Fitbit Ionic review: Meet the $300 fitness-centered smartwatch

Fitbit is aware of a way to make an exercising device; what about a smartwatch?

Fitbit has plenty riding on its new $three hundred Ionic smartwatch. Analyst reports advocate the smartwatch category will keep growing over the next few years, and Apple and Google have already got well-established gadgets and operating structures. Being one of the pinnacle gamers in the wearables recreation, Fitbit is unlikely to construct a tool that runs Android Wear (a good deal less watchOS), so it designs its personal devices from the floor up. The Ionic is Fitbit’s severe try at a smartwatch, a ways greater so than the $two hundred Blaze that got here out final year. Running Fitbit OS, the Ionic combines the most critical health capabilities with what Fitbit believes to be the most crucial smartwatch capabilities.

While trying out the Ionic, I asked myself important questions: does it provide the first-rate fitness revel in for the charge? And does Fitbit thoughtfully contain best smartwatch features into a typically health-centered tool? It does—but there may be better solutions available.

Design

It turned into hard to be excited whilst the primary pictures of the Ionic leaked months before its debut. Those images confirmed many of our worst fears: Fitbit setup stuck with the middle design that stimulated the Blaze fitness watch, that’s chunky and unattractive at great.Fitbit

The Ionic isn’t elegant, however, few smartwatches are. However, it does enhance at the Blaze in several approaches. First, the module’s unibody layout is thoughtfully made with nano-molding technology; this fuses metal and plastic together to make a non-stop tool and lets in the Ionic to be water resistant up to 50 meters. The tool is extraordinarily skinny thanks to the internal grouping of the GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi antennas, and the unibody layout also approaches that it is no longer a module held in the region by means of square reduce out of metallic, which is the Blaze’s biggest layout sin. The Ionic’s module is a single piece of barely curved hardware that attaches to two ends of a wristband, just like the Apple Watch and maximum Android Wear gadgets.

The well-suited Ionic bands also are similar to those available for its competition. Fitbit evolved its own normal, game, and leather-based accessories for the best smartwatch, all of which have a traditional watch-like adjustable clasp. I had one of every and they’re normally secure. My favored is the sports band because it has holes all over to allow better airflow to the pores and skin. It won’t be an original layout, but it prevents skin irritation via exercising and past.

Fitbit’s mechanism to connect and detach the bands is just like that on the Apple Watch. Small, narrow buttons at both cease of the module release the band portions, allowing you to fast snap in others. Fitbit’s method is definitely simpler than Apple’s because the Apple Watch’s band-launch buttons are built into the module itself rather than on its aspect. To launch the ones, you want a sharp object or lengthy fingernails to press and preserve the button long enough to slip the band portions out of their class. Props to Fitbit white for creating a comparable mechanism that is quicker to finish and easier on the palms.

What you engage with a maximum at the Ionic is the 1.4-inch, 348 x 250-decision, 1,000-nit touchscreen, which is tremendous to look at in both right and awful lights. The backside bezel is the most important and has the Fitbit call on it, whilst the facet and top bezels are slimmer. The black part of the module is deceiving, even though, because it’s now not all display actual estate. Hugging the display are three physical buttons: one at the left facet for powering up the device and on the right facet for in-pastime picks. The top-proper button doubles as a quick-get entry to the button to the Today app, which shows your present-day health facts, at the same time as one press of the bottom-right button quick opens the Exercise app.

 

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On the lowest of the module are the magnetic nodes that connect with the proprietary charging cable and the heart price screen. Fitbit designed the bottom of the Ionic to be flat towards the skin, with no ridges or indentations across the optical coronary heart rate display. This must produce more accurate readings, way to the shortage of pressure points created by way of uneven surfaces.

There’s a SpO2 screen—a peculiar sensor which measures oxygen stages inside the blood—within the Ionic. Fitbit claims this may sooner or later alert customers to issues like sleep apnea, however right now it has no outward-facing functions. There’s no blood oxygen indicator on the Ionic, nor is there a phase for that information within the Fitbit app. According to a Fitbit representative, the business enterprise is “nonetheless exploring how this will show up inside the client experience,” which means that for now, you won’t even are aware of it exists.

