Pairing your Bluetooth Low Energy Heart Rate Monitor – iOS

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Fitdigits is compatible with the Polar H7 and a bevy of other Bluetooth Low Energy (aka BLE / Bluetooth 4.0) sensors, including the Zephyr HXM and Wahoo Blue HRM and hundreds more.

When it comes to Heart Rate Monitors (HRMs), it is essential to make a gentle first contact; do not make any sudden movements as to scare it. There are many different types, they all react a little differently. There is the chest strap, and electrode-based type, which is a great, accurate solution that can last for a long, long time but also has it’s comfort and use drawbacks. That is the traditional HRM.

There are optical solutions such as the Scosche Rhythm + which sits on the arm, the Mio line of wrist based, or the new opticals now coming out in earbuds, bike helmets and sweatbands. Seems if you can see blood, there will be a way to get heart rate from it!

That said, many of the cheap daily activity monitors that claim also to have Heart Rate support, are not compatible because they are not to BLE/Bluetooth Smart specifications or, like Fitbit, decided to keep the HR proprietary thus they did not build the ability for others to pair for HR.

Pairing is very easy. Deleting a current pairing is also super easy. I would recommend, just to get comfortable with the process, the first time you pair your HRM you delete it and then repair just again. Practice makes perfect Mom always said.

If you haven’t already, download the Fitdigits app, and upgrade in-app to support the heart rate monitor functionality and more. All apps have the same functionality but different messaging and graphics in areas.

Downloads

iCardio Apps iRunner Apps iBiker Apps iWalker Apps
Fitdigits iCardio app for Apple iOS Fitdigits iRunner app for Apple iOS Fitdigits iBiker app for Apple iOS Fitdigits iWalker app for Apple iOS
Fitdigits iCardio app for Android Fitdigits iRunner app for Android Fitdigits iBiker app for Android Fitdigits iWalker app for Android

 

Pairing Your Heart Rate Monitor

  1. Make sure the heart rate monitor is on and turned on with heart rate
    1. Optical HRMs: Typically there are green flashing lights from most optical HRMs as they try and read your heart rate (check the back of your Mio or Apple Watch, etc).
    2. Chest Straps: Dab water, saliva, or gel onto the underside of the electrode receivers on the strap to strengthen the electrode connection (it conducts when wet, sometimes initially there isn’t enough sweat to get it to pick up). You want to create real chemistry between you and the belt. Next, put the strap on, placing it on your bare skin on the top of your ribcage right below your chest. Make sure it is snug enough not to bounce around much during exercise. Check that the peanut (the plastic monitor part) is right-side up and properly snapped into the belt.
    3. Open your Fitdigits app. Tap Menu > Sensors.
    4. Turn ON the option next to Bluetooth Smart in the Heart Rate Monitors section
    5. Once it has connected with the heart rate monitor you are ready to workout with your Bluetooth Heart rate monitor!

After pairing, the sensor will show in the Paired Sensors section below the Add a Sensor section. You can use the on-off switch anytime you want to not use the HRM, but you don’t want to delete the pairing (like if you forget your HRM).

Tapping on the name of the sensor will bring you to the Sensor detail page, where you can see more information on the sensor or tap Delete to delete it from there.

Start a workout wearing your HRM and you are ready to finally realize your health and fitness destiny! When you are ready, read more on doing custom Fitness Assessments to get your custom heart rate zones, and why that is so important and effective in your own personal journey to health and fitness.

Deleting a Paired Sensor

  1. Tap Menu > Sensors
  2. Tap the name of the paired HRM
  3. Tap Delete

 

Pairing a BLE heart rate monitor with Fitdigits apps

Pairing a BLE heart rate monitor with Fitdigits apps

 

Troubleshooting

Try these initial steps if you are experiencing difficulties pairing, or these other articles for issues such as heart rate spikes or dropouts or general compatibility.

  • Chest Straps: Wet the electrodes on the belt part (which touches your skin) with water or saliva on the chest strap heart rate monitor to increase connectivity.
  • Optical HRMs: Make sure the green lights / receptors are pulsing in the part next to your skin.
  • Reset Bluetooth: Go to the Android Settings and turn off Bluetooth. Wait a few seconds then turn it back on.
  • Manually Close Your App: Exit the app and then double tap the iPhone home button. Look for the multitasking window to appear at the bottom of your screen. Tap and hold the Fitdigits icon to make a little red circle (minus sign) appear on all the apps. Then tap the little red circle for Fitdigits. Your app has now been manually closed. Relaunch the app and try pairing again.
  • Reboot: When in doubt, never hurts to reboot your phone/tablet.
If you still cannot pair with your Bluetooth HRM, check out the complete 

HRM pairing troubleshooting tips

Fitdigits Discontinues ANT+ Support on iOS 8

On September 17th, Apple released iOS 8, “the biggest iOS release ever”. For months now, Fitdigits has been hard at work to deliver an app that is optimized for iOS 8 and the new Apple HealthKit.

