Last summer, Fitbit waded into new territory with its debut smartwatch, the Ionic. Today, the company is expanding its line with the Versa, a more casual, affordable model. I have a chance to take a look at the Versa at a special launch event in New York City, along with Fitbit's first fitness tracker for children, the Ace.
A More Versa-tile Smartwatch
The sleek Versa is a lot easier on the wrist. At a glance, it's reminiscent of the Apple Watch, which is not a bad thing. The watch features a “squircle” display, basically a square rounded at the edges. Like the Ionic, it has a pretty thick bezel, but it's bright and clear, and the company seems to have smoothed out Fitbit OS since we last tested it.
Fitbit had me participate in a themed workout to see how the Versa holds up under real-life activity. I relived some elementary school gym class trauma with a session of dodgeball and Presidential Fitness. While dodging balls and jump roping my way to a good sweat, the Versa never got in the way-I barely noticed it was there.
It has many of the same features as the Ionic, and some new ones, too. Like the Ionic, it's platform agnostic. It has an estimated four-plus days of battery life, on-screen workouts, text notifications (with a quick response option for Android users), continuous heart rate monitoring, and the ability to store music. It's also safe for swimming. It has access to the Fitbit's App Gallery, which has added over 550 apps and clock faces since its launch last summer.
What's different is that the Versa will feature more personalized insights. That means you can be able to view your stats at a glance, as well as get action-based tips and motivational messages based on your personal data. That will extend to reminders and social challenges later in the year. On the other hand, it lacks the Ionic's built-in GPS with GLONASS, wallet-free payments, and has a smaller screen.
The Versa will come in three options for $ 199.95: a black case with a black strap, a silver case with a gray strap, and a rose gold case with a peach strap. There will also be a $ 299.95 Versa Special Edition that includes support for Fitbit Pay and come in a graphite aluminum case with a woven charcoal band, or a rose gold case with a lavender band. Accessories, including leather and stainless steel straps, will range in price from $ 29.95 to $ 99.95. The Versa will be available in April.
Ionic: adidas edition. This special version of the Ionic will feature six additional on-screen workouts, and come in a silver-gray aluminum case with a two-tone blue-and-gray sport band. It's also feature custom custom adidas clock face and is expected to arrive March 19 for $ 329.95.
Get the Kids Involved
Fitbit also announced it's tackling childhood obesity with the Ace, its first fitness tracker and up.
In terms of design, the Ace borrows heavily from the Fitbit Alta and Alta HR, with a few tweaks. Namely, it comes in two colors: Electric Blue and Power Purple. It automatically tracks, active minutes, and sleeps, has an estimated five-day battery life, and is safe to wear in the shower.
Since it's designed for children, it does not have the same fitness prompts as the company's adult-oriented trackers. For instance, children will receive a recommended 60 minutes of daily active minutes, compared with 30 for adults. Privacy is also beefed up, with a new Fitbit family account feature that's compliant with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. This will include parental view settings, so you can control. It's the limits of what children see in the app, including stats like calories burned, friend requests, and Fitbit's social community.
The Ace is available for pre-order now at $ 99.95 and is expected to ship before July.
A Female-Friendly Focus
On the software side, Fitbit announced the addition of female health tracking. Adult Fitbit users who identify as a woman will be able to log their menstrual cycles and record symptoms directly in the Fitbit app. They will also be able to view cycle predictions, as well as gain insights about menstrual cycles, ovulation, and fertility. Versa and Ionic will be able to view where they are in their cycle on-device; owners of other Fitbit trackers will continue to be able to track their time through the app.
This is all part of Fitbit's push to expand into new demographics. The majority of smartwatches are designed primarily with men in mind, and according to Fitbit, that's reflected in the customer base. By adding female health tracking, Fitbit is not only hoping to appeal to more women, but also to see how menstrual cycles are interplay with weight, activity levels, sleep, and nutrition.
So far, women's health is a largely ignored metric when it comes to fitness trackers and smartwatches. Only the Bellabeat Leaf and Bellabeat Leaf Urban feature period tracking, and both of those devices are fairly limited when it comes to serious tracking of other metrics. Smartwatches like the Apple Watch, meanwhile, require you to download a separate app.
Fitbit's new software. We're looking forward to testing them out, along with the new devices. Check back for our thoughts, and full reviews of the new devices when they come out.