A massive a part of the Ionic’s attraction is its 195mAh battery life. Fitbit claims the tool can last greater than four days at a single price or 10 hours while using GPS. After four days of consecutive use of my Ionic, the battery turned into nonetheless at forty-five percent; the day after today I used the GPS a chunk, and that knocked the remaining battery life all the way down to approximately 38 percent. It’s clear that battery lifestyles are one of the fine functions of the Ionic, especially considering the Apple Watch and maximum Android Wear gadgets can simplest ultimate a most of two days on a single price.

Activity capabilities

The Ionic runs Fitbit OS, the employer’s very own working device with a purpose to be used on all its smartwatch devices going forward. It’s dependent in addition to other wearable running structures, with an eye fixed-face homepage and adjoining pages web hosting apps on hand via swiping left or right. We’ll get into the opposite apps at the Ionic when we speak its best android smartwatch features, but for now, we will awareness on the Exercise app. This is in which you may find all the sporting events you could tune directly from the watch. You can load as much as seven exercising shortcuts onto the watch at one time, and the default shortcuts include run, motorbike, swim, and treadmill. (There is 20 total, consisting of extra-precise sports like yoga, martial arts, hiking, and golf.)

As with other trackers, you may categorize workouts as other physical games within the Fitbit mobile app; in doing so, you have a far wider listing of trackable sports. But in evaluation to Apple Watches and Android Wear devices, the Ionic does not have as many options to be had on the device. Fitbit does, but, assist you to personalize functions like GPS and car-pause for each exercising. These and different features can be edited right earlier than beginning an exercise through tapping the equipment icon on the pinnacle-left corner of the device’s display. The GPS on/off choice will are available accessible in case you’re doing an indoor version of an exercising rather than an outdoor session.

Starting an exercise on the Ionic is as simple as urgent the “go” arrow at the bottom-right nook of the show or hitting the bottom-right button on the aspect. All of the Ionic’s workout routines are “quick start” in this sense. (Apple has additionally updated its Workout app in watchOS 4 to have short-start options. Before the watchOS four update, best your maximum-used workouts would start without delay upon hitting the icon within the Workout app. All others would ask you to define an exercise purpose primarily based on distance, time, or energy burned.) But you cannot define a purpose for a man or woman exercising with the Ionic.

During an exercise, the Ionic’s display indicates three stats at a time. You can customize those from each workout’s settings without delay on the watch, choosing information that appears on the top, backside, and middle of the display. By default, top and backside stats are already selected, but you may swipe on the middle phase of the show to scroll via all available data inclusive of time, steps, energy, heart charge, distance, and tempo records. I liked having that flexibility with the center segment, but I constantly made positive that the facts most critical to me changed into the set for the pinnacle and bottom sections. You can customize visible in-workout stats at the Apple Watch as well (it is able to display four at a time at the show), however, you cannot achieve this at the watch; you need to edit settings in the Watch app on iOS.

Fitbit includes a Weight exercise shortcut on the Ionic; however, it doesn’t have a rep counting or workout reputation characteristic. Android Wear 2.0 introduced aid for rep counting and a few exercise reputation, permitting you to boost weights, enter the quantity of weight lifted, and entire sports like crunches or bicycles comfortably. New Garmin gadgets just like the $a hundred and forty Vivosmart three remember reps as nicely, so it seems like Fitbit missed a possibility on that front.

Heart rate monitor

Inside the Ionic is Fitbit’s PurePulse heart fee monitoring technology that still seems in its different health trackers, together with the Alta HR. While the Ionic’s coronary heart charge reveal floundered the primary few instances I used it (it become 20 BPMs off more than one instance), I didn’t enjoy many problems after that. Fitbit recommends wearing the Ionic 3-hands-width away from your wrist bone—and tight sufficient so it can not wobble. The Ionic’s heart rate reveal became a stable maximum of the time while as compared to the Polar H10 coronary heart price chest strap and to the heart fee display on the Apple Watch Series 2, studying my coronary heart fee within 2 BPM of those other gadgets.

