Fitbit announces Ionic smartwatch and Flyer headphones

Fitbit Inc.             The Ionic watch will come in three different colors and can be used with interchangeable bands

The Apple Watch, though, looks to be gaining steam, and the launch of the Fitbit Ionic appears to be the company's acknowledgment that the future of wearables is more smart watch, less fitness tracker. Long rumored, we finally have the first Fitbit smartwatch and it's called the Ionic. "The Fitbit app software development kit (SDK) will be open to developers in September 2017", says Fitbit.

The Ionic is an ambitious and necessary move for Fitbit, as demand is clearly waning for stand-alone fitness trackers, at least in the U.S. The product category is still growing in China, where Xiaomi has been enjoying success with low-priced fitness trackers, but Fitbit doesn't really play in the Chinese market.

These are Fitbit's first wireless headphones, meant to work with the Ionic watch.

At least the Ionic is a much better-looking device than its predecessor, the Blaze.

The most valued addition to the Ionic is the Fitbit Pay.

Display of Fitbit's new Ionic smart watches. If you're on Android, though, the Fitbit Ionic is worth checking out. The Ionic comes in three strap and case color combinations: Blue Gray and Silver, Charcoal and Graphite Gray, and Slate Blue and Burnt Orange. In the morning the app will provide you with detailed info on light, deep and REM sleep stages.

Ionic's convex designhelps hide the bulk of its hear-rate sensor.

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So, is Fitbit too late to the smartwatch game? When you stop, the Ionic will pause or complete the workout. Even when you're not out for a run, there's a fairly simple logic in saying a wearable like the Fitbit Ionic is your all-purpose health device.

A new Fitbit Coach service powered by Fitstar lets you get personal training on your wrist with step-by-step visual instructions for a variety of workouts. Starting at $269, the chiclet device-which comes in dark gray, light silver, rose gold, and classic gold, with a bevy of additional options for extra cost-has Global Positioning System, a heart rate sensor, water resistance, personalized workouts, and guided breathing. The Ionic also supports interchangeable bands, with the company offering Sport, Leather, and Classic options. The watch costs $299 and has a roughly four-day battery life, but will face stiff competition from the Apple Watch, which starts at $269, and has the backing of a far larger app ecosystem, and a less dramatic design. New sensor technology is also featured called the "SpO2" sensor that estimates oxygen levels in the blood. The seamless payments made possible by the Fitbit Ionic may reduce friction for the active Fitbit consumers when they are making a payment. The company also is rolling out audio coaching sessions and virtual trainers on the smartwatch that take users through personalized workout sessions. For now, Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards from the "top banks" are supported in over 10 markets. Anyone with a bit of coding savvy will be able to create their own clock faces and apps from a web-based platform.

But it doesn't just have to be songs that you own.

For instance, you can store and listen to music while you exercise, and a partnership with Pandora will allow Pandora Premium and Plus subscribers to take Pandora stations offline to the device.

The Fitbit Flyer will run $129, putting it in the ballpark of other wireless earbuds.

With a sizable earpiece and a neck cord, Flyer isn't almost as diminutive as AirPods, but I found them comfortable enough to wear. Both of these products will be available to pre-order starting today on Fitbit's website and are expected to hit the stores later this year.



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