Amazon announced the launch of the Amazon Halo View yesterday, along with the next evolution of its accompanying subscription service.
Amazon Halo was quite underwhelming when it first launched last year, not earning a place on our best fitness trackers list. With no display to speak of, Halo relied on its accompanying app to display stats on your workouts, step count, sleep, calories burned and more.
One of the most-maligned features was the "tone" function, which analysed your tone of voice, telling you if you sound "hopeful", "happy", "confused" or "condescending", "irritated" or "stubborn". In a move reminiscent of Black Mirror, it offers suggestions to improve your communication skills.
We live in a world obsessed with collecting metrics and data about us, in order to more accurately sell us things. However, although the best fitness watch entries such as the Apple Watch come equipped with mics, this is something no-one else has dared to attempt. It comes off as creepy, invasive, and there was a sizeable online backlash.
The Halo View, Amazon's second go at the tracker, comes in at $79.99 – $20 cheaper – and drops the creepy mic in favour of an AMOLED color screen, bringing it into line with conventional fitness trackers. It looks like a conventional Fitbit now, and the device itself seems to be pretty good value at the price, but almost indistinguishable to the glut of mid-range fitness trackers out there like the Fitbit Charge 5.
However, where Amazon looks like it's going to be taking the fight to its competitors is not in the hardware, but in the Halo subscription service.
Halo Fitness offers thousands of "studio-quality" workouts able to be streamed on a smart TV, much like Apple Fitness+, while Halo Nutrition, which will be available in January 2022, will have tailored meal plans, recipes and guides from many different diets, from Weight Watchers to Whole Foods (which happens to be owned by Amazon). The app can even determine your body composition (the ratio of muscle to fat in your body) with a full-body scan.
It's here the Amazon Halo's aggressively-priced subscription service might take the fight to Apple and Fitbit. At $4 a month and $80 for the tracker, it's a hell of a lot cheaper than Apple Fitness+. But does low price really mean value? Time, and a hands-on look at the new service and hardware, will tell.
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Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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