Now that the official announcement has been made for Fitbit's first smartwatch - the Ionic - the company is promising to deliver a wearable that offers powerful fitness-tracking and smartwatch features in one single package.
Although the company revealed the Blaze watch in 2016, that device is positioned by Fitbit as a fitness watch rather than a smart watch. The overall aesthetic of the Ionic looks similar to Fitbit's wearable trackers. Xiaomi and Apple tied for first place during that same period, with 3.6 million devices shipped.
Fitbit Ionic is now available to preorder on Fitbit.com and will be available at major retailers in October.
With a price tag of $299.95, Ionic is priced above Apple Watch's starting price of $269. After all, ditching the smartphone during a workout is one of the smartwatch's selling points, thanks to mobile payment and offline caching for music services like Pandora, so wireless earbuds are a bit of a no-brainer.
The sensor can also deliver more advanced stats like relative blood oxygen levels, which in turn helps the Ionic keep track of breathing habits. With GPS, waterproofing up to 50m and heart rate tracking, this Fitbit has all the capabilities you'd expect. I've been wearing them, and the quality is fine - pretty much on par with the competition.
Ionic will pair with your phone and use the Fitbit app, which is free to download and use.
So, is Fitbit too late to the smartwatch game? Fitbit is sticking by its DNA, sticking by what it knows incredibly well. Withings tried this a few years ago, and I wouldn't say it exactly set the world alight, and it's not even turned on by default in the Ionic, but is there for third parties to use it for various, slightly vague, future, potential health-monitoring applications. "It's about tracking your health and giving you all the data and moving on from there", Llamas said.
Read our Which Fitbit is Best roundup, which we will update further when we have had hands-on testing time with the new Ionic. It's not technically a health and fitness feature, but it is a valuable tool for someone looking for a cold drink at Starbucks after a workout, Llamas said. Plus, the Apple Watch already has a huge ecosystem of applications.
Perhaps the timing of a blizzard of announcements from Fitbit Inc.
You can begin pre-ordering the Fitbit Ionic fitness smartwatch today here in three color options, but it will not begin shipping until October. For now, Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards from the "top banks" are supported in over 10 markets.
Iconic is also an app platform with Strava, Accuweather, Flipboard and more apps coming, and a Fitbit SDK based on the company's Pebble acquisition so developers can create their own apps for the smartwatch. Only a handful of apps will be available at launch, but Fitbit will soon be opening up an software development kit so developers can tap into Ionic's sensors to build apps and watch faces just like they on watchOS and Android Wear. However, Fitbit with its premium offerings still remains as the go to brand in the high-end segment.
The operating system appears to be Fitbit's, but Fitbit claims "cross-platform compatibility". The built-in NFC chip will also provide an opportunity to develop apps for keyless and cardless access to buildings, hotels, sporting venues, and transportation. The coaching program will be available in the fall of 2017. The watch will also play nice, of course, with Fitbit's new headphones.