If fitness tracking was the big thing during 2013 and early 2014, then life logging is what’s to come, and Sony has got in right at the start. If you purchase Sony’s new Smartband wearable, then you’ll be using the Lifelog app. Initially only compatible with Xperia phones, the app is now available for other Android smartphones. We won’t be talking too much about the device here, and will instead concentrate on Lifelog itself.
The name is appropriate, because Lifelog wants to keep track of everything you do on your phone, the places you visit, the photos you take, the exercise you do, and even the amount of sleep you have. This is both exciting and concerning. Lifelog’s interest in what you’re doing, and the ease with which it keeps track, will undoubtedly put some people off. The app warns that Sony will learn of your activities, without data which could identify you, so it’s perhaps not one for the paranoid. Provided you accept Sony’s privacy agreement, it’s time to enjoy logging your life.
At its most basic, Lifelog keeps a record of the amount of steps the Smartband records each day. By telling it your height, weight and sex, Lifelog will also estimate the number of calories burned, including those used just by being awake. Beyond counting steps, there is a separate measurement for running, but the app doesn’t offer any specific activity tracking. Sony’s Smartband is designed to be worn all the time, and provided you switch it to night mode, it’ll send sleep data back to the app. Sleep data includes time spent in deep and light sleep, and the total time you spend in bed. It presents the information in a graph, similar to the step tracker.
What separates the Smartband and Lifelog app from simple fitness trackers is the Bookmark button. Fitted to the side of the band, a double tap adds a bookmark to the app. Here, you can add a photo, location, and other details, helping you remember every special moment. It’s great fun, and is really what life logging is all about. Think of it like a digital diary integrated with the device you use the most. Like a diary, using Lifelog’s bookmarking feature takes a little work, but it has the potential to be worth it in the long run.
Lifelog’s features don’t end there. It’ll watch out for conversations made using the phone, messages, or Hangouts. The amount of time you spend playing games or reading books is recorded, and even a comprehensive map can be viewed showing where you’ve travelled to each day.
The app is presented in typically attractive Sony fashion. Along the top is a scrolling view of your day, with little icons marking out the important parts. This can be played back like a little video, or scrubbed through to find the highlights. Below the main view you’ll see different coloured blocks representing each activity and tracked statistic. You can set a target for each – 2500 calories to be burned, an hour or ready each day, or eight hours of sleep per night, for example – and the blocks fill with color to indicate how close you are to the target. Everything is simply laid out, and a tap of each statistic provides a detailed breakdown of your day.
Provided you don’t mind an app on your phone keeping such close tabs on your day-to-day activities, using Lifelog is enjoyable and addictive. If you love graphs and data, then it’s enjoyable to see exactly how you spend the time using your phone, exercising, or sleeping. Used over a long period of time, the data gets even more intriguing. To enjoy Lifelog, you’ll need to own and wear Sony’s Smartband, but there are other apps available which don’t require the purchase of a wearable. A particular favourite, and great introduction to the world of life logging, is Saga. At the moment, Lifelog, and therefore the Smartband, is only for Android phones.