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.

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