Nike has been one of those companies that have pledged allegiance and developed a long-lasting relationship with Apple, collaborating on multiple projects, apps and accessories, creating the Nike+ program for activity tracking and making all sorts of reveals exclusive to iOS or the iPod line in the past. Well, now Nike has finally brought over an app compatible with their latest activity tracker, the Nike Fuelband, over to Android. This is an unexpected and sudden move, seemingly out of the blue and with no announcements or major focus, and yet there is already some controversy because of the app. But why is that? Let’s take a look and find out.
Ever since Nike developed these hardware sensors and wearable accessories, Android users have asked and begged for a compatible app on their platform. Nike has never answered their prayers, giving all sorts of poor excuses and reasons for why their hardware remained unsupported on the Android platform. So, effectively, the Nike+ program was an exclusive for Apple. Now, Nike has finally decided to give Android some love and release an app compatible with the Fuelband, their latest activity tracker, featuring integration with their online services, sleep tracking and the well-known “NikeFuel” points system. This move is sort of baffling, because it comes in the wake of over 2 years without any hint of Android support. Even worse, Nike has very recently decided to do mass layoffs in the division responsible for Fuelband and other wearable tech and accessories, and many users speculate that the Fuelband project is as good as dead, with no updates in the horizon, save for new colors. Nike claims it will continue to sell the latest model of their Fuelband, the Fuelband SE, but there are no rumblings of new products coming out.
However, as good news as this new Android app may be, Nike have also dropped the ball in some of the most important aspects of the app. The fact is, the app has feature parity with the iOS version, and you can do the same on Android as you can on iOS. It works fine, looks about the same and seems mature enough to be used regularly without any major issues. However, while the number of features is excellent, the same can’t be said of the hardware support. Right away, the app doesn’t support the original Fuelband at all. In order to use it, you must have a current gen Fuelband SE. Considering the product is relatively new, and that there are only 2 models of it out there, this seems like a really crappy move, and I’m not so sure if there is a real reason for it. Then, when it comes to the actual mobile phone support, you may also run into some problems. You would think the app would just work with any Android device with 4.3 Jellybean and Bluetooth LE support, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. However, the app’s description does mention that it has been tested for a handful of select devices, including popular models such as the Galaxy line, Moto X, Nexus 5 and HTC One.
If you’re interested, you can get the Fuelband app for free by heading over to this Play Store link. While it’s nice to finally get some Nike love in Android, it’s a shame that it comes like this, and that it comes 2 years late. Hopefully this will be a good sign that the company is more focused on expanding over to Android, but considering the rumors of impending cancellation and the fact that the app arrived this late, it doesn’t look good. Also, with Android Wear being a thing and smartwatches probably ending up replacing these sort of devices, unless Nike steps up their game, this really might just be too little, too late. Still, it’s a nice bonus for Fuelband SE users, and it’s better late than never.