Samsung Gear Fit 2 voice guide at intervals not working at all: The Fix.

This is a really short note to help other people trying to get their broken Samsung Gear Fit 2 voice “guide at intervals” to work.

In short, by activating the “guide at intervals” function on the Gear Fit 2, you can get a synthesised voice to give you all kinds of stats while you are running with bluetooth earphones. In my case, I set it up to give me distance, pacing and heart rate information every 0.5 km. This helps me to control my pace and extend my run.

After a recent phone swap, my Gear Fit 2 stopped giving me any kind of voice guidance. The music would continue playing, but at the first 0.5 km point when the voice guidance should have piped up, the watch would jump back to the watch face, instead of staying in the exercise app.

As seems to be par for the course with the Gear Fit 2, this was highly frustrating behaviour, with no help from the phone user interface or any of the Samsung documentation.

After some to-and-fro on the Samsung forums, Dutch user BarryNL came up with the answer.

It turns out that if the phone language is set to anything other than “English (US)”, the voice guidance seems to crash the running app, dumping you at the watch face during your run.

I switched my phone from “English (South African)” to “English (US)”, rebooted the phone, then rebooted the Gear Fit 2, and finally went out for a quick test walk.

Samsung Gear Fit 2 voice guide at intervals was back!

I am really happy to have this core feature back, and to have the exercise app stay active until the end of my run. However, this undocumented behaviour, as well as the fact that the watch, which has more than enough processing power and a beautiful display, does not give any kind of feedback to help the user correct the issue, makes for an extremely frustrating experience.

Fixing the Samsung Gear Fit 2 GPS lock delay when running without phone

For the past few runs, I noticed that my Gear Fit 2 would only lock onto GPS after more than 0.5 km. By “noticed”, I of course mean “got super frustrated with and considered briefly throwing the gadget onto the ground and arranging for its utter disintegration through repeated jumping on it”.

Besides losing the first 0.5 km of my run data, the pacing information, delivered via synthesised voice, would be wildly inaccurate for the rest of my run.

Judging by this 22 page thread on the Samsung community forums, there are other users who were also less than happy that the Gear Fit 2 built-in GPS does not seem to work as advertised. Understandably, people bought the gadget in order to be able to go running without having to lug their smartphones along.

Fortunately, it turns out the explanation is quite logical, although Samsung really has to do better to communicate this to their users.

Why does my Gear Fit 2 take so long to acquire a GPS lock?

In short, at the start of my run, my smartphone was lying on my desk one floor up. At that point the Gear Fit 2 still had a bluetooth connection to the phone, and it was planning to use the phone GPS instead of its built-in unit. As far as I know, the gadget’s use of the phone’s GPS is not well known.

As the distance between me and the office building increased, the Gear Fit 2 obviously lost the bluetooth connection to the smartphone. With the current firmware (R360XXU1BPL1 at the time of writing), it takes the Gear Fit 2 about 0.5 km to realise that the connection is really lost, and that it should switch to its built-in GPS.

This as all pretty logical, but highly frustrating when you don’t know what’s going on. Samsung clearly has to do better.

The Fix

Knowing what the issue is makes the fix pretty straight-forward.

Before starting your run, disable bluetooth on your smartphone, and wait for the Gear Fit 2 to register loss of the connection. It should vibrate on your wrist, and then show a little rectangle at the top right of the display, like this:

Samsung Gear Fit 2 should recognise that it has lost connection with the phone, as shown by the rectangle at the top right.

You can now start the exercise app and then start your run.

This morning, my Gear Fit 2 acquired a GPS lock almost instantly. You can see this by the location icon which briefly flashes and then stays on (it’s very important that you ensure that it stays on before running off), and by the fact that the on-screen distance gauge (you only see the distance gauge if you have set a distance target) starts climbing immediately.

(Update: I’ve had more runs since. Sometimes the GPS struggles for half a minute or more to get a lock, with the location icon remaining in the flashing state. In these cases, I sometimes stop the run, and start over, until that damned flashing location icon goes stable. Frustrating.)

Samsung Gear Fit 2: Even casual runners should think twice.

For the price, the Samsung Gear Fit 2 packs a lot of features.

However, between this undocumented (as far as I can see) and sometimes plain frustrating GPS behaviour, the voice guidance which breaks easily and mysteriously (see another post of mine on that issue and how to fix it), and the battery life (a 40 minute run with music and GPS can use up 30% to 40% of the battery), slightly more serious casual runners (strange category, I know) might want to consider carefully their alternatives.

Review: Awei A990-BL Wireless Sport Bluetooth Earphones – Avoid!

Due to my terrible running addiction, my recent acquisition of the Samsung Gear Fit 2 sports tracker watch, and the mechanical incompatibility of the Bluedio Ci3 earphones with my ears, I was again in the market for a new set of bluetooth earphones. (The earphones are not only to listen to MP3s on the watch, but more importantly, to hear the pacing information communicated by the watch’s terrible synthesised voice.)

After some scratching around on Takealot.com, our otherwise wonderful local Amazon-analogue, I settled on the Awei A990-BL Wireless Sport Bluetooth Earphones.

After just under a month of real-world testing of these earphones (that is, running with them a few times a week, they are “sport” earphones after all), punctuated by disappointing performance and some mechanical breakage, and culminating in complete hardware failure, I can make only this very simple recommendation:

DO NOT under any circumstances buy the Awei A990-BL Wireless Sport Bluetooth Earphones. They have attained the rarely awarded “cpbotha.net THREE (3) thumbs down, avoid at all costs” review.

