Fitbit Doubles Down on Smartwatches With Versa

Doris Richards
March 13, 2018

Think of the Versa as a follow-up to the Fitbit Blaze.

The new $200 Fitbit Versa looks a lot more like an Apple Watch, with a brighter, curvier design than the chunky, science fiction inspired $300 Ionic model released a year ago.

What's different is that the Versa will feature more personalized insights.

You can control your app by interacting with the virtual Ionic's touchscreen with your mouse, and you can even bring up a virtual representation of the Versa to see how your creation will look on it, too. It's a device for serious athletes that don't mind paying a premium price to get the most top-of-the-line features. In fact, this new watch is the lightest metal smartwatch in the USA, and measures just 11.2 mm thick.

The move to reboot its smartwatch push comes after a hard holiday shopping season for Fitbit's entire line of watches and trackers. Fitbit gave the device a redesigned dashboard with a simpler way of displaying health and workout data. For instance, the buttons on the sides and the heart rate sensor underneath. It also chose to go with what it calls a "squircle" design - yes, really- softening the hard edges of a square with rounded corners to make it feel more inviting. You can order it in black with a black aluminum case, in gray with a silver aluminum case or in peach with a rose gold aluminum case. There are also two special edition models in graphite, with a charcoal grey band, and rose gold, with a lavender woven band. Plus, Fitbit is partnering with the Council of Fashion Designers of America to fund emerging label PH5, which will offer knitware bands and accessories for Versa. After missing out on the most popular music services, including Apple Music and Spotify, by only offering a Pandora (p) app on its watch a year ago, Fitbit is adding only one new music app from Deezer, a service mainly popular in Europe, for now. You can load around 300 of your favorite songs on the device, listen to stations from Pandora, and now listen to curated playlists and Flow from Deezer.

Fitbit OS 2.0 is a big step in the right direction, and it's only going to get better over time.

When it comes to Fitbit Pay, the company's wearable payment service, the situation is a little. unusual. "We haven't forgotten about iOS users, we're working on it", Melanie Chase, vice president of product marketing, told reporters. So, it plans to add women's health-tracking tools to the Fitbit app.

Versa shares numerous Ionic's features, including an app store, swim-tracking workouts, on-board music storage and 4-day battery life, so you can log sleep as well as steps. Many women already use period-tracking apps, but Fitbit is building period-tracking into the Versa, so women can see how their periods affect their sleep and activity. You'll be able to log your cycle and record symptoms like headaches and cramps. While you can install period-tracking apps on the Apple Watch, there is no app that combines and analyzes all the information women need to understand their overall health. The company is also releasing a $229.95 Versa Special Edition that includes support for Fitbit Pay, its mobile payment service.

For instance, it could recommend more sleep in the coming week because a bad period is on the way, or suggest easier ways to exercise if you're feeling too exhausted.

The Fitbit Ace is available for preorder today for $99 on Fitbit's website.

Fitbit's offering the simulator as a free download for Windows and macOS, and once it's downloaded and installed onto your machine, opening it will show a virtual Ionic.

The hardware is essentially a revamped Fitbit Alta. That's coming later this spring, Fitbit says. There'll be reminders to log your food intake or take medication, celebrations for hitting goals and milestones, insights into your activity, sleep summaries, social challenges and prompts to take action on your data.

The downside to buying Fitbit smartwatches is that you aren't able to reply to messages from your wrist.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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