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Whistle: Activity trackers go to the dogs

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | Jan. 24, 2014
Just what does your dog do all day? Sleep for eight hours straight? Run around your living room in circles? Go on lengthy walks with your dog walker? Whistle, an activity tracker for dogs--yes, you read that correctly--can help you find out.

If you tap the arrow icon in the upper-right corner, you can see your dog's trends over the past few months. Here you can check on your pet's daily activity levels, progress toward activity goals, and daily rest levels. You can see your dog's activity for the past six months, or you can compare the activity against that of other, similar dogs. I assume that the app determines "similar dogs" based on your pup's age, weight, and breed, but I'm not sure.

Overall, Whistle is a fun little gadget that's useful for people who want to know whether their dog is getting enough exercise. Potential buyers might include people who are away all day and who hire dog walkers, or people who are traveling — I know that this gadget certainly helped me make sure that my puppy was getting enough exercise when I recently drove across the United States. I did find one major drawback with Whistle, however: It connects via Wi-Fi, not Bluetooth.

At first I didn't think that would be a problem — after all, I've had Bluetooth headaches before, but I almost never have difficulties with Wi-Fi. However, once I started traveling, I saw why the dependence on Wi-Fi wasn't ideal. Because the Whistle gadget can send information to your mobile device only via Wi-Fi, you'll always need access to an open Wi-Fi network. You can connect Whistle to a private (password-protected) Wi-Fi network through the app, but I had trouble getting that connection to work after the initial setup. Also, if your only option is a protected Wi-Fi network that doesn't use a password but instead uses some other type of protection, such as a Web portal, you will not be able to connect Whistle to that network.

Whistle's Wi-Fionly restriction meant that I couldn't check on my dog's activity levels, or even the gadget's battery status, for the entire two weeks I was traveling.

Bottom line
Whistle certainly has its uses, but it's a little limited compared with other dog trackers that are popping up. And although its Wi-Fi only restriction is tolerable if you're mostly at home with a Wi-Fi connection, it can be annoying to use if you're on the road. For $130, I really see Whistle as a worthwhile investment only for people who hire potentially untrustworthy dog walkers, because Whistle will let you know if, when, and for how long your dog is being walked.


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