Fitbit is today extending its wearable lineup with a new, more affordable smartwatch - the Fitbit Versa. I used the watch during a brief but intense workout, and I was impressed with its new design. First up is the new health tracking functionality designed specifically for women. Fitbit's hardly alone among wearable makers in that oversight, of course, but the issue certainly stood out for a company whose products are aimed at a mainstream appeal.
Fitbit acquired Pebble, a company widely credited for kickstarting the smartwatch industry in 2016, predominantly for its software assets.
The Versa will be available in black, light gray, and rose gold with a classic band; a Versa Special Edition comes in graphite and rose gold with a woven band.
Child obesity is on the rise, and Fitbit wants to do something about it. The Versa watch has a square display that will remind you more of Pebble's most recent devices than of the Apple Watch. It has an estimated four-plus days of battery life, on-screen workouts, text notifications (with a quick reply option for Android users), continuous heart rate monitoring, and the ability to store music. A Special Edition will also be available that will include an NFC chip for use with Fitbit Pay.
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Fitbit hopes more big name apps will flock to the platform soon too, so expect further apps and watch faces to appear on the gallery in the future.
Melanie Chase, Fitbit's vice president of marketing, said the Versa is a "great opportunity to bring more women into the smartwatch category", which is about 60 percent male. If the design looks familiar, that's because it's a redesign of the company's old fitness tracker, the Fitbit Ultra.
There's quite a bit to unpack in the Versa, so we've broken it down for you below.
The biggest addition to Fitbit's software is the introduction is "female health tracking", allowing you to track your menstrual cycle, and see how it connects to your overall health. As such, Fitbit will be debuting female health tracking in the app. Fitbit told me that 25% of women it surveyed were already using some form of menstrual cycle tracking, and adding the capability to its devices was one of the top five requests from Fitbit's female users.
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The other new device is the Fitbit Ace, a fitness tracker that's created to inspire kids to stay active. Privacy is also beefed up, with a new Fitbit family account feature that's compliant with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. It also monitors heart rate, calories, daily activities, and tracks sleeping pattern and sleep stages. That's why it's launching the new Fitbit Ace fitness tracker for kids.
There have also been some tweaks to the way in which data is displayed on your wrist in what Fitbit is calling an integrated dashboard. The range of bands available also looks to be trying to take on the Apple Watch in the fashion stakes. "Ionic was just a first step".
What's different is that the Versa will feature more personalized insights. I don't like that Fitbit sacrificed Global Positioning System to trim down the watch, though Global Positioning System isn't a must-have for most people. Apple announced late a year ago that it would take part in research study using its watch's heart rate sensor to collect data on irregular heart rhythms and notify users who may be experiencing one. This is a huge deal, because all of those metrics are so deeply intertwined. It will ship this April.
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