Jawbone UP heads to Android, Europe

By Jonah Comstock
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Jawbone UP's new Android app.

Jawbone UP's new Android app.

Jawbone UP made its latest move last week in the increasingly crowded wearable activity tracker field: The company introduced an Android companion app for its wristworn tracker and also launched the UP in Europe, with Asia, Australia, and the Middle East to come.

The multinational launch includes additional support for 11 languages to the iOS app, and the bracelet will be available in 25 additional countries. Apple Stores in Europe have already begun to sell the wristband, and Asian and Australian Apple Stores will start next month, as will other retail partners in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East.

The new app is a free download on Google Play that works with 12 different Android devices in the US and Canada and seven in Europe, according to the company's website. Enabling syncing with all the different devices is one of the things that makes it more complicated for a fitness tracker to support Android than iOS. When Fitbit announced its Android app last month, it announced syncing compatibility with only two devices, and although it promised more to come, additional devices have not yet been added.

As MobiHealthNews reported at the time of Fitbit's Android launch, these moves stand in sharp contrast to the Nike+ FuelBand, whose makers announced definitively on Twitter that they had no plans to launch for Android at all -- perhaps unsurprising, given Apple's longstanding relationship with Nike+.

Jawbone's gung-ho embrace of Android is a bit of a surprise for a company that got its start building iPod speakers, and other connected devices that extended Apple's design aesthetic. Jawbone got into trackers with its original launch of the UP in 2011, a launch that was plagued with problems and ended in a voluntary refund program and a halt on production. The company went quiet in the space for nearly two years, but has since come out strong with the re-incarnated UP bracelet.

Most recently, Jawbone acquired wellness app startup Massive Health. Massive's offerings have yet to emerge as part of Jawbone's product offerings, substantiating suppositions that the acquisition was more of a talent grab.