What you need to know
- Fitbit has announced the Versa 2 — its latest smartwatch with Alexa, 5+ days of battery, and more.
- The company's launching Fitbit Premium for $10/month to access personalized programs/coaching.
- Also unveiled is the $50 Aria Air smart scale.
Once or twice a year, Fitbit takes to New York City to talk about its latest lineup of products to carry it though the next few months. Last March saw the unveiling of the Versa Lite, Inspire Series, and Ace 2, and on August 28, Fitbit showcased a new smartwatch and smart scale.
In addition to the new hardware, however, Fitbit also announced a big shift for the company — a renewed focus on services to tie all of its tech together.
Fitbit Versa 2
First thing's first, let's talk about Fitbit's latest smartwatch, the Versa 2.
The Versa 2 looks a lot like last year's Versa, and that's not a bad thing at all. The squircle design is sticking around for another year, and just like the Versa Lite that was announced this past March, Versa 2 opts for the single-button design instead of the original Versa's three-button system. The body looks a bit chunkier than the first Versa, but it feels comfy and lightweight when worn.
You'll still find pretty large bezels surrounding the Versa 2's display, but one thing that has changed is the type of panel being used. The Versa 2 ships with an AMOLED screen, and as expected, it's more colorful and vibrant than with deeper blacks compared to previous iterations of the smartwatch.
And, perhaps most important of all, the ugly "Fitbit" logo that used to be plastered below the display is no more 👏.
On the right frame of the Versa 2 is its biggest functional change over the first-gen model — a microphone. This is Fitbit's first wearable to offer a microphone, and that allows for a lot of new possibilities. Not only can you now use your voice to reply to text messages (this functionality is limited to Android users, similar to Quick Replies), you can also talk to Alexa. Similar to how you'd use Alexa on an Echo speaker, you can use the assistant on the Versa 2 to ask about the weather, check your calendar, start workouts, add items to your Amazon shopping list, etc. Accessing Alexa on the Versa 2 simply requires a press-and-hold of the side button, prompting everyone's favorite AI to be at your call and beckon.
Other aspects of the Versa 2 remain mostly the same. There's no dedicated GPS built into the watch, meaning you'll need to carry your phone with you in order to map outdoor walks/runs. Battery life has been slightly upgraded from 4+ days of use to 5+, while Fitbit Pay is now available as a default feature and not limited to the Special Edition model.
The Versa 2 is launching on September 15, and it retains the same price of the original Versa with a starting price of $199.95 and the Special Edition selling for slightly more at $229.95. The Special Edition comes with two watch bands instead of one, along with a 90-day free trial for Fitbit Premium (more on that soon).
If you want to be among the first to own Versa 2, pre-orders are open today.
Fitbit Aria Air
Fitbit's second hardware announcement took the form of the Aria Air.
The Aria Air records your weight and BMI when you step on it, and similar to other Aria scales, that information is synced with the Fitbit app.
This is Fitbit's first smart scale under $50, and it's a smart move for the company. Fitbit already dominates the $100+ smart scale niche with a market share of 73%, so this transition to a more affordable option is nice to see.
There's not a firm launch date for the Aria Air quite yet, but Fitbit says it'll be available at some point in October for $49.95.
Launching in September, Fitbit Premium is an enhanced version of the regular Fitbit app experience that's designed to give users more tools to live healthier lives.
There are many different layers to Fitbit Premium, with the main features being:
- Premium sleep tools — Guided sleep sessions, Sleep Score breakdown
- Guided programs — Activity, nutrition, and sleep programs that are tailored specifically for you
- Premium Challenges — New types of challenges to compete and work with friends towards fitness goals
- Premium Wellness Report — Printable report of your Fitbit data that can be shared with your doctor
- Premium Health Coaching — One-on-one coaching to help with weight-loss and diabetes management
Fitbit made a big deal about Premium during its press event, and rightfully so. As CEO James Park put it, the company's transitioning away from "episodic device sales" and moving towards a long-term service that'll instill an idea of "what it means to be on Fitbit versus using a Fitbit device."
Fitbit Premium will be entering a very crowded market, as services like MyFitnessPal, Lifesum, Lose It!, Noom, and others offer similar feature sets. With that said, Fitbit does have the unique advantage of combining so many tools into one program and tying that together with its hardware.
You'll be able to sign up for Fitbit Premium this September for either $9.99/month or $79.99/year. All Fitbit users will be able to get a free trial, and if you already pay for Fitbit Coach at $7.99/month, you'll be grandfathered into that price and migrate over to the Premium service.
A new age for Fitbit
I've been a fan of Fitbit's for a few years now, and as excited as I am for the Versa 2, I'm most intrigued by how Fitbit Premium will shape the company over the next few years.
The Fitbit ecosystem is one of the best in the health-tracking world, with a large part of this revolving around how well all of Fitbit's devices tie into the Fitbit app. In its current stage, the app offers in-depth statistics on your activity, free challenges for you to do with your friends, and access to Fitbit's in-app social network for other like-minded users.
Fitbit Premium looks like an enticing package and is priced quite competitively, but I am a little anxious to see how much Fitbit pushes it at people that use the app for free. None of the current functionality will be taken away, but constantly being asked to sign up for Premium could get annoying.
What is certain, however, is that Fitbit is entering this upcoming holiday season with an impressive package of hardware and software. For new and existing Fitbit users alike, these next couple of months should be pretty exciting.
New and improved
A familiar design paired with a host of new features.
The Versa 2 looks a lot like its predecessor, but it offers meaningful upgrades in all the right areas. It has a faster processor, more colorful AMOLED display, 5+ days of battery life, and a microphone that allows for easy access to built-in Amazon Alexa. Even better, the Versa 2 retains the same starting price of the original Versa — just $200
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