GPS

The GPS in the Ionic labored as expected. It took about one minute for the GPS to seize my region earlier than an outside run. That’s now not speedy, however, you do not ought to anticipate the GPS to find your location before heading out, and as soon as I started, the device did map my route appropriately.

The Ionic is a primary development over the GPS in the Fitbit Surge, which become released about 3 years ago. The Blaze most effective had “connected GPS,” meaning it knew your area simplest by means of using your smartphone’s GPS (which intended carrying your telephone while running out). Considering the Fitbit Surge will possibly get replaced through the Ionic, it’s true to look Fitbit make onboard GPS a strong function on its high-stop tracker.

Sleep tracking

The Ionic outshines the Apple Watch in sleep monitoring. Apple nevertheless would not natively assist sleep tracking with its wearable (even though there are 0.33-birthday party apps you may use to track), but Fitbit has tracked sleep for years across more than one devices. The Ionic uses its continuous heart fee monitor to music pulse all through sleep, which lets in it to categorize your state into wakeful, REM, light, and deep sleep. I always revel in searching on the sleep line graphs within the Fitbit app because I can see after I wakened and how lengthy I changed into within the unique sleep tiers the night time earlier than. It’s also clean after I don’t have an awesome night’s sleep, as my graphs display plenty greater conscious time than they do REM or deep sleep.

Smart Track

Fitbit’s Smart Track characteristic is also a perk that Apple Watches and Android Wear devices do not have. Smart Track mechanically recognizes physical games after you’ve got performed them for a fixed amount of time. Smart Track has advanced over the years so that you can now customize that set quantity of time; I typically maintain mine at 10 minutes for every activity. It’s no longer simply confined to running, biking, or different sports activities, both; Smart Track on my Ionic most often facts durations of lengthy walking when I’m moving around Manhattan or purchasing on the mall.

Fitbit Coach

The “Dynamic workout” is part of the tool’s guided training characteristic. It offers you a short exercising to complete, and when you’re completed, you may inform the device if it becomes too hard, too clean, or simply right for you. Dynamic exercise will then produce any other exercising it really is higher suited in your health stage.

Fitbit says this option will arrive later q4, however, I was disappointed that I could not check this one out. Personalized exercises are huge perks for health trackers just like the Ionic—and the simpler they’re to use, the higher they’re at giving the user an extra tailor-made exercising experience.

Also drawing close are intention-oriented exercising regimens that last for weeks, like a software that preps the consumer for a 5K race, similarly to eating regimen regimens that target habits like reducing the amount of sugar you consume.

Most of these guided exercising and weight loss plan workouts can be sequestered at the back of a paywall; users will pay a month-to-month charge for access. The Ionic comes preloaded with 3 guided exercise routines, but you may join up in case you need access to any others.

How are they? Well, the ten-minute Abs workout inside the Coach app on the Ionic is wonderful. This recurring guides you through some of the exercises that target your core; you may preview them by using tapping at the listing icon at the pinnacle-right corner of the exercising’s display screen. The list names the sporting events you’ll do, in which order, and the quantity of instances you’ll complete them or the duration of time important for finishing touch (as an instance, 30 seconds in preference to 30 reps).

