Fitbit Doubles Down on Smartwatches With Versa

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

First, there's the price point of $199.95, which is $150 less than the starting price of the most up-to-date Apple Watch, and still $50 cheaper than the "entry-level" model Series 1. The watch features a "squircle" display, basically a square rounded at the edges. The company even included Boston University medical school professor Katherine White in its press briefing on Monday to explain some of the science behind the new app. If that claim holds true, it would make the Versa an attractive option.

It's the software that seems to be the most interesting new feature. Like the Ionic, it's platform agnostic.

The Fitbit Versa also has the technical chops to back up their attractive aesthetic, with a solid list of features that includes heart rate monitoring, 50 meter water resistance, on-board music storage, and compatibility with a huge number of watchfaces and apps - making it one of the most impressive Fitbits to date, and even one of the most fully-featured smartwatches in general. It's also safe for swimming. It feels like a mass appeal smartwatch adding NFC payments would help spur adoption, but apparently that's not how Fitbit sees it.

If you already know the Ionic, you'll know a lot of the fitness features included here. Clearly, this means notifications are somewhat limited compared to what you can get on the Apple Watch or Android Wear, but it still means that the basics are covered. That will extend to reminders and social challenges later in the year.

Unlike the Apple product, the Versa lacks a Global Positioning System and a cellular connection option.

It comes in a choice of finishes: black, silver or rose gold. Fitbit will soon add customised quick replies for notifications from an Android phone, and a special edition of the Versa launching in the USA will also come with a NFC chip to support payments over Fitbit Pay.

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Sleep tracking is also available on the Versa. More importantly, it is also missing Fitbit Pay, which is not widely available yet in any case, but maybe more felt in the future. It'll also feature a custom adidas clock face and is expected to arrive March 19 for $329.95.

The Fitbit Ace is the company's first kid-friendly fitness tracker, coming in Q2 for $99.95. The actual wearable device body is likely to look familiar, borrowing heavily from 2016's Alta design. The tracker will be available in two colours - "electric blue" and "power purple" - and will retail for $129.95 in Canada.

Of course, in marketing the Ace, Fitbit is looking to sell more trackers, but it appears to be handling the move in a responsible way: Kid accounts must be tied to an adult-created family account, and the child has limited access to the data, if any.

The trackers also allow users to monitor their sleep habits, and women can follow their menstrual cycles using the devices. The guideline is 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

Parental settings can limit what children are able to do using their Fitbit Aces.

Through the Fitbit app, parents can keep a close eye on their children's progress, activity, and friend requests.

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