Fitbit Versa unveiled: Pebble Time Steel's spiritual successor

14 March, 2018, 06:30 | Author: Shannon Newton
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Fitbit Versa [is] a modern, intuitive smartwatch at an approachable price.

The Versa has numerous same core functions as Fitbit's first full-featured smartwatch, the Ionic: fitness tracking, wrist-based heart-rate detection, guided on-screen workouts, and an automatic recognition system that knows when you've begun exercising without the need to press Start. It's also £100 cheaper. Apple has always been lauded for their design and aesthetics, so it's no wonder that Fitbit is taking a note out of their playbook with the release of the Fitbit Versa.

When the Ionic first arrived, we described FitbitOS as offering "smartwatch scaffolding" - but with version 2.0 on the Versa, it's definitely starting to look more like the finished article. The Fitbit Versa (short for "Versatile") comes with almost all the features its bigger sibling, Ionic has but costs only $199.

In the hand, the Versa really is a far more approachable wearable than the Ionic. Fitbit claims it's made the lightest metal smartwatch sold on the United States market, and it's hard not to see some Pebble DNA in here.

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It's less than six months since Fitbit first truly entered the smartwatch market with the Fitbit Ionic, but the company is already here with its second smart wearable for your wrist. The Versa looks more like something Pebble would have produced, drawing on many design features from the Pebble Time, in particular. For instance, the buttons on the sides and the heart rate sensor underneath.

The Versa sports a flat, thin, squircle design, with a square watch face.

Fitbit charges $199 for the Versa, and at that price it undercuts quite a bit of the Android Wear market. Accessories, including leather and stainless steel straps, will range in price from $29.95 to $99.95. The screen itself is considerably improved, sharing similar specifications to the Fitbit Ionic. Ace will be available in stores worldwide in Q2 2018, including major North American retailers Amazon, Best Buy, Kohl's, and Target. The watch features storage enough to get over 300 songs offline and play them back when you go for a run without your phone, which is convenient.

With the latter, users can access medical expertise via "judgement-free content developed with Fitbit advisors Katharine White, MD, MPH, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University, and Larry Tiglao, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Stanford Healthcare's Los Olivos Women's Medical Group in Los Gatos, CA".

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When it comes to Fitbit Pay, the company's wearable payment service, the situation is a little. unusual. It also brings fitness tracking that becomes more personalized over time and a new personalized health dashboard. Those numbers are a little misleading for United Kingdom users, where none of the major high-street banks now support the payment platform. It feels like a mass appeal smartwatch adding NFC payments would help spur adoption, but apparently that's not how Fitbit sees it. The company is debuting female health tracking on the Versa, which is a way for women to track and understand their menstrual cycle and how it connects to their health. This includes being able to label your energy levels and mood throughyour cycle, so you can begin to see patterns and make informed predictions.

Fitbit will also start giving users guidance for menstrual cycles, ovulation, fertility and common misconceptions. If you're the sort of person who is more interested in lifestyle tracking and spends most of the time working out in the gym, then the lack of Global Positioning System might not worry you.

Fitbit's first smartwatch, the Ionic, launched a year ago. Like a regular Fitbit, the Ace uses push notifications to encourage children to increase their steps or get moving if it senses a sustained period of inactivity. Last year, Facebook introduced Messenger Kids, a standalone app for kids ages six to 12.

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