During the circuit, the Ionic’s show indicates you the way to do the exercise with a picture of a real man or woman (no stick discern iconography) along with the wide variety of reps or time length earlier than transferring directly to the subsequent exercise. It doesn’t appear that the Ionic certainly acknowledges and counts each rep you complete, though; I paused for some seconds for the duration of the ab workout and the rep counter persisted to feature reps as if I turned into finishing them in real-time. It’s safe to say the Ionic assumes you entire a rep each 2d or so, that means you can without problems move at your personal tempo and nevertheless pass on to the next workout. Because of this, you may prefer the time-primarily based physical games in those workouts, however, maximum exercises will possibly have a combination on rep- and time-primarily based sports. Aside from the rep-cheating possibility, I loved the 10-Minute Abs ordinary, which become fairly tough even for a person like me who is familiar with every exercise within the exercise.Ionic

While the guided exercising offerings are slim right now, at least they exist. Neither Apple Watches nor Android Wear gadgets have locally guided workout routines. The closest aspect the Apple Watch has with watchOS four is customized monthly challenges, which present a fitness undertaking primarily based on your beyond the month of a hobby. Fitbit’s offerings take me back to the fact extra of the Microsoft Band, which treated guided workouts quite well. You should even go browsing to Microsoft’s laptop program for the Band and make your own exercise exercises by means of combining man or woman sporting events to make a circuit. I nonetheless desire that a wearable will carry this feature again from the useless a few days.

Arc watch face at the Ionic.
Tappable stats at the Arc watch face.
1-Minute Abs exercising in Fitbit Coach.
List of sports covered in the 10-Minute Abs exercise.
Today view, displaying your modern health information for the day.
Elliptical workout shortcut in the Exercise app.
Pressing the tools icon on the exercise shortcut brings up customizable settings for each activity.

Guided respiration

The Ionic also has Fitbit’s guided respiration characteristic, which leads you via pair minutes of deep breathing meditation. This characteristic uses the Ionic’s show with the aid of encouraging you to follow an expanding and deflating circle—inhale while the circle inflates, exhale while the circle deflates. The device also vibrates lightly while you’re purported to inhale and exhale. None of this differs plenty from guided breathing on other Fitbit devices like the Charge 2, but you could enjoy the total-color animations on the Ionic.

I’m trying to meditate often, however, I personally decide on audio-guided meditation like the app Headspace gives. I do not like observing the Ionic display and looking to suit my breath with the circles—in fact, final my eyes and respiratory deeply at my very own pace is what I like excellent approximate meditation. This is tough even as staring at a display or expecting my wrist to vibrate.

As on maximum fitness gadgets, the Ionic has reminders to move and cute animations whilst you attain your overall fitness purpose every day. The device encourages you to complete about 250 steps per hour with a little dancing stick parent animation driven for your wrist as soon as consistent with the hour. This is slightly extraordinary than the Apple Watch, wherein you get “stand signals” to remind you to arise from your seat in the course of instances you’ve got selected. Also now, in watches 4, you will get an end-of-the-day alert from the Activity app that tells you the way you can near your circulate ring for the day. A 10-minute walk might do it someday, or you may need a 30-minute stroll if you have not been that active every other day. I like the ones clean quantitative pointers due to the fact they get rid of the thriller round attaining a flow goal.

Smartwatch features

The Ionic is Fitbit’s first actual smartwatch. It has a working gadget known as Fitbit OS, and it connects via Bluetooth to iOS, Android, and Windows smartphones. Apple Watches simplest paintings with iOS devices, Android Wear devices paintings excellent on Android gadgets (even if they do guide iOS devices), and Windows smartphones had been totally neglected by using maximum currently announced wearables. If you’re interested in the Ionic and you very own a cellphone, possibilities are it the 2 will paintings collectively.

Let’s discover Fitbit OS. The predominant display is your watch face, which you can personalize by way of selecting specific designs in the Fitbit mobile app. Only one watch face is offered at the Ionic at a time, so everyone who likes the potential to swipe between favorites (as you can do at the Apple Watch) may be upset. From the watch face, swipe to the right to convey up show and notification settings and to see the Ionic’s final battery lifestyles. Swipe down from the top of the watch face to see your present-day track selection; swipe up from the bottom to see all of the phone signals you haven’t disregarded yet.

