PC & Tech Authority PC & Tech Authority Mobile
Tuesday August 22, 2017
What we know: The Fitbit smartwatch
by Mark Wilson | Aug 2, 2017 | Comment Now
Is Fitbit about to make you finally want a smartwatch?
What we know: The Fitbit smartwatch

The Apple Watch has had a pretty easy time of it in smartwatch town.

But galloping over from a nearby village called Fitbit is a smart gunslinger who reckons this town is big enough for the both of them.

Fitbit has confirmed that it is definitely building the logical evolutionary step from fitness trackers like the Blaze. To be fair, we had our suspicions when it bought Pebble and Vector last year.

But what will make Fitbit’s next wearable ‘smart’ rather than just another tracker? And how exactly will it avoid becoming just another Apple Watch clone? Here’s everything we know so far.

WHAT WILL IT LOOK LIKE?

Quite a lot like the Fitbit Blaze, if early leaks are to be trusted.

The only images we've seen so far, from Yahoo Finance, shows a somewhat angular, square-faced design.

Fronted by a colour screen (it’s not yet known if this will be a touchscreen), it has two hardware buttons on the side and an aluminium body, which will apparently be available in at least two colours (grey and gold).

The ‘leaked’ design is certainly more sporty than fashion-obsessed, but that’s to be expected from the fitness-focused Fitbit. If true, it looks like a good attempt at style Alan Partridge would deem 'sports casual'.  

WHAT WILL IT BE ABLE TO DO?

Everything the Blaze can do, plus quite a bit more.

The leaked images show heart-rate tracking, and it’d be staggering if the smartwatch didn’t have the same Fitbit PurePulse sensor as its other recent trackers.

According to reports, there’ll also be a more precise form of GPS, NFC payments and some kind of built-in music option. This is rumoured to be Pandora, with a Spotify tie-in ruled out early in development, according to Yahoo Finance’s source.

While that’d be a shame, an interview with the Financial Times revealed that the smartwatch will be waterproof, which is pretty much essential given the Apple Watch S2’s growing talents in the water. So far, only Fitbit’s Flex 2 has been fully waterproof.

There will also apparently be some bonus biometric sensors, which could go beyond the Blaze’s guided breathing and VO2 max equivalent for ranking your overall fitness. We’d expect these to venture further into the areas of stress and sleep areas, given Fitbit’s recent form with the Alta HR.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Fitbit’s smartwatch will apparently last for four days on a single charge. This would involve some careful software management of its colour screen, but it’s certainly possible given the Blaze’s five day battery life. If true, that'd be a big boon for a smartwatch.

WHAT ABOUT APPS?

Oh yes, the thing that separates a 'smartwatch' from a mere fitness tracker.

Well, Fitbit’s CEO confirmed to The Verge that its Apple Watch rival will launch with an ‘app gallery’. What’s unclear is what form that gallery will take or how well stocked it'll be.

Fitbit has apparently been trying to lure developers onto its new platform, including those who made apps for the Pebble. But do developers, or users, want to start again on yet another platform?

The carrot for the former might be the SDK (software development kit) that Fitbit inherited from Pebble. This should let developers tweak existing apps for the platform and make them available for both iOS and Android smartphones.

Still, it looks likely that you’ll need your smartphone (or Wi-Fi) nearby to get these apps – Fitbit’s CEO recently told the Financial Times that the smartwatch definitely won’t have standalone network connectivity. Given the extra size and battery demands this brings, we can't say we're disappointed.

ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?

Well, yes if you're a hankering after the dream combo of a music-playing smartwatch with matching Bluetooth earphones.

Another leaked image from Yahoo Finance suggests that Fitbit is working on a pair of such earphones to launch simultaneously with its smartwatch.

The buds will apparently be attached by a cable and come in both blue and grey versions. 

FITBIT SMARTWATCH - EARLY THOUGHTS

It's pretty certain that we’ll see a Fitbit smartwatch this year, with its CEO recently telling the Financial Times that it’s “on track” and likely to be the company’s “make or break” device.

That’s certainly a fair assessment, considering the slowing appetite for fitness trackers and the likelihood that we’ll see an Apple Watch S3 in either late 2017 or early next year.

Fitbit rightly seems to be shying away from taking on the Apple Watch at its premium smartwatch game, instead offering a more affordable, fitness-obsessed alternative for both iOS and Android fans.

The rumours point to a waterproof, upgraded Fitbit Blaze with GPS, NFC, heart-rate tracking, an app store and a four-day battery life. On paper, that sounds like a fine Christmas present for someone who’s looking to take the step up from a fitness tracker, and worth waiting for if you’re in the market for a smartwatch.

But with doubts around its ‘app gallery’, what music services it’ll offer and the watch’s design, there’s a long way to go before we can see whether Fitbit’s big gamble will be a podium-worthy hit or a spectacular own goal.



Copyright © Stuff.tv
Please note that some HTML content may have been removed from this article to improve the viewing experience on mobile devices.

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
BIT | CRN | iTnews | IoT Hub | PC PowerPlay