Fitbit today announced its first proper smartwatches since its acquisition by Google in late 2021.
The Alphabet subsidiary updated its Inspire, Versa and Sense lines, breathing new life into an entity that has steadily lost ground to Samsung and Apple.
And while these products stay true to the company’s original vision, Fitbit has expanded its definition of health and wellness with new, lifestyle-oriented features.
A pivot to wellness
The flagship Fitbit Sense 2 device represents a slight change in direction for the company. Fitbit historically focused on physical activity. I mean, it was in the name. Fitbit.
Admittedly, Fitbit did a great job catering to this market. But its limited vision allowed rivals (namely Apple) to outflank the company in general wellness technology.
The Apple Watch is almost a medical device at this point, capable of identifying abnormal heart activity and more. It is used in real clinical settings, albeit to a limited level.
The Fitbit Sense 2 represents an attempt to hamper Apple’s progress here. Its distinctive feature is an always-on cEDA (continuous electrodermal activity) sensor that measures perspiration.
By itself, this is not particularly useful. But when you combine the EDA sensor with other metrics (such as the user’s heart rate, physical movement, etc.), you can identify the physical manifestations of anxiety.
Poor mental health is often invisible. It is the nature of the beast. As someone wracked with depression and anxiety, I have to admit I’m excited about this feature.
According to Google, Fitbit Sense 2 will highlight moments of distress, allowing the user to take action and build resilience.
The smartwatch will recommend actions the wearer can take, such as mindfulness sessions, guided breathing, and mood tracking.
focus on fitness
The Fitbit Versa 4 is a much more conventional device. It continues the company’s focus on fitness and can measure more than 40 types of exercise, more than twice as many as the previous model.
With built-in GPS, users can track their routes when running or cycling. Subscribers to Fitbit’s premium service also get access to the company’s daily fitness score.
This daily readiness score tells the user when to take a rest day or when to exercise intensely.
The simpler (and cheaper) Fitbit Inspire 3 follows a similar path, albeit in a smaller package. By eschewing many of the common smartwatch features, the tracker enjoys a battery life of ten days. By contrast, the Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 last around six days between charges.
The tracker touts the usual Fitbit features. Measure workouts, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and sleep activity.
It shows notifications, shows the time and also works as a wrist alarm clock. For interval training, it allows users to set timers and stopwatches.
Prices and availability
The Fitbit Inspire 3, which is a bargain, retails for $99 and includes a free six-month subscription to Fitbit’s premium service.
The Versa 4 and Sense 2 retail for $229.95 and $299.95, respectively, with a free six-month Fitbit Premium membership included.
Tempted shoppers can reserve the devices at Fitbit.com. Retail availability worldwide is expected later this fall.
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