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Why the Nike Fuelband SE Experience Sucks Without an Android App

nike fuelband se android

Last month, Nike introduced the world to its new fitness band, the FuelBand SE, as a follow-up to its original wearable activity tracker. I was excited at the time even though the story of the original FuelBand in relation to Android users is not a pretty one, to say the least. With the introduction of the newest version and its brand new feature-packed iOS app, I had high hopes of Nike seeing the light or at least recognizing that Android is the most popular and widespread mobile operating system on the planet. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to care because Android manufacturers aren’t Apple. I didn’t make that up, their VP of  Digital Sport actually said that. So once again, there is no Android experience for the Nike FuelBand SE, only a web portal that fails to provide access to any of the new useful features that are included in the iOS app.

But you know what, I still bought the damn thing. 

Call me a fool, hypocrite or dumbass, but I do have reasons. You see, I have years invested in Nike’s Nike+ system, my friends all use it, and do not really want to start all over with someone else. I picked up the original FuelBand back in February of 2012, only a month after it was announced, but also while it was impossible to buy thanks to demand. I’m an early adopter, what can I say. As you can imagine almost two years later, I’ve racked up quite the Fuel point balance and am not exactly ready to ditch all of my hard earned work. I’ve amassed over 2 million Fuel points alone, but since I’m a runner, have also added on another couple of hundred thousand thanks to use with a Nike+ watch. Working out with Nike products is simply something I do.

nike fuelband se android

The decision to buy the new FuelBand SE wasn’t an easy one, though. As the pre-orders opened for the new FuelBand SE, I contemplated ditching the whole system altogether for the new Fitbit Force, but then my original FuelBand died out of no where on me before I had made a final decision. I was then left with an immediate choice to make, which ended up being to not give up on Nike+ and either hope for Android compatibility later on, or at least take advantage of the web portal and all of the new features that Nike introduced during the SE’s unveiling.

Thankfully, I also own one of the newest iPod Touch models for testing purposes, so I was able to give this new app a spin, but also see how it compares to that web experience.

And that’s where this post comes in. Outside of some UI tweaks to make it modern, the web portal is exactly the same as it was with the original FuelBand. So while Nike stood on stage bragging about all of the new features in the FuelBand SE, you really can only take advantage of them if you have an iOS device paired to your band. We’re talking all of the new Sessions tracking, creation of groups and interaction with friends, and most importantly, the hourly goals and reminders to get your butt up and moving.

nike fuelband se android

The FuelBand SE when paired with the iOS FuelBand app does some really cool things. Probably the most important for workout junkies is the hourly reminders it can send you on your iOS device to make sure you stay active for at least 5 minutes within that hour. If you hit hourly goals regularly, you are rewarded with trophies and can share them with friends in groups you have created. Well, only if you have the iOS app. Without the iOS app, you can’t create groups, comment on friends’ activities, or share your goals. Well, you can through Twitter and Facebook, but not inside the shiny new Nike+ social network.

And speaking of this new social group feature, it really is locked to the iOS app. There is no way to create a group of friends through the web portal (at least that I can tell from a variety of sessions with it). From within the app, it’s super simple thanks to a “Groups” option in the hamburger menu, along with buttons throughout that will help you establish new groups, add friends, and begin posting activities that include photos. It’s actually a really neat way to challenge friends, see how you stack up, talk trash, and potentially enjoy working out more.

The other big new feature that Nike introduced were Sessions, which are tag-able activities that could be anything from basketball to skateboarding to playing golf to sleeping. They are essentially a breakdown of a “session” or activity you are performing at the time, so that Nike can show you  intensity levels and how many points you earned in a snapshot. Of course, you can also share your results to those groups we previously mentioned. But like the other features, this stuff can only really happen to its fullest while using an iOS device and the companion app.

nike fuelband se android

Now, I should point out that there are still ways to track hours won throughout the day, and even initiate a generic Session, but without a companion app like the one on iOS, you have to take off your FuelBand and plug it into a computer to sync any of that information. You would also have to find the Session you started earlier, tag it, and then attempt to share with friends (only through Twitter and Facebook). It’s like a less-than-half-baked experience. Why is it that they can’t bring features from the app over to the web? If you aren’t going to give non-iOS users an app, at least give them something similar to use while you decide whether or not Android peasants users are worthy.

