Ringly!

My iPhone and I have a complicated relationship. It’s a big part of my life, and sometimes I wish it weren’t.

At church, for instance: when it’s not my turn to accompany Katy to Children’s Church, I’m still eyeing my phone often during the sermon – in case James is texting to tell me Katy’s getting overtired and that we may need to leave church a little early. Or in the evenings, I’ll pick up the phone to check for a Whatsapp reply I’ve been waiting for, and before I know it I’ve wasted an additional 10 minutes scrolling mindlessly through Facebook.

Enter the Ringly.

My “Dive Bar” Ringly. The stone is tourmalated quartz and the plating is rhodium. All the other gemstone options come in a yellow gold-plated setting, and since I seldom wear yellow gold I didn’t consider any of them as serious contenders.

I pre-ordered my Ringly well over a year ago, so by the time it arrived a week ago it was almost like a pleasant surprise. Sort of like those Kickstarter projects that I back now and then – most of the time I practically expect them not to pan out. The US dollar is also somewhat stronger against the SGD now than when I first placed the order, so that was something else to be happy about.

Ringly has iOS and Android apps for pairing your ring to your phone, and for setting it up with the apps and notifications that you want. I created the same alert combination – green light, two buzzes – for all my instant messenger apps, since my friends now IM me across way too many platforms. We’re talking iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger most days, plus I have one friend each with whom I text primarily on Google Hangout and WeChat. Phone calls get their own colour+buzz combination.

There’s also a contact list feature that allows you to filter by contacts: you can set it such that specific contacts get an additional colour on top of the standard alert, or if you only want to get Ringly alerts from your contact list. This is specific to calls and SMSes / iMessages, though. If someone on your Ringly contact list WhatsApps you, you get the same alert that you’d get for someone not on your contact list.

Ringly syncs with quite a few other apps on my phone as well, the basic ones being Calendar and Reminders. I’ve yet to uncover a good reason to send real-time eBay alerts to my Ringly, though I’ll keep the potential in mind if I’m ever engaged in a high-stakes bidding war for a Tupperware set. And the Uber functionality would probably be very useful if I ever used Uber.

Just as importantly, the Ringly is a very pretty cocktail ring that doesn’t scream HI I AM A PIECE OF WEARABLE TECH in the silicone-and-LED-lights fashion that’s common to so many fitness trackers. I find that my Ringly looks perfectly at home with a professional outfit or a dressy one, and since I like to rock chunky jewellery in general it doesn’t feel particularly out of place when I’m dressed down on weekends.

The Ringly comes in this nifty box that also has a microUSB port on the back. You plug the box into a microUSB cable, and the ring charges when you drop it into the slot. The Ringly website says that the box also works as a standalone charger for up to 7 days without a microUSB cable.

One thing that bugs me is that the pairing between the Ringly and my iPhone isn’t exactly seamless. On a number of occasions, I didn’t get any notifications even though my Ringly claimed to be properly paired – you tap twice with the finger its on, a blue light flashes if it’s paired and a pink light flashes if it’s not. To get a proper connection up and running, I usually need to turn Bluetooth on and off on my phone and then re-open the Ringly app. It’s not a huge hassle, but I do think the instructions should specify the need to re-connect the Ringly in this way each time you use it.

I’ve road-tested the Ringly for about a week so far. Last Friday night, I was on a rare outing for dinner and drinks with James and some friends, and quite happily left my phone in my handbag most of the time except when I wanted to take photos. It was a good way to mentally unplug and be more present, so that was nice. I’ve also since gotten used to leaving my phone in my bag when I’m out at lunch with someone, which I think is a habit I’d like to keep up with.

At church on Sunday, though, I found that the Bluetooth range wasn’t good enough for me to leave my phone in my bag at the back of the Children’s Church classroom while I sat with Katy near the front. It was an average-sized classroom and the Ringly is supposed to be good for up to 20 feet / 6 metres of coverage, so I was quite surprised not to get notifications. This might also have been due to the pairing issue I mentioned above, though. I’ll update this post when I next test it out under the same conditions.

So far, this is my wishlist of future features:
– More detailed app-level customisations for alerts. For instance, the Instagram option is only on/off, and I’d like it if I could opt for Ringly alerts when I get comments/tags/mentions, and not likes. Also, I might opt to enable email notifications if I could select which email accounts to get notified from, and if I could tell the Ringly to receive them only between 8.30 am and 6 pm every day.
– A more effective way to check if pairing is working properly. The blue/pink light from double-tapping doesn’t quite tell me the entire story.
– An exhaustive master list of apps that work with Ringly. Right now, the Ringly app on your phone identifies the other already-installed apps that it can work with. It could be interesting to find other ways of making it work for me.

Other than these minor quibbles, I think I’m in a good place with my Ringly right now.

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2 Comments

  1. Alli - September 25, 2015

    Yay for a full review! I did read something recently about people who were using IFTTT to expand their options on the Ringly or Apple Watch. Might be something to look into if you can’t get it to quite do what you need. Also, your blog served up Katy’s 4 month infographic under this post. Tiny girl!!

    • Germaine - September 26, 2015

      IFTTT has possibilities though I can see being limited by the fact that you can’t specify which notification you want from a certain platform. I’ll look into this some more.

      These infographics are so great. I’m glad you inspired me to do them.

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