The Jawbone UP's audio connector
November 07, 2011
Perusing the official Jawbone UP forum, we caught a complaint about the UP not including bluetooth. It’s true that Jawbone devices have to date been built around bluetooth, so why require the UP to be physically plugged into your iPhone in order to synchronize data?
The simple answer is that bluetooth is a battery drain, even if you only turn it on to synchronize. A full charge on the UP is estimated to last around 10 days, and a bluetooth module would cut that number down. Further, adding a method to turn bluetooth on and off on the UP increases the complexity of the device, whereas in its current state, it has one button used only to switch between active and sleep modes (and maybe workout mode if that’s your thing).
There’s another answer too, and one that we hope went into Jawbone’s market analysis. The UP is designed to be worn all day, and that means for certain professions, walking around with a bluetooth device strapped to your wrist is a big no-no. From pilots to doctors to defense contractors, some people aren’t supposed to have devices that transmit data wireless on them in certain environments, and this means that a bluetooth-enabled UP would have a smaller customer base than the UP that Jawbone shipped.
We wondered at first why the UP uses an audio port to transfer data, and not a USB cable that plugs into the iPhone’s dock connector. It turns out, just as wireless devices are a no-no in certain work environments, the same is true for devices that can be connected via USB to a desktop. While Jawbone did ship the UP with a charge-by-USB cable, the fact that the UP doesn’t transmit data via USB means it should be an acceptable device in environments where things like USB drives are not.
Overall, an excellent move by the UP’s designers to go with a unique audio-based interface for synchronization.