Fitbit is getting into the full-on smartwatch game. The company today introduced the Ionic, a true smartwatch with Apple Watch/Android Wear-like capabilities, unlike anything the company has done in the past. The device costs $299 and will begin shipping this October.
Like I just said, the Ionic is a smartwatch, through and through. It has its own app SDK for developers to build with, it works on both iOS and Android, there are various clock faces available, and there’s a 4+ day battery. A wireless payment system is even on the watch alongside 2.5GB of storage for storing offline music with Pandora integration. Notifications can pop up on your wrist, there’s a touchscreen – the Ionic is probably the most feature-packed Fitbit ever. Of course, since it’s a Fitbit, you have a whole suite of fitness-tracking features, and there’s probably more than what you’d assume.
It’s the most jam-packed Fitbit of all time.
For starters, the Ionic features a built-in GPS for tracking where you go during walks and runs, it’s resistant enough to withstand 50 meters of water, there’s a heart rate sensor, and the thing even packs an Sp02 for measuring your blood oxygen levels. Fitbit Coach is on board for accessing on-demand workout sessions on your wrist; a runing companion automatically identifies when you start and will keep tab on how fast you’re going and where you go; a new swim exercise mode is compatible since the device is as water resistant as it is; and you can swap out bands for whatever kind you want to better suit different workouts and times during your day. This thing is definitely jam packed, and it sounds like it’s all pretty useful.
The Ionic has a list of struggles as long as it does a feature list.
Of course, the Ionic will face stiff competition. What with the Apple Watch being as popular it is now and Android Wear slowly becoming more mainstream, the watch will no doubt have an uphill battle to climb. Not only that, Fitbit is also new to the whole smartwatch game. Charging $299 for the device sounds appealing especially considering what the prices are for similar watches on the market, but I’m not sure how many Fitbit loyalists are even used to spending more than $200 on their fitness trackers. Basically, the Ionic has a list of struggles as long as it does a feature list.
Fitbit is also making a pretty big splash with the Ionic. It’s working with banks to deliver Fitbit Pay in the US, Canada, and other regions over time, it built a dedicated SDK for developers to use to add functionality to the watch, and it’s even partnering with Adidas for a special edition of the device set for release sometime in 2018. Fitbit’s definitely going aggressive with this wearable, and it remains unclear how well this will pay off. Either they’ll succeed or fail, and it all depends on how well the market responds.
A quote from Fitbit’s CEO and co-founder should give you an idea of how optimistic they’re being with the Ionic.
“Ten years ago, Fitbit pioneered the wearables category with the introduction of its first health and fitness tracker. Since then, we have become the leading global wearables brand, setting the pace of innovation in the category and establishing the largest social fitness network that helps millions of people around the world be healthier,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit. “With Ionic, we will deliver what consumers have not yet seen in a smartwatch – a health and fitness first platform that combines the power of personalization and deeper insights with our most advanced technology to date, unlocking opportunities for unprecedented health tracking capabilities in the future.”
You can learn more about the device here.