Accessories

Published on January 10th, 2022 | by Mahbub Hasan

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End of software discrimination – Honor Band 6 users finally got the new years gift

I already wrote a review of Honor Band 6 which you can read here. In the first version of the post, I have included the fact that Honor Band 6 did not have as many workout modes as Huawei Band 6, or the 24 hour spO2 monitoring feature. It seems Honor has pushed a new update and it is exciting, especially when this update is pushed in the first month of 2022. So I consider it a new year gift from the Honor software team. Now, we also want to talk about why they deliberately kept it from pushing while Huawei Band 6 had it from the beginning. But first, let’s talk about the update.

What’s new in the version 10.1.1.94?

So the new update brought a little new stuff. The big ones are Continuous spO2 monitoring and 85 more workout modes for Honor Band 6. Mind you that these were already presented in the Huawei Band 6 from the first place and Honor just made both of the devices fair equal with this update.

How to enable continuous spO2 monitoring

The update is coming in batches, and probably I’m the one who got it at the last moment. So you guys may already have the update for your Honor Band 6. If you have not checked yet, I recommend you to open your Health app, navigate to your device section, click on the connected device and click Firmware upgrade. It will check for updates and let you know. Do remember to charge your device above 20% to make sure it does not shut down while upgrading which will cause bricking.

After the update, you will be able to enable Continuous spO2 monitoring via the Health app. After successfully updating the firmware, go to Health > Devices > Click on your device > Click on Health monitoring and from there enable “Continuous spO2 monitoring”. You can even set a low spO2 alert if your blood oxygen falls down to a certain level. On your device, if you go to your spO2 app, you will see your 24 hour data in a chart view. It usually measures your Oxygen Saturation level once every 6 – 8 minutes and how the algorithm works is a mystery to me.

How to access 85 new workout modes

Honor added 85 new custom workout modes that can be accessed after the update. To access these workouts, you have to first update your Honor Band 6 to the latest 10.1.1.94 firmware version. Then you have to go to your app list by pressing the action button (power button) once from the home screen, then go to Workout, scroll to the bottom and click Customize, then click the big orange plus button at the top of the screen. This will give you a list with checkboxes where you can check and add workout modes as per your wish.

Now, I personally think these new workout modes are not that special. Because the modes only have three parameters. Heart rate, time and calorie (which is determined by heart rate at different pacing). For this reason, these new workout modes are called custom workout modes and they don’t do much other than recording these three simple parameters. So practically, they are worth only for one thing, and that is having a different label for different exercises. Personally, I would have been more happy if they added some sort of tracking capabilities in these custom workout modes, but it is what it is.

What other stuff is in this update?

Aside from some minor undocumented bug fixes, this update also brings some design fixes for your Honor Band 6. Older firmwares had a feature where you could swipe to the right and access music control and Alipay screen, but there was no hint of its existence until the new update. So, they added a three dot indicator to indicate that there are more screens accessible from the workout screen. This is crucial because without indication, you could have easily missed it. I actually missed it until the update. Now, I can rest assured that there is an option to change music when a workout session is running.

Why haven’t they added these missing features from the beginning?

We already know there are two names for the same smartband. One is Honor Band 6, and one is Huawei Band 6. With the exception of different firmware and some color options. Now, Huawei advertised two features that were not presented in the Honor Band 6. One is continuous spO2 monitoring and the other one is “tons of workout modes”. Now, these differences in the software made Huawei Band 6 a good choice for many. But the hardware is the same as Honor Band 6. So Honor deliberately kept both of these features off so Huawei can keep selling Huawei Band 6.

Now, Huawei priced their Band 6 at a higher price for no reason other than these two features. Honor and Huawei separated their paths not long ago, but the strong presence of Huawei’s vision and authority is clear even in Honor Band 6. According to Wired:

“For the first time since August 2020, Honor ranked third in Chinese smartphone sales in August 2021, with sales increasing 18 percent month on month, trailing only Vivo and OPPO. Outside of China, however, the buying public is less convinced, with Google failing to make the top five. Senior Counterpoint analyst Varun Mishra attributes this to mid-segment loyalty, as well as the fact that “Honor will also have to rebuild its distribution network.” Then there are increasing component shortages, which will most likely stymie Honor’s expansion in 2021.”

The separation seems to be benefiting Honor a lot because after the separation, Honor no longer has to comply with US sanctions because it is not part of Huawei anymore. This is helping Honor to reach the consumer base Huawei cannot due to the sanction. Wired also wrote:

“Honor is well aware that the industry is watching. During the launch event for the Honor 50, the company’s new flagship smartphone (a rebadged Huawei Nova 9 with a slightly different camera), it emphasized that it has secured over 1,100 long-term cooperation agreements with strategic partners and over 30 suppliers. It also invited a Qualcomm representative onstage to discuss the chip that powers its new phone, while emphasizing the Honor-exclusive camera tweaks. However, with both the Huawei Nova 9 and the Honor 5, it’s clear that Honor hasn’t been able to differentiate the software in time for the launch of its new global flagship. The core Huawei apps (email, browser, and so on) are nearly identical on both phones.”

So it is proved that Huawei and Honor are letting each other do business around both brands. So coming to the Honor Band 6, the main reason Honor did not release it any faster was because it let Huawei Band 6 to be sold with extra benefits. It is like the Software Mafia controlling the consumer base with Software lockdowns. Still, it is good for Honor to unlock these features.

Conclusion

Honor Band 6 users got a new year gift which enabled spO2 continuous monitoring and new 85 custom workout modes. Huawei Band 6 already had these features, so it is great news that the Honor Band 6 is now very similar to Huawei Band 6, and there are no key differences except color variants. This is ofcourse win for Honor Band users because not only it is cheap, but it has become more helpful with the continuous spO2 monitoring.

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About the Author

is a creative professional from Bangladesh. In Technofaq, Mahbub writes articles about design, privacy, technology and life surrounding them.



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