And I think that’s what drove me to this post. Nike has created this really amazing product (vastly improved over the original FuelBand) for both workout freaks and someone looking to kickstart a healthier life, but yet they are only giving the full experience to a group of users who they seem to think are on this superior level with their brand. I hate to call them completely unattached from reality, but that’s kind of the way it feels. Their reasoning for not giving us an Android experience is partly due to the lack of Bluetooth LE support in Android devices. Look, we get that. We also get the fact that the original FuelBand didn’t use Bluetooth LE (4.0), yet Nike still couldn’t give us an app.

But the other reason, which also strikes us as the #1 reason in their book, is that they have partnered with Apple to create an experience that they deem to be like none other. Nike seems to think that because Apple has a select few handsets, and that “they set the bar high for themselves as well as others,” that iOS is the only platform worthy of a partnership with the FuelBand. That right there, is complete bullsh*t. Forget the fact that smaller companies like Fitbit can create amazing experiences on both platforms, as do countless other app developers with far less resources, but Nike can’t even get their own app right. The new FuelBand app on iOS always feels like it’s struggling to work. I have seen at least a couple of strictly bug fixing updates since launch, slow Bluetooth pairing without much control, and often times a level of frustration that boils over into me ripping the FuelBand off my wrist and plugging it into a computer to get it to sync properly. Maybe the real reason we don’t have an Android app is because Nike sucks as a tech company?

I know that all seems like a lot of wasted breath over a product and company that has turned up its nose as the platform we enjoy, but it needed to get off my chest. I’ve been a massive Nike fan since my childhood days, but this whole idea that you can get a similar experience with their FuelBand without an iOS app continues to rub me the wrong way. Like I said previously, it’s less-than-half-baked, yet if you don’t own an iOS device you are still paying full price for a product that doesn’t include a number of highlighted features. You are also hoping that an Android manufacturer comes along at some point, puts their CEO on the board of Nike, and tries whatever they can to align with the athletic giant’s “values.” Until then, be prepared for life as a second rate FuelBand user.

  • running is life

    our running club just agreed to go with fitbit. there are only 18 of us but we agreed to move with a common platform doe ios and andriod users can share information. all my years of buying nike products has now changed.

  • frankie

    Well I just got the the band for Christmas and let me tell you what a disappointment not to be able to pair my Galaxy s4 with my band. I also agree that the exclusive use of ios is total BS too .

  • Christopher Carr

    FWIW, Misfit Wearables is about to announce an Android app for their Shine device.

  • Tony

    One of the reasons why I don’t buy any nike stuff. All my runners are Adidas. No android no nike

  • disqus_rojgPJ2Lb2

    My original fuel band is on its last leg. Also, been a big fan of the Nike+ which I’ve been using for many years. I will NOT buy the next fuel band as I am an Android user. I’ve held on to my iPad 2 only because of my fuel band and I’m ready for a new Android powered tablet. Nike + will go into the garbage, they’ve lost me as a consumer and I will not forget how nike essentially told me to F&ck off.

  • Aime Eerin

    I’ve amassed over 2 million Fuel points alone

  • durangojim

    Sucks to be a fanboy

  • ビッググリーン

    Amiigo is going to be better

  • Waqas Khan
  • Edward Smith

    Considering Nike’s official “FU” policy regarding Android I’m kinda surprised someone hasn’t written some fairly nasty malware for the iOS Fuelband app.

  • Patrick Crumpler

    Why buy it? I love gadgets and stuff. But if it isn’t on both I don’t buy it.

  • poooooooooooooooots

    butthurt much, kellen? i have no idea if nike sucks as a tech company but off your assessment, so does the majority of android handset makers. slow, bug fixes required, slow wireless connections….sounds exactly like android. maybe you should also go get another phone.

