Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Amazfit Bip S vs Bip Comparison - Software

My last post was the day after I received the watch, and now that I have had a few days to play around with it, I have some more findings to share.
In this post I will be focusing on the software experience both on the watch and the app support.

Software on the Watch

The software on the watch is majorly improved compared to the OG Bip. The first thing I noticed was how much smoother animations are when scrolling through menus. Also, the screen can show more colors, so the watchfaces 'pop' a bit more.
On the topic of watchfaces, some of the default watchfaces are customisable, so you can change what info is displayed right from the watch.
One of the default customisable watchfaces. The circles and the date can be swapped out for other info. 
There are two menus that can be accessed from the watchface. By swiping to the left or right, it scrolls through an assortment of widgets, which are rearrangeable in the official app. If you swipe up, it opens notifications just like on the Bip, and if you swipe down it opens a new control center which includes toggles for do not disturb, screen lock, brightness and a button to go to music controls.
The control center
If you press the button on the Bip, it opens the 'app' menu, where the sports tracking, settings, compass and other apps can be found.

You may have noticed that I mentioned music controls earlier, as there is now dedicated on screen music controls on the watch. They can be accessed through the control center or as a widget by swiping left by default.
The music controls on the Bip S
Other than those few things I have not found many differences between the watches. Many of the other menus have just been reskinned, as the similarities make me think the firmware version starting at v2 means it is just an improved version of the Bip's software.

3rd Party App Support

The Good

The Bip S has surprisingly good 3rd party app support as of the time of writing, seeing that many developers don't even have this watch yet. I was successfully able to pair it with the popular Notify and Fitness for Amazfit app, although like the T-Rex and GTS, it requires an authentication code to function without the official app. As of the time of writing, freemyband.com has released a version of their modded app which supports the Bip S, and it works perfectly as I have now uninstalled the official app.
Another surprise was when I completed a swim and it successfully synced to my phone and to my linked Strava account as a swim. 
Also, the Strava syncing of my run was the same as in the app unlike on the Bip where you needed to remove GPS data to make it accurate (at least in Notify and Fitness). 

The Bad

The experience is mostly positive, but I have found a few small issues. 
As I mentioned in my last post, custom watchfaces are currently unsupported. This will hopefully change sometime in the future. 
The other issue is that the menus cannot be arranged without the official app, although you can change them in the official app when you get the Auth code and then uninstall the official app and the changes will stick.
The final issue I have encountered is that sometimes the Notify and Fitness app says the watch is connected but notifications don't appear. This may be a problem with my phone, but it is hard to diagnose.

If you have not yet read my initial impressions. or you would like to see any updates I post on this topic, you can find them here.
If you want to read some of my other reviews, you can find them here.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Amazfit Bip S vs Bip Initial Comparison

Today, my Amazfit Bip S arrived in the mail from Kogan. I ordered it for AU$101.99 around 2 weeks ago.
Amazfit Bip S Box from the Front
Once I opened the box up, the first thing that stood out to me was how similar it is to the original Bip.

After I put them side-by-side though, I discovered that the screens are the same size, but the plastic bezel around the edge of the glass on the Bip S is wider. Also, the glass is less rounded at the edges, hopefully making it less likely to be scratched.
Bip (Left) vs Bip S (Right)
This makes the watch slightly larger, but you can't tell the difference unless they are side-by-side.

Also, the Bip S uses a slightly different charger which is smaller.
Bip S (Left) vs Bip (Right) chargers
The charger is to accommodate the larger heart-rate sensor on the back, which also has PPG functionality.
Heart Rate Sensor on the Bip S
The software experience on the Bip S was surprisingly better than on the Bip. The animations are smoother, the layout of the menus is slightly different, but all-in-all it is a huge improvement. 

Once it goes on sale globally this won't be much of an issue, but at the time of writing third-party app support is minimal, if not non-existent. I was able to pair it with the Notify and Fitness app on Android, but I needed to set it up using the official Amazfit app first. Also, once it is paired, most functionality works, but some key ones don't. For example, custom watchfaces do not work, although the Amazfit app does have about ten different watchfaces to choose from.

I have only been using it for a few hours, but here are my initial findings. In a few days I hope to post an update with more information as I discover it, including testing the GPS and heart rate accuracy, as well as the swim tracking.

If you would like to see any updates I post on this watch, you can find them here.
If you want to read some of my other reviews, you can find them here.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

How to Setup rclone on Linux

Rclone can be installed alongside my recent tutorial on how to install OpenMediaVault with Syncthing, but it can also be installed on any modern Linux machine. This tutorial explains how to configure rclone to backup your files to a cloud storage provider of your choice. 

