phone, and my switch to Android.

But this is just a mid-range Android phone; what’s the big deal?

Yeah, no biggy, right? Well, it’s one more purchase to keep the economy stimulated. It’s also a way to keep feeling normal amidst sheltering-in-place. It’s not like time itself has stopped, and technological progress is still mostly underway. While feeling hindered at home, the world still progresses in some way.

For me, I’ve got a nearly 4 year old iPhone 7. Although it works great to this day, I’m a tech geek ready for an upgrade.

Software wise, I’ll be switching from iOS to Android, which is not too big of a leap. I’m already fully on-board in the Google App-o-sphere. And I also rely on third-party apps that work on both Apple and Google phones. In any case, it’s nice to have new options.

Hardware wise, the Moto G Power offers several big advances over my trusty iPhone 7. Besides a much larger display, a longer lasting battery, a headphone jack, and no unsightly notch, the main improvements I’m focused on are the cameras.

The iPhone 7 has one lens. It’s a very good one too. But the Moto G Power has 3 lenses: wide, ultra-wide, and macro! With that combo, you get 4 new capabilities: equal or greater photos, portrait photos with bokeh (background blur), super close-up pictures of life’s little details, and super-wide images catching the whole scene. For a shutter-bug like me, this is some awesome stuff.

I mean, come on, a MACRO LENS on a phone! Yeah, it’s got a low resolution, but it still opens up a new level of creativity with close-ups. It’s like when Instagram first came out and only allowed square photos. Sure, that was a limitation, but the app itself opened up new possibilities, and the limitation actually pushed creativity in new ways.

Overall, I’ll close this by kind of reiterating some basic Android phone benefits: affordability, flexibility, and variety when it comes to phone choices. And now, with the Moto G Power and Moto G Stylus appearing in two weeks, you’ll have at least two more very good options.

Have you used a Moto phone? Care to chime in about Android? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!