Personal Blog for Joe Bowser

Wearables - Garmin Vivofit review

Last weekend I replaced my FitBit Force with a Garmin Vivofit. This week, I'm going to be going back to MEC to return my Garmin Vivofit. There's nothing wrong with the hardware, it's just that the software is so totally unusable and ugly that the user experience of actually syncing the data that this has collected is terrible.

For those of you who don't know, I've had problems with the FitBit line of trackers, namely the fact that I've lost three of them. I've owned two FitBit Ultra trackers, and a FitBit One. The ultra wasn't a bad tracker, but I did lose one a month after I had it. The FitBit One I had for a whole 24 hours before the belt clip caused it to hop off and go down Commercial Drive. After that point, I decided to not buy a FitBit until there was a FitBit with a display for steps and time that could go on my wrist.

I then bought the Force when it came out and I initially liked it, except for this super funky smell that came from the strap. I never showered with it, and I washed it a bit. It was clear that there was something wrong with the material. A friend of mine later showed me her FitBit rash and then I was on the lookout for it. Eventually, I started to get the FitBit rash and I decided to not let it all get disgusting and I filed for my refund. I think that if I wore the device in the shower, I'd probably end up with full-blown FitBit rash.

After the Force Rash thing, I decided to see what else was out there that fit my requirements, and I found the Garmin had their Vivofit. Here's a breakdown of the good and the bad.

The Good:
  • Always-On Display
  • Plastic strap does not smell bad
  • No need to charge the deice
  • Swappable wrist straps
The Bad:
  • Does not track sleep
  • Only syncs manually
  • Does not have any light for reading in the dark
The Ugly (why this will be returned):
  • Garmin Connect has poor UI
  • Garmin Connect clearly uses OAuth, but poorly
  • Garmin Connect Bluetooth LE code is buggy, requiring the phone to be restarted before it works again

I know that Android BLE is not exactly easy, but the fact is that you should be able to close your connections and not end up with your BLE just failing if your sync process is 100% manual. I had very high expectations for this, since Garmin is a big name when it comes to GPS and Fitness Equipment, but this really fell flat. I think at this point, I should just wait until after Google IO and see if the Moto360 will kill fitness trackers by integrating them into the watch hardware.

I'll probably talk about Hardware and Industrial Design more, since it's interesting to see how hardware startups have to make sure to have their hardware and software work well enough for the user. I ahven't seen anyone get this balanced right yet.

Written By

Android 4.4.3 and Chromium 33

Android 4.4.3 is rolling out to the stock devices, as well as to the Moto X/G/E phones, and it comes with Chromium 33, instead of the earlier Chrome 30. This is a good thing, since there are many fixes. While it's extremely disappointing that Google hasn't at least partially decoupled Chromium from the Android update process and made it work more like Google Play Services, it's good to see yet another WebView be available.

So far from what I see, the main change is that the File Input field has been fixed. It doesn't fully work in Cordova yet, but I'm hoping that we can get this to work properly soon. Since 4.4.3 is a minor update, I'm also hoping for more adoption than a major version, but it's entirely possible that both CR-30 and CR-33 will be living out in the wild for a long time, which makes Third Party WebViews even more relevant.

Written By

Website Migration and Slides

Due to issues with my old hosting provider, I decided to consolidate my hosting and move off of Dreamhost to this new blog. I also decided to move from Wordpress to Jekyll, and remove commenting, since way too many unanswered technical questions would wind up in by blog comments.

I recently attended the OpenWest Conference in Utah. The slides from this talk will be added to the "Speaking" section shortly. I will also try to find my 2012 slides for both the Big Android BBQ as well as my 2012 OSCON slides. Fortunately, my 2013 OSCON slides are still accessible, since I hosted them with

I'll also be speaking at OSCON 2014 this year. I'll be on a panel about Open Source and Mobile, as well as giving a talk on Cordova: Past, Present and Future, which will be an updated version of the talk at OpenWest. I may also try to submit an Ignite talk, but I'm not 100% certain on what yet.

I'm also going to post rants on Ant vs Gradle and what that means for the Android parts of Cordova, as well as other dev things here really soon. I'm really glad to get this back up and going, since the non-functioning domain pointing to an Ubuntu Apache page was frustrating as hell.

Written By

Older ›