With Apple Watch squeezing the high end of the fitness tracking market, and the just-IPOed Fitbit looking more powerful than ever, you’d think now would be a bad time to launch the Moov Now. Another activity-tracking wearable? Doesn’t the world have enough already—especially at that commodity-level $100 price point?
But take a look at the Moov Now feature set. It doesn’t look like anything we’re seeing from the big wearable players. Indeed, what’s inside the Moov platform may be just enough to make the Moov Now relevant in today’s crazy-crowded wearables space.
Naturally, the Moov Now does step tracking. And it even does sleep tracking—a trick that wasn’t available in the original Moov. But the truly novel feature is real-time coaching feedback in a wide variety of exercise programs. The Moov Now may be alarmingly inexpensive given its special pre-order price of only $60 on the company’s website. But it would seem to pack a powerful (and eclectic) punch.
The Moov Now bag of tricks
Let’s start with table stakes: simple forward movement. Strap the Moov Now on your ankle. Choose the Run & Walk program, and the smartphone app will push real-time coaching feedback directly into your earbuds as you jog. “Step quicker... Push off the ground more... Your cadence should be at 160.” The wearable’s motion sensors track the position of your feet in real-time, allowing Moov Now to deliver data you just won’t get from competing fitness bands. And not only does it coach you on pace, it also tries to correct bad form.
Naturally, workouts can be adjusted for various fitness and experience levels. But the platform goes beyond simple bipedal motion. The Cardio Boxing workout will simulate the call-and-response shadow-boxing routines of a gym coach: Much like how Guitar Hero displays visual cues for playing specific chords, the Moov app displays icons for specific punches: jab, jab, uppercut, hook, jab.
If you punch accurately and quickly enough—remember, the motion sensors are tracking your wrist movement in 3D space—you’ll earn a high score. The Cardio Boxing workout also supports two Moov Nows, one on each wrist, for a more complete workout experience.
There are also exercise programs for cycling and bodyweight training, but the really interesting program is for swimming. The Moov Now is waterproof down to three meters, so you can wear it in the pool. The Swim program doesn’t provide real-time coaching, but once you’re out of the pool, you can check data on lap times, flip-turn times, and stroke rate.
And by the time Moov Now ships this fall, the Swim program should have support for tracking two Moov wearables at the same time for ever deeper swimming data.
The differences between Moov and Moov Now
The original Moov launched last year, and the company’s CEO, Meng Li, likes to brag it’s the highest rated fitness tracker on Amazon. (I checked. It rates at 4.5 stars, a score shared by a few other trackers.) Overall, the Moov Now isn’t a dramatic departure from the original, but battery life has been improved from 24 hours to up to six months thanks to the move to a standard CR2032 watch battery. That’s a huge pain point relief.
There’s also a new processor that’s twice as fast, and will deliver better Bluetooth performance. But the most forward-facing difference is a new physical design. The updated band is lighter and slimmer, and has holes for “breathability.” In total, Meng Li says, the Moov Now is just more comfortable to wear during workouts—and when you go to bed. Thus the addition of sleep tracking in the latest model.
The little Moov Now pod that sits inside the band comes in Blue, Red, White and Black, offering some degree of personalization. I tried on a few models, and they strapped on reasonably easily. But if you’re wearing anything approaching a traditional-looking wristwatch, the blatant sportiness of the Moov Now just doesn’t accessorize nicely.
As for the Moov software platform, it now integrates all of its exercise programs in a single app. Currently there are 10 programs with 200 variations and fitness levels, and Moov says more are coming.
And all this matters why?
The fitness wearables market is full of many more losers than winners. Gadgets like Apple Watch and Fitbit enjoys tons of public mindshare, and do juuuust enough to satisfy wearable-curious dabblers who are satisfied with simple data sets. This spells bad news for simple, cheapo fitness trackers—of which there are way too many to name. But it feels like you can buy fitness trackers out of gumball machines. That’s how cheap and chintzy they’re getting.
The Moov Now is freakishly cheap too—but it does a lot. And it does so without going down the problematic rabbit hole of heart-rate tracking, and at a price point anyone can explore. I hate to use this word, but ouch: The Moov Now has the potential to be borderline... disruptive. We’ll see how it performs in its official review this fall.