Did Fitbit Steal a March on Apple's Just-Announced Product Launch?

Fitbit Inc. unveiled its long-awaited smartwatch on Monday, elbowing into a crowded market to restart its growth. This wasn't a secret.

The Fitbit Ionic is the first Fitbit device to be designed completely in house by Fitbit itself and as was confirmed by the company's CEO prior to the official announcement, the Ionic is waterproof up to 50 metres, making it the second Fitbit device to offer waterproofing following the Flex 2. Fitbit says the new SpO2 sensor measures blood oxygen levels and could be used to discover sleep apnea in the future.

With a built in heart rate monitor, sleep tracking, built in Global Positioning System, and water resistance of up to 50 meters, the Ionic is setting itself up to be a top contender in the fitness tracker market. Leading partner apps available on Fitbit Ionic at launch include: Weather from AccuWeather; and Strava sports social network. Continuous music playback or Global Positioning System usage reduces battery life expectations, however, as Fitbit only promises up to 10 hours during either activity on a single charge. I love the Ionic's features and potentially game-changing health apps, but wish Fitbit had put as much thought into the design as it did the software. The 2.5GB of local storage houses 300+ songs for offline playback, plus you get access to Pandora, no phone needed.

Fitbit also tapped the mobile payments sector by introducing the Fitbit Pay. That means you can load credit or debit cards to the Fitbit app and then use the Ionic to pay at any store with an NFC reader, no phone required.

Fitbit Ionic is now available to preorder on Fitbit.com and will be available at major retailers in October.

Fitbit is going beyond fitness to make the Ionic a more well-rounded watch.

You normally can't take a personal coach everywhere you go. Fitbit Pay incorporates technology from Coin, which the company acquired past year. A Fitbit Ionic Adidas special edition is also scheduled for 2018.

Speaking of GPS, Ionic features the best GPS tracking of any Fitbit wearable to date - according to Fitbit. Over time, this will make the devices even more useful in preventative health care, said Fitbit's vice president of research, Shelten Yuen. The Ionic also supports interchangeable bands, with the company offering Sport, Leather, and Classic options.

Lets go through them one by one.

Only the documentation is now available, but based on Fitbit's current write-up it appears the device will be a fast hacking favourite, with developers able to easily sideload applications and share them with friends and family without going through Fitbit's approval process and App Gallery, and apps being based on javascript, CSS and SVG. They're equipped with Bluetooth, and Fitbit says they are sweat-proof and water resistant. Audio coaching sessions created to increase endurance, speed and form are coming in 2018, we're told.

The third product in Fitbit's new lineup is the Aria 2, a redesigned version of the Wi-Fi scale Fitbit launched in 2012. Like other Fitbit wearables, and like the Apple Watch, customers will also be able to swap out the straps. The cost is $129.95 and it is available for pre-order with shipments in 4-5 weeks.


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