Basis goes Android-first for delayed app launch

By Jonah Comstock
07:41 am

Basis Band syncingBasis Science, makers of the Basis Band, finally launched their first mobile app, and, notably, it's an Android app. The app currently works on five phones, all from Samsung, but the company promises more to come.

The $199 Basis Band launched last November with Bluetooth connectivity built into all devices, but no mobile app at all. That was something of a surprising move for an activity tracker, but the device had already been in development for nearly two years. Basis' Healthy Habits behavior change software platform has hitherto been available only as a web portal. The company announced the Android app at CES in January, slating it for the first quarter of 2013.

On their blog, the company offered a rationale for the delay. "For those who are curious about why we're slightly delayed: Our engineers wanted to ensure that Bluetooth syncing worked well across all our supported handsets," the company writes. "Since connectivity varies by handset and manufacturer, it took us a little bit more time to ensure that this top-requested feature worked great."

There hasn't been much of a consensus lately on whether it's more important to build for Android or Apple in the activity tracking space. Misfit Wearables recently killed plans to include an Android app at launch for its Shine device, following in the footsteps of Nike, which briefly avowed that it would never develop an Android app before reportedly backing away from that assertion. Meanwhile, both Fitbit and Jawbone have launched Android apps recently to join the iPhone apps they released at launch. However, for Basis to start with Android, a platform generally considered harder and more time-consuming to develop for, especially when Bluetooth is involved, is unprecedented for such a high profile Quantified Self company.

Basis' support of five Android devices trumps Fitbit -- which supported two when it launched its Android app and now supports four -- but falls to Jawbone, which announced support for 12 devices in February and now supports 14. Basis-wearing Apple fans won't have to wait too long, though: The company says its iPhone app is in internal testing and should be out soon.

Basis' Android app just brings the core functionality of Basis' Healthy Habits platform mobile, but mobility does enhance the platform in several ways. The app will run in the background of the phone and sync wirelessly and automatically with the user's Basis Band. Users can check their progress on goals throughout the day and receive notifications from the app when they meet a goal, or reminders when they're not working hard enough toward one. This feeds very naturally into the idea of Healthy Habits.

"We call it 'habits' very intentionally," Basis CEO Jef Holove said in a recent interview with MobiHealthNews. "It's meant to reflect that these are small routines, very acheivable routines that you can build in, really specific concrete things that you can do in your life, even a busy life like we all lead, and make it habitual. And I think that's what leads to the behavior change, which drives long-lasting improvement."

When Basis raised $11.5 million in March in a round led by the Mayfield Fund, Holove said in a statement that the money would be used to scale and meet demand for the product. Holove recently told MobiHealthNews that Basis has finally caught up to all the initial orders for the device and is now "inviting people on the waitlist on a first-come, first-serve basis."


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