Amazon has announced a new feature for its Halo fitness-tracking gadget: Alexa integration. With this new feature, Halo owners will be able to ask Alexa devices for various health stats, such as their sleep score or activity points obtained during the day. The integration will be off by default and owners will need the latest firmware on their Halo bands and the latest version of the iOS or Android app to enable it. Amazon says the feature rollout is starting today, March 4th, and will be continuing over the next week or so.
The Halo band is Amazon’s first fitness-focused product and it’s had a less than stellar reception since it was announced last fall. Aside from the standard fitness things of tracking your movement and sleep patterns, the $99.99 Halo also has the ability to police the tone of your voice and tell you when you’re being dismissive or condescending with your words. The companion Halo app also has a feature to 3D scan your body through your phone’s camera and measure your fat composition. These two unconventional features have been criticized by reviewers at publications like The New York Times and Washington Post (which is actually owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos) for both their invasiveness and inconsistency.
Weirdly, even though the Halo has been available for purchase since the middle of December (it first launched with a limited, invite-only rollout), it is out of stock in all sizes and colors on Amazon right now, with no information on when it might return. I’ve asked Amazon about this and the company declined to comment, though other retailers such as Best Buy appear to have plenty of stock. As of this writing, the Halo has a 3.7-star rating from Amazon customers, compared to the 4.6-star rating the similarly sized and priced Fitbit Inspire 2 holds.
Amazon notes that the Alexa integration only allows for Alexa to provide information related to health data captured by the Halo — Alexa will not be able to do the tone analysis itself. It also will not store the Halo data as part of its responses. There is an option to set a voice PIN to protect access to the Halo data and you’ll be able to opt for a five-minute timeout window after the PIN is entered for easier access to the Halo data in subsequent requests.
Though the Halo integration works with all Alexa-enabled devices, including smart displays, it doesn’t have any special optimization for those that have screens. If you want to see any charts or graphs of your fitness data, you’ll have to go to the Halo smartphone app.
Amazon says Halo owners will be able to disable the integration at any time from the Halo app should they decide they no longer want it, and they can manage and delete voice recordings from their Halo requests in the privacy hub of the Alexa app.