7 things you need to know about Fitbit's new Versa smartwatch


Indie smartwatch fans were screwed by the shutdown-their e-ink watches doomed to junk drawers once support lapsed-but there was reason to believe that Pebble, or at least its essence, could one day rise from the dead. It also chose to go with what it calls a "squircle" design - yes, really- softening the hard edges of a square with rounded corners to make it feel more inviting.

The sleek Versa is a lot easier on the eyes than the boxy Ionic, and feels nice and light on the wrist.

Apps were a major shortcoming of the Ionic smartwatch when it first launched, and while the landscape is marginally better now, it's still considerably behind the likes of watchOS, Android Wear and Tizen.

Fitbit today introduced a $200 smartwatch called the Versa, plus an low-priced new fitness tracker for kids.

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Fitbit acquired Pebble, a company widely credited for kickstarting the smartwatch industry in 2016, predominantly for its software assets. As such, Fitbit will be debuting female health tracking in the app. Fitbit told me that 25% of women it surveyed were already using some form of menstrual cycle tracking, and adding the capability to its devices was one of the top five requests from Fitbit's female users. That's because they're created to help women track menstrual cycles, record symptoms from those, and compare them across cycles. Fitbit clearly see this as a huge growth opportunity, and as a result, it plans to launch its own women's health features alongside Fitbit OS 2.0 sometime this spring.

The goal for Fitbit Ace, the company says, is to encourage kids to build habits around being physically active from an early age. In addition, for those looking to conceive, female health tracking might become a valuable tool to monitor your reproductive health. No longer are they glorified pedometers; they're much more than that. Fitbit is trying to make the OS smoother and more intuitive, and based on my short time with the device I think it's headed in the right direction. Fitbit's hardly alone among wearable makers in that oversight, of course, but the issue certainly stood out for a company whose products are aimed at a mainstream appeal. At a glance, it's reminiscent of the Apple Watch, which isn't a bad thing. Android users will get a new text message feature that allows them to send quick replies from their watches. It will ship this April. There's no GPS on the watch, so if you want to track your location you'll need to use the Connected GPS feature and go running with your phone.

It comes with internal storage that can store up to 300 songs.

Do you plan on picking up either one of Fitbit's new devices? The $229.95 Special Edition is made special by the inclusion of an NFC chip too for Fitbit Pay functionality. It's hard not to think of this as a cash grab for the US market.

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The Versa will come in three options for $199.95: a black case with a black strap, a silver aluminum case with a gray strap, and a rose gold case with a peach strap. Fitbit promises it's also durable and versatile, with a thin anodised aluminium case and a variety of stylish accessories.

The smartwatch has a touchscreen that offers 1,000 nits of brightness, and Fitbit says the Versa has a battery that can last more than 4 days on a single charge.

Speaking of playing your favorite tunes on your wrist, the Fitbit Versa and Ionic are both getting Deezer global offline streaming... with a subscription and external headphones.

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