Jawbone partners with Huawei, echoing Under Armour's HTC deal

By Aditi Pai
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The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona has begun this week, and already, two companies, HTC and Huawei, have unveiled new fitness tracker devices.

HTC's new device, called the HTC Grip is the company's first activity tracking wristworn wearable. The tracker is powered by Under Armour's newly launched app, UA Record, which integrates data from other health apps and devices.

At an investor day focused on Under Armour's digital fitness strategy, CEO Kevin Plank explained that his company's partnership with HTC would include UA putting its “stamp” of approval on HTC's wearables, but also that Under Armour’s Record app will be the app that the HTC wearable feeds its data into. There will be no official companion app from HTC for it, Plank said.

HTC and Under Armour first announced their partnership at CES earlier this year. At the time, HTC said Under Armour designers, sports scientists, and athletes were working closely with HTC’s Connected Products business unit, as well as its design and engineering teams to create products for both professional and amateur athletes. 

The Grip, which is waterproof, tracks speed, distance, calories burned for runs, bike rides, and gym workouts, and sleep activity. The device also features a GPS radio so it can track speed, distance, and pace during a user's workout even when the wearer does not bring their phone along, and the tracker will sync this data to the user's smartphone when they get back. The device also receives call notifications and allows the user to view and respond to messages.

HTC said the device will be available in spring 2015.

Huawei has launched a smartwatch as well, called Huawei Watch, that senses steps, calories burned, altitude, and heart rate. Huawei Watch will automatically detect and track if a user is walking, running, biking, hiking, or sleeping. The watch is similar to Withings' Activite in that it is designed to look and feel like a high end watch while still offering smartwatch capabilities. Users can choose from over 40 analog-style watch faces, receive call notifications, track their health, and check email.

The company also announced that it partnered with Jawbone. Just like HTC-UA, Huawei said it will make Jawbone's UP app the preferred health and fitness tracking system for several Huawei wearable devices, including the company's Talkband activity tracker. The UP by Jawbone app will also be pre-loaded on certain Huawei smartphones in the future, beginning with users in the US.

And while companies like Huawei are creating smartwatches that resemble luxury Swiss watches, at least one actual Swiss watchmaker is planning to release its own smartwatch. Santa Cruz-based Fullpower Technologies, maker of a smartwatch platform called MotionX, partnered with Union Horlogere Holdings to form a Swiss joint venture, called MMT (Manufacture Modules Technologies). The venture aims to bring Fullpower's MotionX platform to the Swiss watch industry. Fullpower’s MotionX Technology powers Nike+GPS and the Jawbone UP's motion sensing features, among others.

The smartwatch, called the Swiss Horological Smartwatch, will not have a screen. Instead, it will be an analog watch that can sense sleep and activity and will send this data to a companion app.