The setup I detail only allows rclone to read the files on the computer and copy them to cloud storage, and not modify the files on the computer. This means any changes to files on the cloud storage will not be synced to the computer, and that rclone cannot delete your files if you type the sync commands incorrectly.

rclone logo

What is rclone?:

Rclone allows you to copy files to and from cloud storage over the command line. More information can be found here

Install rclone:

  1. Open a terminal session if installing locally or open an SSH session to the remote machine. 
  2. Install rclone via one of these methods:
    1. Go to this link and download and install the relevant binary (recommended):
    https://rclone.org/downloads/
    2. Enter this command into the command line:
    curl https://rclone.org/install.sh | sudo bash

(Optional) Creating a read-only rclone user:

This allows you to create a user that can only read the files, therefore it cannot delete them accidentally. 
  1. Enter this command into the SSH session:
    sudo useradd -G users,ssh,crontab rclone
  2. Now enter this command to add a password:
    passwd rclone
  3. Enter a password when asked. 
  4. Now exit the SSH session and reconnect using the rclone account. 

(Optional) Setting up Google Drive to work better:

By default, rclone uses the same client ID for all users which has a speed limit / API limit. This can be alleviated by creating your own. This is only applicable for Google Drive. 
  1. Go to this URL and login to your Google account:
    https://console.cloud.google.com/
  2. If you have created a project already, click on it's name and go to step 6.
    If not, accept the Terms of Service. Go to the top left and click on Select a Project. 
  3. Go to the top right of the popup and click New Project. 
  4. Enter a project name so you remember what it is for. Leave the project ID unless you know what you are doing. 
  5. Click Create. 
  6. Once it is created, go to the hamburger menu in the top left. 
  7. Click on APIs and Services. 
  8. Click on Enable APIs and Services. 
  9. Search for Google Drive. 
  10. Click on it. 
  11. Click Enable. 
  12. Once enabled,. navigate back to the APIs and Services menu. 
  13. Click on Credentials on the left. 
  14.  Click on Create Credentials, followed by OAuth client ID. 
  15. It will ask you to configure the OAuth Consent Screen If you haven't already. All you need to do is enter a name in the first box, then hit save. 
  16. Select the application type Other and click Create. 
  17. It will show you your Client ID and Client Secret. Keep this window open until later. 

Configuring rclone (all services):

  1. Run this command as the rclone user:
    rclone config
    This command starts the configuration for rclone. 
  2. When it asks what you want to do, type n then press Enter. 
  3. Next it will ask what cloud service you want to use. Scroll through the list until you find the service you want to use. Type it's number into the terminal and hit Enter. 
  4. Go to the section below for your cloud storage provider. 

Configuring Google Drive:

You can find more information here
  1. It will ask for a client ID. If you created one earlier, enter it, or leave it blank. 
  2. Next it will ask for the client secret. Enter it if you created one, otherwise leave it blank. 
  3. Now it will ask for the access scope. Enter 1 unless you know what you are doing. 
  4. Unless you know what you are doing, leave root_folder_id blank. 
  5. If asked for Service Account Credentials, leave it blank. 
  6. When asked if you want to use auto config, enter N as we are on a remote machine. 
  7. It will then show a URL. Enter this URL into your web browser and login to your Google account. 
  8. Allow it access to your Google Drive. 
  9. Copy the code into the terminal and click Enter. 
  10. If asked about Team Drives, type n. 
  11. It should now show you your configuration and ask if everything is correct. If it it, type y and you are done. 

Configuring other services:

Details for all the services including an example setup for each can be found here.

Creating a scheduled sync:

  1. Login as the rclone user or the user you setup rclone with. 
  2. Open crontab using crontab -e
  3. If it asks you to select a text editor, select your favourite (I use nano). 
  4. Go to the very bottom of the file. 
  5. Enter the following command:
    rclone sync <source-folder> <rclone-config-name>:<destination-folder>
    Fill in all the gaps with your settings. Just make sure the source folder and destination folder don't get mixed up, as it may erase files. This is why the read-only rclone user is good. 
  6. Copy the line above for each folder you have. 
  7. If you are using Google Drive, it is also recommended you include the following command to remove duplicate files it creates for no apparent reason:rclone dedupe --dedupe-mode <interactive, skip, first, newest, newest, oldest, largest, smallest, rename> "<rclone-config-name>:<destination-folder>"
    More info about this command can be found here

Conclusion:

Hopefully this is useful to someone who wants to backup their data to the cloud on a regular basis. 

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