  • Vermin_Cain

    Stop crying about about it already… If they don’t want to make an app for Android, it’s their loss. There are plenty of other fitness bands out there.

  • http://mamorgan1.tumblr.com/ Matt Morgan

    @Kellen I am also a Nike+ user and have been for a few years. I don’t have the Fuel Band, mostly due to lack of Android support, but I use the Nike+ app on my Galaxy Nexus when I run. I have 750+ miles on Nike+ so I am in deep. Nike is a crappy tech company, that is all I have been able to come up with over the years. They have this amazing/wonderful Nike+ platform that you can actually get people to engage with and yet they can’t update the software so you can really take advantage of it. I have a bunch of friends on Nike+, but we can’t challenge each other as they disabled that a long time ago and despite promises have not re-enabled it. The Nike+ app is buggy as hell on Android and it doesn’t consistently reward badges. Oh and on the topic of badges, why don’t they consistently reward holiday badges? 2012 yes, 2013 no, but sometimes randomly.

    This is an ecosystem that would be so stinking easy to improve and grow and yet these dummies do nothing. It’s almost like they don’t want it to succeed, I can’t explain it. I know this has just turned into a rant, but it pisses me off on a near daily basis. If I leave Nike+, I would have to get my friends to leave and that isn’t happening. Also, why can’t they create a single wrist based device that can track fuel points and also track my runs? Make it $300 if you need to.

    Don’t even get me started on the stupid narrow ass shoes that they sell, seriously, you can’t make your shoes a little wider or possibly offer them in a wide variety? I don’t have freaky wide feet…ugh. This is getting weird so I’ll end here.

    • Vermin_Cain

      Nike is getting paid by Apple to not have the fuel band Android Compatible… Remember, Tim Cook is on the board of Nike.

  • http://www.twitter.com/b_boogey_xl b_boogey_xl

    I wonder if there’s a Google+ group of Nike FuelBand users to create their own experience (if not, there should be).

  • Jason King

    I have the original fuel band that I bought in June of 2012. I am currently on my 5th unit due to either hardware failure, software failure, or failures by customer service. I originally bought the band because Nike stated that an Android app was in the works and would be available around the end of 2102. Nike then stated they weren’t going to support Android and had no future plans to support it. Big thumbs down and disappointment for me. So I have no plans to support and purchase any additional fuel band devices. If my current unit fails outside of the warranty then that will be the end of my partnership with the Nike Fuel Band products. I will then move onto a product that supports Android and wants my business.

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    You’re just addicted to imessage because all your friends wear it. Nike has always been the Apple of sportswear (quality and sales). If your going to write on DL, you need an android user mentality. Invest in open platforms, see the potential in products with short lifespans. Do you even believe in it? You know…the way you believe in Google…?

    side note: smartwristbands/watches will kill this product. FuelBands and Fitbits are like phones that aren’t smart, one trick ponies. Waterproof Moto Actv + pebble with Google Now, anyone? Waterproofing can even be left out for a couple gens.

  • Aaron

    Everyone really should vote with their money. If Nike is going to sell millions (or however many) with or without supporting Android, why should they care if you aren’t happy with their choice to only support iOS?

  • jamdev12

    Kellen,

    All I can say is that I think you made the wrong choice. Here are my reasons why:

    1. When the piece of hardware that you had for a year breaks, tells me its time to move on to something else. Fuelband seems to be as crappy as Nike shoes.
    2. If they really would pay attention (Nike) all laptops have Bluetooth, you mean to tell me that they can’t have the web portal app be able to use APIs within MacOS X or Windows to sync your data. Epic fail number 2.
    3. The limitation is not the amount of devices that are out there. Probably from the app perspective, but with the newer versions of Android there isn’t much crap you have to do to make this work. Also all of the same APIs for Bluetooth are the same across the Android ecosystem.

