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Amazon is expanding its wearables portfolio, after introducing the screenless Halo fitness band last year. Today, the company announced a new version with a display called the Halo View, and at just $80, it's cheaper than the original. It also announced new programs called Halo Fitness and Halo Nutrition as additions to the existing Halo subscription program.
The new Halo View looks very similar to Fitbit's Charge series, with an AMOLED color screen and haptic feedback. It will display your activity history, live workout tracking, sleep scores, blood oxygen levels and, according to Amazon, "text and move notifications."
The device has an optical heart rate monitor, skin temperature sensor and accelerometer, and is swim-proof. Amazon said it should last up to seven days and a full charge will take "under 90 minutes." While we don't have a complete spec sheet yet, the company's press release currently doesn't mention an onboard microphone. Not only does this mean you might not be able to use a voice assistant or dictate any replies to messages, it also indicates the company's controversial Tone feature might not be supported.
The company's statement does say that Tone and other Halo features like body-composition scanning (via your phone's camera) will be supported via the companion app. According to a spokesperson, "Unlike Halo Band which includes a microphone that enables users to capture speech samples throughout the day, Halo View does not include a microphone. However, Halo View customers can still take advantage of Live Mode for Tone, which is an in-app membership feature and not dependent on the band. Live Mode for Tone enables you to analyze your tone in real-time."
As a refresher, Tone was launched with the original Halo, and, with your permission, used that band's mics to listen to you throughout the day. It would then detect the way you're speaking and tell you if you sound stressed, angry, happy, excited and more. The idea was that your tone of voice was a better indicator of your mental health and how much distress you might be experiencing.
But not only did the idea of Amazon policing the way you speak sound dystopian, in practice it also wasn't very useful. I tested the Halo's Tone feature and it wasn't always accurate, especially since I couldn't recall every single instance it logged, and the system doesn't record snippets of audio to remind you, either (for better or worse).
Like the original, the Halo View will not only cost you some money for the hardware, but you'll also have to spend an additional $4 a month to use many of its features. Body composition, activity intensity and scores, movement health guides, sleep scores and stages are things you won't get without paying the fee.
Amazon is adding more content to its Halo package though, introducing Fitness and Nutrition programs today at no extra cost. These are very similar to what Fitbit offers in its Premium plan, offering guides for working out, eating and sleeping better. As is its modus operandi, Amazon is undercutting Fitbit, since the latter's Premium is twice as pricey at $10 a month.
We're still awaiting more details from Amazon on the Halo View's specific dimensions, screen size and more, and the device isn't available for sale at the moment. You can "sign up to be notified when Halo View is available," the company said. Fitness content will roll out to the Halo app later this year, though, while Nutrition will be available in January 2022. Regardless, the View is available in three colors, green and lavender, though you can also swap the bands out for something you prefer.
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