During development we ran into a roadblock with ANT+ sensor support, a platform that less than 2% of all Fitdigits users are currently using and which continues to decrease daily.

The good news for ANT+ users is Apple has limited iOS 8 to newer iPads, the iPhone 4S, 5, 5S and the new 6 series. Of those, only the 4S supports both the 30-pin connector (which the ANT+ transceiver plugs into) and will also support iOS 8. However, running iOS 8 on an iPhone 4S makes everything very sluggish and many would not recommend the upgrade. Even Apple has recognized the issue and is allowing users to re-install iOS 7 even after upgrading to iOS 8.

If you don’t intend on upgrading to iOS 8, or have an iPhone 4, you don’t have to worry. iOS 7 or below, will work just fine.

For those of you brave enough to upgrade to iOS 8 who still are using ANT+, Fitdigits will no longer be a useable option, and for this you have our sincere apologies. Currently less than 2% of our users (and dropping quickly due to hardware upgrades) are still using ANT+, and between the effort to maintain technology and the rapidly declining usage, we have made the tough decision.

ANT+

ANT+ is one of the initial platforms Fitdigits used to connect with heart rate monitors and other sensors, using an ANT+ Adapter plugged in to the 30-pin adapter on the bottom of an iPhone to receive real time stats. ANT+ was the best technology available at the time, and Fitdigits was excited to use this technology to allow users to track heart rate right on their iPhone.

Introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy

However, technology moves fast. What was viewed as innovative and groundbreaking just a few short years ago can quickly become an outdated fossil of the past. This was the case for ANT+ in October of 2011, when the iPhone 4s was released.

The iPhone 4s featured Bluetooth Low Energy technology built right into the device, allowing for easy pairing of Bluetooth Low Energy health and fitness sensors such as the Polar H7. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is a far superior platform to ANT+, for three main reasons:

  1. ANT+ has a range of only 8-12 feet from your iPhone, while BLE has a range of over 100 ft
  2. BLE does not require an adapter plugged into the bottom of your iPhone
  3. A more consistent and reliable signal, with less dropouts and variability

So naturally, with Bluetooth Low Energy now standard in all new phones, developers left the ANT+ platform behind and focused on developing sensors that use BLE. This was amplified when the iPhone 5 was released in September of 2012 with the new lightning port, making the 30-pin ANT+ Adapter more or less obsolete and ANT+ connection burdensome.

The writing was on the wall for ANT+ on the iPhone.

The End of ANT+ on iPhones

Fast forward 2 years to iOS 8 and the iPhone 6. During our initial testing of the iOS 8 beta, we found that ANT+ connection was no longer working at all. As each beta version of the new operating system was released we hoped something would be altered to make our handling of ANT+ still functional, but no such change ever came.

After some digging by our development team, it was determined that it would take a considerable amount of time to get ANT+ working in Fitdigits on iOS 8 devices, so it was time to look at our user base and determine what we should do next.

Since iOS 8 is only available for iPhone 4s and above, and the iPhone 5 has the lightning port, we determined that only iPhone 4s users that use ANT+ would be impacted. All told, less then 2% of all users, and less than 3% of all workouts recorded by Fitdigits users each month have an ANT+ sensor active. That number continues to fall, even on iOS 7.

With this in mind, we have decided to no longer offer ANT+ sensor compatibility in the upcoming iOS 8 versions of Fitdigits. This decision comes with a heavy heart, as our ANT+ users constitute some of our oldest and most dedicated customers. We value these users and all they have done to support Fitdigits throughout the years, but it is time to move on from ANT+ and look to the future.

Upgrade to Bluetooth Low Energy

Fitdigits is compatible with a variety of other BLE sensors.

Battery Replacement for your Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor

Polar H7 heart rate monitors are awesome. They run on bluetooth low energy, which for me is great because the fewer devices tracking my workout, the better! However, if you find it’s time to change the battery (you experience erratic heart rate data or drop outs or no data at all), here are your step-by-step instructions. Users rejoice–your inner handy-person awaits!

Photo 1: Intact battery

Directions to change battery:
1. Using a coin, open the battery cover by turning it counterclockwise to OPEN. Remove the cap.

2. Using a sharp edge (knife), lift the battery out from inside the cap. See Photo 2.

3. Insert the battery (CR 2025) inside the cover with the positive  side against the cover. Note: the positive side is also the side with the writing; insert the battery with writing side down. Make sure the sealing ring is in the groove to ensure water resistance. See Photo 1.

4. Place the cover back into the connector. Be sure to do this carefully by lining the arrow on the outside of the lid directly with the dot on the connector next to OPEN.

5. Use the coin to turn the cover clockwise to CLOSE.

Note: When changing the battery, make sure the sealing ring is not damaged, in which case you should replace it with a new one. You can purchase the sealing ring/battery kits at well-equipped Polar retailers and authorized Polar Services.

For more information about using the Polar H7,  read the manual.

Photo 2: Battery being lifted from the cap

Photo 3: Battery successfully extracted!