Review: Striiv Play makes workouts more fun
Generic Company Place Holder Play
A couple of months ago we reviewed Striiv’s pioneer product, the Striiv smart pedometer. This nifty little device is both a pedometer and a motivator—it includes various motivational tools, including a FarmVille-inspired game, to encourage people to walk, run, and take the stairs more often. Now the company is back with the second generation of its smart pedometer, just six months after its initial product debuted back in April.
Striiv’s second-generation product consists of the small Striiv Play smart pedometer alongside a free app, which can be used with the Striiv Play or by itself. The app is free and is currently available to all users running iOS 3.0 or later. The Striiv Play is available to app users who have an iOS device with built-in Bluetooth 4.0 (in other words, an iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, or iPad 3). The Striiv Play costs $70 and is available at Best Buy, Amazon.com, and Striiv.com.
Like the first-generation Striiv smart pedometer, the new Striiv Play (and its companion app) is appropriate for everyone – whether you’re a hardcore athlete, a casual mall-walker, or a blob who sits on the couch all day.
Although the Striiv Play is appropriate for just about anyone, it’s really designed for casual users rather than athletes. The Striiv Play is primarily a pedometer, which means it’s not terribly useful for athletes who are looking for advanced tracking. Striiv has partnered with MyFitnessPal, which is a calorie-counting app that lets you input your daily calorie intake. The company has also included a weight tracking mini-app inside its app, so it’s a better choice for users who are looking to lose (or gain) weight. However, like the original Striiv smart pedometer, the Striiv Play is best for people who need a little encouragement to take the stairs instead of the escalator.
Design and features
Getting started with the Striiv Play app/appcessory package is pretty straightforward. Before you run out and purchase the Striiv Play, you can first download the free app from Apple’s App Store. At the moment, the Striiv app is only available on iOS, though the company does have plans to roll out an Android version soon, and possibly a Windows Phone 8 version in the future.
The app tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, and how many minutes of activity you’ve performed in a given day. The app uses your device’s built-in accelerometer, as well as your device’s GPS, to determine your stride length during different types of exercises (walking, jogging, etc). Because iOS devices do not have built-in altimeters, the app cannot track your stair count without the help of the Striiv Play device.
The app’s home screen looks like the original Striiv’s home screen. At the top of the screen there’s a large colored bar with various statistics. The first bar shows how many steps you’ve taken, and you can swipe to the right or the left to see your stair count (if your device is paired with a Striiv Play device), distance walked, calories burned, and minutes of activity. Below each number statistic is a small bar that fills up as you achieve goals. For example, below the “Miles Walked” statistic, the bar fills up as you walk the distance of the Golden Gate Bridge (1.7 miles).
The app’s home screen also features mini-apps and challenges. The mini-apps include motivational tools, such as Striiv’s FarmVille-inspired MyLand mini-game, charts, trophies, weight tracking, tips, and a link to MyFitnessPal.
MyLand is perhaps one of the most popular mini-apps, and it’s not difficult to see why – it’s a game that combines FarmVille and fitness to encourage people to walk. In MyLand, your goal is to build up a magical island community using “energy,” which you can obtain by, well, walking with the app. As you walk, you earn energy points, which is the primary currency in MyLand for growing plants and building structures. Once a plant or structure is completed, it yields coins, which are MyLand’s secondary currency.
The app also features a Friends Leaderboard, which lets you compare your progress with your friends on Facebook. The original Striiv also had this feature, but it makes a lot more sense on the app. First of all, the app is free, which means your friends don’t have to run out and purchase a $100 device just to participate. Second, if you’re using an iPhone or an iPad, the app is almost constantly able to connect to the Internet and update in realtime.
The app also has a challenges board on the home screen, which constantly updates with little challenges. Challenges can be anything from “Climb 15 stairs in 15 minutes,” to “Take 100 steps in 10 minutes.” Accepting a challenge usually costs energy points, but completing a challenge yields more energy points – so challenges are a great way to nab energy points quickly, if you want to advance in MyLand.
The app is pretty cool and it’s free. But there are a couple of problems with it: It can’t track stair count without the help of the Striiv Play device, and it also requires you to carry your phone or iOS device around with you at all times. If you’re looking for a slightly more advanced and convenient tracking system, that’s where the Striiv Play comes in.
The Striiv Play is a small, lightweight device that works with the Striiv app. The Striiv Play is oval-shaped with a plastic case, mirrored glass front, and a brushed metal clip on the back. The device has a small, simple screen that displays your statistics in bright blue characters. To wake up the device and see your stats, all you have to do is press the end of the device (the screen depresses) and you can cycle through your steps, stairs, distance, calories burned, minutes of activity, and time/battery life screens. If you press and hold the screen, you can also toggle Airplane Mode.
The Striiv Play is pretty convenient. It clips easily onto your clothing or bag, so you can still track your movement without having to carry your iOS device around with you. The device checks in periodically via Bluetooth 4.0 with your iOS device, but it will also work if you don’t have your iOS device within Bluetooth range. If, for example, you leave your phone at home and go for a run, the Striiv Play will track your movement and then just check-in with your phone when you get back.
The bottom line
Striiv’s latest product doesn’t replace its original Striiv smart pedometer. As Striiv co-founder and CEO Dave Wang explained to me, the Striiv Play is really for people who have iPhones (and, soon, Android phones), while the Striiv smart pedometer is for people who don’t have smartphones.
There are definite positives and negatives to the Striiv Play app and appcessory combo. The app is great for social motivation; since it’s free, your friends can download it without any obstacles. And it’s constantly connected to the Internet. However, it looks like Striiv has gotten rid of one of the coolest features of its original Striiv smart pedometer, which is the charity tie-in. The original Striiv smart pedometer featured a Walkathon mini-app, which allowed you to “walk” for a cause. Causes included clean water, fighting polio, and saving the rainforest, and were made possible through a partnership with Global Giving.
The Walkathon mini-app was definitely one of my favorite features of the original Striiv, and it was one of the things that really made the device stand out, so it’s disappointing to see that it hasn’t been included in the second generation. However, Wang promises that the app will be updated with more mini-apps and games very soon, so perhaps we’ll see a Walkathon mini-app in the future.
Generic Company Place Holder Play