The Good The Neatmo June looks like a piece of jewelry, making it more desirable to wear than other health bands.
The Bad There's no Android availability and the $99, £80, AU$140 is too steep for its limited features.
The Bottom Line For $99, the June is a beautiful, yet unnecessary, way to keep yourself from getting burned by the sun.
The latest wearable gadget doesn't measure steps or heart rate, it measures your time in the sun. Specifically, Netatmo's June bracelet has a UV sensor to track how much exposure you're getting and recommends the appropriate protection, be it sunscreen, sun glasses or a wide-brim hat. It costs $99 in the US, and you can find it online for £80 in the UK and AU$140 in Australia.
The June hails from European company Netatmo, which also makes a weather station and a smart thermostat. The company has been working with weather products for several years and debuted an early version the June at CES 2014. The June only works with the iPhone 4S and newer, running iOS 7 and above, and there's no Android availability yet.
I volunteered to review the June because with my fair skin I rarely tan and almost always burn if I spend too much time in direct sunlight. While I slather on sunscreen at the beach or an outdoor festival, I frequently forgo it in my day to day life. I was hoping the June would change that, but as I learned, it's not the best tool for that.
The June looks more like a piece of jewelry and less like a health tracker. The design is undeniably feminine, with a shiny metal jewel (Netatmo calls it a centerpiece) and thin wristband that wraps around your wrist twice. Netatmo compares the centerpiece's design to a diamond and indeed the metal housing for the sensor is faceted like a cut gem. There's a clasp on the black that slides onto the wristband and it can also attach to a pocket or shirt collar. The June comes in three colors, gold, silver and dark gray and I tested the gold model.
It comes with two black straps, one made of leather and the other silicone. Both are long enough to fit around wrists with a circumference between 6.1 and 7.4 inches (about 16 to 19cm). It fit comfortably and securely around my small wrist. While the silicone band feels soft and well made, the leather band just felt cheap.
The June looks more like a fashion bracelet than a tech gadget. (James Martin/CNET)
In the box you get the June, two straps, a small carrying pouch and a proprietary USB charging cable. The flat end of the charging cable slips under the June's clasp to charge it, which takes about 12 hours using a wall charger. The battery is said to last for a full month on a single charge, though I got warnings my battery was low after a few days.
While the June can get wet from a splash of water or sweat, it's not waterproof, so you can't wear it while swimming.
How it works
Embedded in the centerpiece is the UV sensor, which picks up the rays you're getting when you're outside through the small grill on the front of the June. The measurements it gets from sunlight exposure are then sent to the accompanying June iOS app using Bluetooth LE. In the app is where you'll find recommendations about when you should apply protection and when to get out of sun.
The June wakes up every morning with the sunrise and goes into sleep mode at sunset, with the times determined by your location. You can also shake it to wake it up. It begins recording your activity as soon as it wakes up and seamlessly detects when you're indoors versus outdoors without you needing to do anything.
The June app helps you stay safe in the sun. (James Martin/CNET)
Besides simply measuring the UV rays outside, the June also checks the weather forecast for the UV index, a scale meteorologists use to forecast the amount of of ultraviolet radiation any particular part of the world is expected to get, based on the weather conditions. The app determines your current location for the UV index and the June can tell when you travel, updating its location when needed. All you need to know is that the June measures how much UV exposure you're currently getting, plus how much you might get in your area, to coach you on safe-sun behavior.
Sun insights in the app
You set up the June using the iPhone app and during that process you'll answer a few questions about your skin, eye and hair color, and if you tan or burn easily to determine your skin type. For instance, I have fair skin, green eyes, I rarely tan and always burn without sunscreen, making my skin type 2. Your skin type plays a big role in the June's coaching, helping the system determine how much safe exposure you can get before you get a sunburn.
The app is broken down into three tabs; Now, Forecast and Timeline. The Now screen shows the current UV Index and Sun Dose. The Sun Dose is a measurement of how much sun exposure you've received throughout the day, based on the June's readings and your skin type.
As you spend time outside throughout the day, your Sun Dose will go up and the app will send you alerts when you need to apply sunscreen or move out of the sun. During my testing in cold, foggy San Francisco, I didn't get any of these alerts. But I can't blame the June, in the two weeks I've been using it, the UV index hasn't been higher than 2 and there have been few sunny days.
The June app shows how much sun exposure you get each day and offers advice on how to protect yourself. (Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET)
You can tell the app whether you're using sun protection, which includes sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat, and that will affect your Sun Dose. At the bottom of the Now screen, you'll see the recommended types of sun protection for today.
The Forecast tab shows today's forecasted UV index, a timeline of daylight, how much sunshine is expected for the day, and advice for what kind of protection you should carry with you. Finally, the Timeline tab shows your daily timeline, starting with the sunrise and ending with the sunset. It shows your cumulative Sun Dose throughout the day, plus a timeline of when you were indoors and outdoors.
While the app is as pretty as the June itself, I'd like it to be more intuitive. For their part, Netatmo does give you a lot of information about each part of the app, explaining what the UV index and Sun Dose metrics mean, but the app still feels a bit bare with little information on how I can protect my skin from the sun.
I also wish that June reminded me to wear sunscreen everyday, before I even go outside. The prevailing wisdom today is that we should wear sunscreen every single day, sunny or not, and I think the June system could do a much better job of reinforcing that.
The June is one of the prettiest wearable tech devices you'll find, with a shiny, jewel-like appearance. However, it's stunning design is its best feature. While it works well at measuring your exposure to the sun, that's all it can do. And with more and more multi-purpose wristbands hitting store shelves, that can measure heart rate, step count and sleep, the June one-track approach is lacking.
It's a useful tool to wear when you're heading outside for most of the day, but at $99, it's a bit frivolous. I'd rather invest in a few color-changing disposable UV bands that tells you when to reapply sunscreen and get out of the sun, which usually run around few bucks for a 10-pack. Or I could simply set a free reminder on my phone to reapply sunscreen.
Sport: Fitness and wellness
Proficiency level: Expert/Intermediate