Alexa, show me a corporate pivot to fitness tracking.
Amazon announced that its Alexa-powered Echo Buds will soon have support for data-tracking related to user workouts. In the coming days, users will be able to prompt the voice assistant with the command, “Alexa, start my workout,” and the buds will begin tracking data about calories burned, distance covered, as well as pace. According to TechCrunch, commands also include the ability to tell Alexa to end a workout, pause a walk or run, or reveal how far you’ve run or walked as well as the pace for the workout.
CNBC reported that Echo Buds users can enable the feature from their Alexa app by selecting Create Workout profile from the Workouts menu under Account Settings. Users will then be able to see their Buds data by navigating to their devices within the Alexa app, selecting Echo Buds from the Echo & Alexa option, and choosing Workouts.
The ability to track fitness data with a pair of earbuds that significantly undercut products offered by other fitness-focused tech giants like Apple sure sounds appealing—at the time of this writing, Echo Buds were discounted to just $80 (from $130) on Amazon, far below the price of a pair of AirPods or AirPods Pro, for example. That might make the Amazon buds a no-brainer for folks who want the benefits of fitness tracking without having to drop hundreds of dollars on a pair.
But Amazon also hasn’t indicated that it’s given this whole pivot-to-fitness thing a long hard think prior to pulling the trigger on its other fitness products. The company recently debuted Amazon Halo, whose “body composition tool” uses your own smartphone to track your body fat percentage, which a user can then adjust to see what they might look like with more or less of it on their person. Yikes. It should be stated that body-scanning doesn’t give a total picture of your health, and it certainly shouldn’t be used in place of a conversation with your doctor to determine what’s best for your overall health.
The Buds seem mostly harmless. But taken with Amazon’s questionable overall approach to fitness and health, it’s worth asking yourself whether it makes sense to buy into Amazon’s fitness ecosystem or save up for something that’s, you know, a little less cringe.