March 23, 2018

Fitbit unveils a cheaper smartwatch and a tracker for children

13 March 2018, 08:09 | Kevin Scott

Fitbit Versa smartwatch brings women's health tracking and a curvier design

Fitbit Versa brings female health tracking and a much-improved design

The all new Fitbit Versa is smaller than the Ionic, but comes with a lot of the same features we loved on that watch, from Fitbit Pay to third-party apps.

Fitbit has launched a new mass-market smartwatch called the Fitbit Versa, as well as a smartband activity tracker aimed at kids. It's also £100 cheaper. Fitbit's sleep-tracking dashboard is the most accurate and insightful of any fitness tracker I've tested, and putting that tech in a stylish device that only needs to be charged twice a week could make Versa more competitive with Apple Watch than the Ionic was.

One big omission compared to the Ionic – youll need to bring your own Global Positioning System. USA or Australian pricing has yet to be confirmed, so that may be a bit different when we hear from Fitbit.

At $200, the Fitbit Versa undercuts the Apple Watch Series 1 by $50, which is exactly what Fitbit needed to do to get this on more people's wrists.

"We've been panning our entry into smartwatches for a while", Fitbit CEO James Park told Mashable.

Fitbit sees the Versa's design as the basis of a new design language it can use for future devices.

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With childhood obesity and diabetes rates continuing to rise, Fitbit clearly believes it has a responsibility to help more than just parents get in shape. Becker explained that numerous parts of the design that interact with your skin are curved and made to appear and feel softer.

What's different is that the Versa will feature more personalized insights. The woven bands are exclusive to the Special Edition. 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.

When it comes to Fitbit Pay, the company's wearable payment service, the situation is a little. unusual.

The special editions of the Versa have NFC capabilities for Fitbit Pay in the U.S., but all Versa models sold in Asia will be able to use Fitbit Pay. According to the company, the Versa is the "lightest metal smartwatch" in the USA market right now. It's fully compatible with all of the apps designed for its more expensive predecessor, the Fitbit Ionic, which debuted just five months ago. You'll be able to log your cycle and record symptoms like headaches and cramps. The wearable brings a new version of Fitbit's OS with text notifications, on-device music, broader cross-platform compatibility, and easier navigation.

The Fibit cycle tracker will monitor the days of a user's cycle, estimate her fertile window, and monitor other aspects of a woman's reproductive health. There will also be groups in Fitbit's Community service for women to connect over. That's obviously not necessarily a bad thing, but here's hoping Fitbit uses its software know-how to craft some feature kids can get into before the Ace launches this Spring. If interested in that, you can learn more here. Tying into it all is a new female health tracking mode that will be introduced later this year. Essentially, Fitbit has replicated the smartphone app's dashboard on your wrist. The Versa promises to automatically track exercises, including running and biking. Melanie Chase says the closed nature of iOS doesn't allow them to offer the same functionality, but that it's looking at workarounds for specific apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

The Fitbit Versa is up for pre-order right now, is priced at $199.95, and ships in April.

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