Fitbit unveiled its eagerly awaited smartwatch on Monday - the Fitbit Ionic. Following its purchase of indie smartwatch company Pebble last December, it was only a matter of time before the wearable device maker brought out a new product to challenge the Apple Watch.
“Ionic offers a highly personalized experience not previously seen in other smartwatches,” according to a statement released on the company’s website. “Ionic builds on Fitbit’s health and fitness expertise with a new relative SpO2 sensor, making it possible to track deeper health insights like sleep apnea in the future, industry-leading GPS tracking, on-device dynamic workouts, improved heart rate tracking, and water resistance up to 50 meters.”
The smartwatch has a built-in NFC chip for making wireless mobile payments or for cardless access to buildings, hotels and other venues. It can also display app notifications and has its own selection of apps accessed through the new Fitbit App Gallery - their version of the App Store or Google’s Play Store.
“Over the coming months you will be able to add eligible American Express cards, as well as Mastercard and Visa credit and debit cards from top issuing banks in over 10 markets across the globe,” Fitbit said.
Accuweather, Starbucks, Pandora, and activity tracker Strava are the apps currently available on the Fitbit App Store. The statement also teased a forthcoming "special edition" watch in partnership with sportswear firm Adidas, similar the deal Apple had with Nike. The company is also offering a software development kit so developers can build their own apps to add to the store.
The Global Smartwatch Market report highlighted the importance of these features in the marketplace:
“One trend in the market is rising integration of entertainment apps. Smartwatches are highly in use as they allow quick and efficient communications. The entertainment apps section is one of the most popular sections of the smartwatch market.”
“According to the report, one driver in the market is increasing use of smartwatches for notifications. Several companies are manufacturing smartwatches that can provide notifications, apps, and several other features right at the wrists of users. Several smartwatch manufacturers include traditional companies such as Fossil and TAG Heuer, leading smartwatch companies like Apple and Samsung, as well as startups like Martian.”
Ionic will be available for pre-sale from Monday on Fitbit’s website and at some online retailers from Tuesday, the company said in a statement. It’s priced at $299.95 and the company says shipments are unlikely to start until late September.
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