All the tech in Back to the Future II looks pretty cool, but if we’ve learned anything over the past few years it’s that replicating its tech isn’t easy. Hoverboards turned out to be exploding deathtraps that don’t even really hover, as just one example.
And here’s another: In 2015, Nike made the movie’s “self-tying shoelaces” a reality, and released the Nike Adapt line the following year. Fast forward to 2019, and Nike’s newly released Adapt BB smart sneakers are currently useless paperweights after a recent update bricked the shoes for Android users.
The premise of Nike’s Adapt shoe was simple: as in Back to the Future, the shoe would tighten automatically when the wearer inserts their foot. Additionally, the app lets users customize the tightness of the fit and change the colors of the lights on the shoe. It’s a neat gizmo in theory.
In practice, however, Adapt has the same weaknesses of every internet-connected object, namely, that they’re useless without the app. A recent update released for the shoes’ Android app on February 15 seems to have demonstrated exactly this concept by introducing a software bug that prevents the app from properly connecting to the shoes. The Google Play store was quickly flooded with 1-star reviews with Nike responding “we are aware of the issue and are actively working on a solution.”
As many angry reviews note, without that app the shoes lose all functionality. Users can’t change light color or adjust the fit. In fact, without the app, the shoes don’t tighten at all. There are no actual laces in the shoes for users to manually tighten.
Now, instead of the occasional ripped shoelace, you can experience the 21st-century joy of trying to connect your phone to your shoes over Bluetooth—and failing.