Amazon just announced a bunch of new tech, including the cute Amazon Astro and its latest fitness wearable, the Amazon Halo View, the latter of which comes with a built-in AMOLED screen. Amazon also added new features to its Halo ecosystem that now challenges the likes of Apple Fitness+, Fitbit Premium and even Garmin's custom OS.
And while most people are preoccupied with drooling over the hardware specs, the real news here are these features which include the Halo Fitness workout library and the Halo Nutrition meal planning service. If these end being any good, Amazon might be able to challenge the Fitbit/Google conglomerate and maybe even big-name fitness wearable brands such as Garmin.
Don't believe me? Let me explain.
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Amazon Halo Memebership: price and availability
According to Amazon, the Halo View will start shipping "in time for the holidays" for a recommended retail price of $79.99. This includes one year of Halo membership. You can sign up to be notified when Halo View is available at Amazon now.
Amazon Halo Membership auto-renews at the end of the 12-month trial period and costs $3.99/month + tax. Compare this with Fitbit Premium ($9.99/month) and Apple Fitness+ (also $9.99/month)
Sport bands are available in 15 colours starting at $14.99 each, in addition to fabric bands in eight colours, leather bands in tan and black, and metal band options, which are all $29.99 each.
Halo Fitness content will start rolling out to members in the Halo app later this year, with live personalised fitness metrics coming next year. Halo Nutrition will be available in January 2022. Both Halo Fitness and Halo Nutrition are included as part of the Halo membership.
There is no information on UK/AUS availability yet.
Halo View: Amazon's judgy fitness band now has a screen
I completely understand why most people would be more interested in new hardware than new software announcements, but Halo View is not that remarkable. It looks just like any other cheap fitness tracker you can find at Amazon but with a Fitbit-like strap. Big deal.
That said, at $79.99, the Halo View is competitively priced and features an AMOLED colour display with haptic feedback. If I'm 100% honest, I'm not sure adding a screen to the Halo was a good move from Amazon: the Halo View doesn't look all that impressive on the press photos and if anything, it makes the Halo View look cheap.
The Halo View does feature an optical sensor to monitor heart rate and blood oxygen, a skin temperature sensor and an accelerometer. It is also swim-proof with up to seven days of battery life. It can fully charge in under 90 minutes.
Most importantly, it can still tell you if you sound sarcastic.
And what a surprise, the Amazon Halo is "temporarily out of stock" at the moment. Conveniently just before the Halo View is about to be released. Well played, Amazon. Well played.
Halo Fitness: trouble ahead for Apple Fitness+ and iFit
The big deal is the inclusion of the Halo membership. The $79.99 asking price of the Halo View includes 12 months of full access to exclusive membership features, workouts, and programs. Said features include Halo Fitness, a library of "hundreds of exclusive, studio-quality workouts for all fitness levels led by popular Halo coaches and trusted industry experts."
At launch, Halo members will be able to choose from cardio, strength, yoga, outdoor, and mobility classes, with "new content rolling out regularly", according to Amazon. Of course, Halo Fitness will be fully compatible with both the Halo View and Halo Band trackers.
Wearing either of the bands will allow you to see real-time fitness metrics such as heart rate and heart rate intensity zone as an on-display overlay. This is terrible news for many big players currently on the market, including Apple's Apple Fitness+, NordicTrack's iFit and Bowflex's JRNY services.
Admittedly, the Amazon Halo View is much cheaper than an Apple Watch or even a Fitbit Versa 3, one of the main features many people will consider first before buying a fitness wearable. The Halo View probably won't be as accurate as the Apple Watch 6, but it's not like the Versa 3 is renowned for its impeccable accuracy.
Halo Nutrition: meal planning made easy
Another exciting new offering is Halo Nutrition. It features "personalised, time-saving tools to discover delicious, nutrient-rich recipes or plan out a week of healthful eating", as Amazon explains.
You can even customise your Halo Nutrition experience in the Amazon Halo App to account for specific allergies and preferences or select from one of seven pre-curated menus: classic, keto, Mediterranean, Nordic, paleo, vegan, and vegetarian.
There is also a library of more than 500 recipes from partners, including WW, Lifesum, Whole Foods Market and more. Better still, you can add ingredients and groceries you need for your meal plan to your existing Alexa Shopping list.
It's similar to the premium subscription in MyFitnessPal or the meal planning feature of the Centr app but with the added benefit of being able to feed your activities into the ecosystem.
Amazon Halo Membership: one to rule them all?
Amazon certainly set the bar high, not necessarily with the Halo View but by adding extra – initially free – services to its Halo ecosystem. Of course, both the Halo Fitness and Halo Nutrition services are rudimentary at this point, but given that it's Amazon we're talking about, I wouldn't be surprised if the workout and recipe libraries exploded with content over time.
Not to mention the integration of the Halo features into the whole Amazon Smart Ecosystem that includes intelligent speakers and now robots that can petrol your home when you're not in. If Amazon plans to be the one-stop-shop to all things smart tech for cheap, it seems to be on the right track to achieve this goal.