Swiping to the left from the right facet of the show brings you to the diverse app pages on the Ionic. By default, there are four pages that keep a number of preloaded apps: Today, Weather, Exercise, Coach, Music, Wallet, Timers, Relax, Settings, Pandora, Alarms, Strava, and Starbucks. It’s a totally simple setup, but one that must be clean to recognize even if you’ve in no way used some other smartwatch earlier than. It’s almost like using a telephone in that there are four apps consistent with the web page and also you certainly swipe to special pages to get right of entry to extraordinary apps. You also can press and keep on an app icon to transport it to every other location.

Notifications

Like many best smartwatch for iPhone, and unlike other Fitbit devices earlier than it, the ionic bond can obtain all your smartphone’s notifications if you want. You can customize these in the Fitbit app, turning on or off indicators from precise apps. I admire the enhancing electricity because I don’t need a few apps to have to get right to entry to my wrist.

However, the exception of the Ionic’s telephone notifications is sub-par. When a text alert pops up, you could only examine a snippet of the message and also you can not respond from the watch or engage with it at all. The only things you could do are dismiss it or permit it to funnel into the notification drawer. Swiping up from the bottom of the display suggests all notifications you have not disregarded yet, and tapping on one simplest well-known shows the app from which it got here and a difficult estimate of whilst you obtained the alert (like “2 hours ago”). Both watchOS and Android Wear will let you interact with alerts to a few diploma, and on each, you can reply to messages by means of either using your voice, choosing a canned response, scribbling an emoji, or typing custom text on a tiny keyboard.

In popular, the notifications look unfinished when as compared to the ones on watchOS or Android Wear. Fitbit’s alerts are by and large textual content, some in distinct shades depending on the app from which they got here, and unique characters and overseas characters are frequently changed by means of question-mark mystery characters. A few emojis pop up here and there and that they add some livelihood to the signals, but in any other case, they sense sadly compared to the ones on other devices.

Watch Faces

At least the watch faces take benefit of the Ionic’s lovable display. Currently, there are 17 watch faces, and some of them feature small bits of other information which might be corresponding to headaches on watchOS and Android Wear. However, this statistic is more often than not focused on fitness; a few watch faces have small circles and numbers that suggest steps taken, energy burned, modern-day heart price, active mins completed, and extra.

The only large issue I had with watch faces (aside from the truth you can best have one by one at the Ionic) is that it took a strong 30 seconds for a brand new watch face to update my cutting-edge one. After deciding on the brand new face you need in the Fitbit app, tapping the “installation” button starts the method—which takes tons too long. The Ionic lets out a bit vibration when the brand new watch face is ready to head, however, it should no longer take extra than a pair seconds to exchange the look and feel of your digital timepiece.

Noticeably absent from the Ionic smartwatch is a virtual, voice-managed assistant. Apple has Siri on its wearables, and Google has Google Assistant on its Android Wear gadgets. Using embedded mics on the Apple Watch and Android Wear gadgets, you may ask these assistants questions and they may fetch the solutions for you. Siri can even communicate again to you in watchOS 4. I’m not surprised that Fitbit didn’t create a virtual assistant for the Ionic because neither Siri nor Google Assistant is vital for the health to enjoy on those devices. Still, voice manage does make fundamental query-and-solution interaction smooth and amusing on smartwatches.

NFC bills

The Ionic has its personal NFC fee gadget referred to as Fitbit Pay. Other than the truth that it exists, Fitbit Pay isn’t always pretty thrilling. It works like different contactless payment structures, allowing you to pay for things via preserving the Ionic up to a reader and paying with a preloaded credit card. You can connect a couple of-of your credit cards to Fitbit Pay, however simplest one may be the default. The characteristic currently works with American Express, MasterCard, and Visa credit score cards, and Fitbit is looking to partner with some banks within the destiny as nicely.

The characteristic makes sense. With the Ionic’s onboard GPS, it’s a great preference for out of doors workouts, and people who leave their smartphones and wallets at domestic can still purchase a post-workout smoothie. After every transaction, a notification pops up at the Ionic’s show, showing you ways much was charged to your card.