A complete set of accessories

I was pretty happy when the the earphones arrived on November 15, right on time, and with a pretty complete set of accessories:

None of the three sets of silicone earbuds were large enough for my ears, an issue that was easily solved by using a set of my old Sennheiser buds. My last Skullkandy earphones had the same issue, so I’m ascribing it to my anatomy and not to Awei.

Ear clips break easily

During the first run with these earphones in the wind (when one also really notices how the control unit, a few centimetres from one’s right ear, can really flop around), I realised that the curved ear hooks were definitely necessary. For the next few runs, I had them clipped onto the earphones and they made a huge difference keeping music in my ears.

However, at the start of another run, I slight re-adjustment of the hooks relative to the earphones caused both of the earbud attachment bits to break clean off, rendering these accessories completely useless. I used a reasonable amount of force, and have to conclude that these clips are just not well made:

Bluetooth transmission hiccups

Besides the breakage, I also noticed from the start regular little breaks in the music transmission from the Gear Fit 2 to my ears. It’s possible that these were somehow caused by the unit’s movement during my exercise. I take this opportunity to remind the reader of the “sport” classification of this Awei product.

It could also be that the Gear Fit 2’s bluetooth implementation is sub-par, but, unlike the Awei, it’s an a-list product. In the following weeks I will be able to test this hypothesis with alternative hardware.

Complete hardware failure

About 25 calendar days after purchase, the unit spontaneously died during a run, a disappointment in itself. At first I thought that it was simply the battery that was exhausted. However, no amount of charging back home could revive the earphones.

My Awei A990-BL earphones remain completely dead to this day.

Quo vadis emptor?

After two failed attempts, first with the Bluedio Ci3 and then with these Awei headphones, I have decided to go a different route with the Samsung Level Link bluetooth adapter.

I’ll be able to use any wired earphones (at a much better price-performance ratio, and also much easier to replace) and just plug them into the Samsung Level Link, which will connect wirelessly to the Gear Fit 2.

Samsung’s 960 Pro M.2 NVME SSD is lightning fast in synthetic benchmarks, not so much in real-world.

Samsung’s 960 Pro M.2 NVME SSD is lust-worthy:

Two Samsung 960 Pro M.2 NVME SSDs. Photo by Edward Chester at Ars Technica.

In Ars Technica’s benchmarks, the 512 GB model clocked in at over 3500 megabytes per second sequential read and 2000 megabytes per second sequential write. Those are jaw-dropping performance numbers.

What I find really interesting however, is that the 960 Pro does not perform much better than the previous generation 850 Pro SATA SSD in PCMark 7 and 8 real-world benchmarks. (Random IOPS performance of the drive is also really good.)

The implication is that most normal users will not subjectively experience much difference in speed between the 960 Pro and the older, much cheaper, model.

Does this mean that we have reached some sort of theoretical limit where increases in drive speed simply do not impact normal computing activities anymore (some sort of performance plateau), or are there changes conceivable to the rest of our hardware and software to increase the effect of drive speedups?

Weekly Head Voices #96: Never gonna give you up.

The week has resulted in a terribly nerdy list of bullets. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK! (there’s a beer recommendation or three at the end to compensate)

  • It turns out that the terrible Samsung trim bug which would eat all of your data, as discovered by Algolia, was a Linux kernel bug after all (now patched by Samsung) and that it would only affect RAID setups. Let’s hope there are no surprising new turning outs.
  • Found out that the fastest ADSL lines available at my new place are a whole 2 Mbit/s. We’ve called off the transaction and we’re now searching for a new house.
  • I’m joking. It was really shocking however to consider the world as seen through a 2 Mbit/s connection. Now it seems that I will soon be entering the wonderful world of 5 GHz wireless connectivity, which should give me a fast enough connection, at least until fibre is rolled out in the year 3047.
  • Started watching Mr Robot. I don’t normally do series, but the pilot was just that good. I like the story, I really like the socially very strangely adjusted hacker protagonist and I love the cinematography. Up to episode 3, I give it 4 out of 5 Linux Distributions!
  • Continued fighting with OSX to get it completely working with my Dvorak and Emacs keybindings, also in Java apps such as IntelliJ IDEA. Two weeks ago I mentioned karabiner as a solution to most of these problems. The final piece of the puzzle was unbinding keys like Alt+W (or Mod+W as Apple calls it) in ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict to prevent OSX from turning it into a \(\Sigma\) (sigma); as everyone knows, M-w is the Emacs shortcut for copying the selected region! You can use this trick to prevent OSX from turning any of the other Mod combos into completely unwanted special characters. (My base dict file is that of Jacob Rus.)
  • I guess OSX only Just Works(tm) if your time is worth nothing. Err…
  • My first Kivy pull request, a fix for a Mac-bug (go figure), was recently merged into master. I’ve been using Kivy in the third or fourth generation of my current and probably longest running side project.
  • I’ve also been screencasting some of my night-time coding sessions using one of the more prominent livecoding sites (bonus points if you can find these sleep-inducing performances). It has been an interesting and strange experience programming with people watching over one’s shoulder as it were.
  • On Sunday, I ended up at the Root44 Market in Stellenbosch for another of those really terrible balmy winter days. I had so much fun in the sun, tasting Devil’s Peak First Light Golden Ale and their King’s Blockhouse IPA, and Stellenbrau’s Craven Lager, all from the tap, that I forgot to take a photo of the beautiful surroundings.

Have a beautiful week dear readers! Just remember, I’m never gonna give you up.