Nike is shutting down the app for its $350 self-tying sneakers

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In 2019, Nike moved closer to its dream of popularizing self-tying sneakers by releasing the Adapt BB. Using Bluetooth, the sneakers connect to the Adapt app that lets users do things like tighten or loosen the shoe’s laces and control its LED lights. However, Nike has announced that it is “retiring” the app on August 6, when it will no longer be downloadable from Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store; nor will it be updated.

In a recent announcement spotted by The Verge, Nike’s brief explanation for shutting down the app is that Nike is “no longer making new versions of Adapt shoes.” The company began notifying owners about the app’s retirement about four months ago.

Those who have already bought the shoes can still use the app after August 6, but it is expected that the app will no longer be usable after an iOS or Android update. Also, those who buy a new device will not be able to download Adapt after August 6.

Without the app, wearers will not be able to change the color of the sneaker’s LED lights. The lights will either retain the last color scheme selected through the app or, according to Nike, “if you don’t have the app installed, the lights will be the default color.” While owners will still be able to use the on-shoe button to turn the shoe on or off, check its battery, adjust lace tightness and save fit settings, the ability to change lighting and control the shoes via a mobile phone were big selling points of the $350 kicks.

Although the Adapt BB is Nike’s third self-tying sneaker and its best-selling sneaker to date, it appears to have lost its most marketed features. Nike still maintains other mobile apps that are directly tied to the shoe’s functionality, such as its shopping app and Run Club app for tracking running.

Disappointed Sneakerheads

Adapt BB owners have expressed disappointment after hearing the news. One Reddit user who claimed to have multiple pairs of the shoes described the news as “absolute nonsense”, while another called it “extremely disappointing”.

Some hope that Nike will open-source the app so that customers can retain the original and full functionality of their shoes. But Nike has not shared any plans to do so. Ars Technica asked the company about this but did not receive a response before press time.

A person known as Maverick-1776 on Reddit wrote:

These shoes were very expensive when they came out. I don’t think app support is that big a deal. It doesn’t mean they need to have a dedicated dev team. …

Hopefully it won’t disappear if you already have the app installed. I like using the app to see how much battery is left, or just messing around with the LEDs.”

Reddit’s Taizen said companies like Nike “should offer alternatives or put the content in the public domain when they do these things,” adding: “Sustainability also includes the maintenance of past products, whether they’re digital or not.”

“I’m out. Fuck off.”

Some people won’t be surprised that Nike has attempted to commercialize the shoes. Back to the Future Part II Nike, for example, has also discontinued NikeConnect, its app for $200 NBA jerseys announced in 2017 that turned wearers into marketing gold.

Casual sneaker wearers might overlook the Adapt BB’s attractive features, but the shoe had flaws that would disappoint even sneaker enthusiasts. For example, it didn’t take long before a recommended software update caused the shoes to malfunction, including making them impossible to wear for anyone wanting to tighten the laces (at the time, Nike said the problem affected only a small number of owners). Nike’s technical inexperience played a role, as the company’s testing reportedly didn’t fully consider all the different phone models in use and their varying Bluetooth capabilities.

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