    So I do understand that your friends use it and that’s all fine and dandy, but you must also understand that when you have a company that is willing to enclose you in what they think is the only possible solution to your problem, it is time to ditch whatever product they have for something that will let you choose whatever platform you want to be in. I don’t like people, companies or goverments dictating what I like and don’t.

    • Daeshaun Griffiths

      The only thing i can think of is that without his friends, he wouldn’t care about points or running. Nike is just a trusted brand, like Apple

    • Mike Hilal

      tl:dr

      Because Apple.

  • Mike Hilal

    You know Tim Cook is on Nike’s board….right?

    • StuckOnVerizonForever

      Yet google has all these good apps on iOS. ..lame

      • Mike Hilal

        Clearly google is trying to be the bigger man….and make money off isheep in the process.

        • flosserelli

          Apple is counting on selling the same crap to the same people (primarily Americans) year after year. Google is more diversified.

          • Aime Eerin

            Working out with Nike products is simply something I do.

      • Aaron

        The difference is how Apple and Google make their money. Even though Android accounts for 80% of the market, Apple makes more money off of devices sold because they own their own hardware, software and ecosystem. Google makes their money from ad revenue and meta data. That’s why Google doesn’t mind their apps on iOS. It doesn’t matter to them which platform you use so long as you are using their services.

  • JDub

    Well if you’re going to use an ipod for the damn thing, I guess you have a reason to get it and not complain.

  • Droid Ronin

    Just bought myself a Fitbit Flex a few weeks ago and stayed away from Nike+ because of the lack of Android support. but just found out that the FitBit app still needs to be updated to sync with the Moto X. :(

  • http://www.vinsonimages.com yamaha83

    im still waiting for my Amiigo to come out!!!

    • chris13417

      Any idea when these will be available for purchase?

  • Jeff H

    I don’t want to call you names that might belittle your intellect but Tim Cook is on Nike’s Board of Directors. Did you ever really think there was ever a chance that Nike would develop an Android app?

  • calculatorwatch

    “I own a FuelBand SE, and I will probably get the next FuelBand, but you shouldn’t get one until they support Android” ;)

    • Blue Sun

      I see what you did there & was thinking the same thing.

  • scotch1337

    It makes, look at who is CEO of Apple and who is on the board of directors for Nike.

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  • MrMLK

    You don’t seem to understand that its people like you who keep Nike from coming out with an Android version. If you are going to buy it anyhow, why would they go through the effort of supporting Android.

    Its foolish of you to complain about a problem that you are causing.

    • JRUIV

      Couldn’t they sell more units if they made it compatible with Android?

      • Sqube

        They could. But it’s easier to just support iOS. But the vastly more relevant part is that Tim Cook is on the board of directors.

        Yeah.

        • michael arazan

          Apple and Nike also swap employees, executives from what I read, between the companies as well. They are in total collusion with each other.

          • Aime Eerin

            have also added on another couple of hundred thousand thanks to use with a Nike+ watch.

    • scotch1337

      You mean because android users don’t usually buy apps? If that is what you mean, the app itself is free. You would need to buy the product, which people would do

      • Sqube

        I think he means that you can’t simultaneously complain about Nike not supporting Android and then also buy the product, thereby demonstrating to Nike that there’s no reason to support Android.

        • scotch1337

          That would be true

        • MrMLK

          Exactly.

    • Rodney Figueroa

      Maybe you should look on the company’s site and scan through their Board of Directors.

    • Nexus 6

      Agreed. This article is seemly, pointless

      • Aime Eerin

        but since I’m a runner.

  • MikeCiggy

    The original died out of nowhere? That’s a planned life span my friend.

  • Derek Duncan

    It doesn’t make sense either because Nike has the Nike+ GPS Running app on Android and it’s pretty good. I use it with my Nike+ GPS watch. Not sure why they don’t make a FuelBand app.

    • Lucky Armpit

      That’s an excellent point. I had the NIke+ Running app on my old phone and had zero issues with it. So their excuses aren’t valid, period.