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- Amazon’s Halo View is the company’s second-generation fitness tracker.
- It now has a color touchscreen, but still feels like a basic wearable.
- What makes it great is the app offers unique health insights that other trackers don’t.
When Amazon unveiled its debut fitness tracker, the Halo Band, it didn’t look much different from what was already available. With a screen-less design reminiscent of the Whoop band, Amazon’s first wearable was a household name.
Now there’s Halo View, an updated version that comes standard with a small touchscreen. This gives it another familiar design, but this time it evokes the early generations of the Fitbit Charge.
But what sets these trackers apart from the competition is the companion Amazon Halo app, a platform that analyzes and studies users’ movement, body composition, sleep patterns and diet to provide actionable insights to improve their health.
That alone intrigued me to try it. I tested it tons fitness tracker and after spending a month with the View, I was amazed at how it straddles the line between entry-level and high-end. It costs (as of this writing) only $45, but it offers a wealth of useful feedback that goes beyond a simple “Time to get up” notification.
Below are the highlights of my time with the View, plus a few downsides, as well as what it was like to use something so new and different.
The app is the star of the show
Calling the Halo View experience unique isn’t enough to fully capture how interesting it is to work with both the watch and its companion app. And this dual experience is presented to you right out of the box; you are asked to set the clock and at the same time you are asked to enter information that will give the application a starting point.
I recommend going through these setup processes right away. This includes setting your dietary preferences, recording your voice for tone analysis, a brief movement assessment and a body composition scan. This last part is admittedly a bit tricky as it requires you to strip down to your underwear before using your phone’s camera to scan.
Despite how annoying it might be, it’s one of the main factors that informs what the app recommends each day, whether it’s a fitness routine, what to eat or how much water to drink. It also provides insight into your body fat percentage and how it can affect your overall health.
The app’s recommendations are what ultimately keep its main feed filled with content. This includes personalized health insights about your heart rate or tone of voice, feedback on how you slept the night before, new meal ideas and exercise suggestions.
It’s an endless source of inspiration that very few other fitness tracking ecosystems offer. And almost anyone can benefit from it, from beginners looking to change their lifestyle to those who just want to freshen up their routine or find something new for lunch.
It’s worth noting that while an annual subscription to the app is included with the purchase of Halo View, it costs $4 per month after the trial period ends. You’ll still have limited access to some of its features without a membership, but most of what makes the app so great (i.e main the reason why Halo View is as good as it is) is behind the monthly paywall.
A simple wearable device
The watch itself isn’t anything revolutionary, but it has a familiar style, dressed with a small color touchscreen attached to a polyurethane band.
Although it looks a little cheap, I found it to be quite comfortable, even when I was working up a sweat while running, cycling or lifting weights. And it is only light enough that I barely noticed I was wearing it during the night when I wore it to bed.
The Halo View does all the standard fitness tracker stuff like count steps, monitor heart rate, and display calories burned, but the best part of the wrist experience is how intuitive it is to navigate.
The home screen shows the current date and time, while swiping left and right opens a quick overview of your tracked statistics. Swiping up or down displays a menu for tracking exercise, a deeper view of your activity, and a menu of various tools such as a stopwatch, alarm clock, and timer. This is also where you can adjust settings like night mode or the notifications you receive.
I know none of this sounds terribly exciting in terms of features, but ease of use is important, especially for beginners as they juggle the complexity of the app.
The biggest downside to the Halo View is how incredibly simple and cheap a real tracker is. And I mention this not because it’s something I didn’t want to use, but because for anyone looking for a more modern fitness tracker experience (at least on their wrist), this isn’t it.
There’s something about it that just doesn’t feel like a premium tracker. I’ve compared it to early generations of Fitbit’s Charge, and even that comparison sells the Charge short—there’s a distinct lack of robustness to the Halo View that makes it seem almost like some sort of knockoff or cheap knockoff.
Not for dedicated training
It’s also worth pointing out that when you’re logging an exercise like running outdoors, the watch and app don’t give you an accurate distance reading, just how many steps you’ve taken (as well as the associated activity and calories burned).
This is the biggest drawback of Halo Views because it excludes a large group of people who could benefit from the app’s insights but would also like to know how fast they run a mile or how far they cover on a long bike ride.
Overall, I came away mostly impressed with Halo View. What Amazon has done is create a system that doesn’t just rely on daily collection of fitness metrics, but one that also teaches users how to properly understand and apply what it collects.
Other watches might award you a badge for 10,000 daily steps, but Halo View (and the Amazon Halo app) provides insight into how your steps, sleep, and diet affect and affect your overall health—and a plan for making real improvements. Amazon isn’t the first company to do this, but I found its interface and presentation to be the easiest to digest, which is an important factor for people trying it for the first time.