Onboard track

The Ionic has an area to keep about three hundred songs that you can get entry to without a phone nearby. You can simplest populate the Ionic with neighborhood song documents (MP3, AAC, and WMA file types) or a playlist synced from a paid Pandora account. That’s superb if you’re one of the 4.8 million Pandora subscribers—however, it is a bummer in case you’re one of the 60 million paid Spotify customers or one in every of Apple Music’s 27 million subscribers.

Pairing Fitbit’s new Flyer wireless earbuds to the Ionic become a breeze: urgent the button on the right Flyer bud for a couple of seconds puts it into pairing mode, and navigating to the Bluetooth segment of the Settings app on the tool will provoke pairing nearly at once.

I want I should say the identical about the benefit of the Ionic’s onboard track syncing revel in. I went the neighborhood record direction in view that I don’t pay for Pandora, and it’s an incredibly buggy revel in. Ideally, you connect your Ionic to the same Wi-Fi community that your PC is connected to via the Fitbit mobile app and then open up the Fitbit Connect computing device software. There’s now a bold “Manage My Music” choice on Connect’s domestic web page, which then brings you to a web page with identified music playlists from assets like iTunes. Then you must enter “switch” mode by means of going to the Music app at the Ionic. That makes your Ionic recognizable and geared up to accept music wirelessly out of your PC. You pick out the playlists you need to sync in the Connect program, and within a few minutes, all of them sync with your Ionic. In principle.

Until the day before publishing this evaluation, I wasn’t able to sync the song to my Ionic. Fitbit emphasized that my Connect software program is an “early build” and that the employer is operating on it, so things may be higher by the time users get their arms at the Ionic this October. Even this seems to be proper, the Ionic’s track syncing experience is quite clumsy. Both Apple’s and Google’s music offerings let you download documents to their respective wearables out of your cellphone—no PC or desktop software required. Only paid Pandora subscribers may have even a fraction of that smoothness whilst syncing music to the Ionic.

Other apps

There are not many 0.33-birthday party apps to be had for the Ionic but, so it is hard to say what the app enjoy may be like in the destiny. In the next phase, we communicate approximately Fitbit Studio and how that ought to make it less difficult for builders to create Fitbit OS apps. It makes me wonder if we’re going to see a few beneficial apps made for Fitbit’s working machine. As it stands now, the Ionic is mostly a fitness device with a few smartwatch features. While every smartwatch employer is trying to decipher the mystery of apps on smartwatches, a few are already quite realistic.

For example, Apple Maps on Apple Watches and Google Maps on Android each provide turn-with the aid of-turn using directions the use of on-tool maps and vibrations. With a nearby smartphone, that revel in is extremely good due to the fact you get the audio comments from the cellular app as well as the physical vibrations from the wearable app. Without a telephone (or with audio grew to become down), you continue to get wrist-based totally signals whilst you need to showdown every other road while not having to take your eyes off the road. Hopefully savvy builders will make in addition practical apps for the Ionic so it can be an excellent higher smartwatch similarly to an effective health device.

Fitbit app and Fitbit Studio

The Fitbit mobile app hasn’t modified tons given that we reviewed the Alta HR, and it remains the great partner mobile app for any fitness tool. Everything you’ll want to recognize about your personal health is obtainable from the homepage through squared-off sections: steps, distance, calories, active mins, and floors climbed to take a seat on the top with exercise, steps according to hour, heart charge, sleep, weight, water intake, and diet sections under those stats. You also can add sections for tracking exercise, logging meals, sleep, weight, or water, adding a chum, or scanning a barcode. These sections make your maximum used interactions quickly available so that you don’t should move digging for them in other pages of the app.

It’s clear how a whole lot further Apple and Google ought to go along with their health app reviews while searching on the Fitbit exercise web page. It’s tremendously intuitive with a swipeable segment on the top providing your goals, a monthly breakdown of workout conduct, and graphs for workout length, distance, coronary heart price, and calories burned through the years. Below the graph is a list of all your logged workout routines, and you can upload any you forgot to log in real-time.

Each exercise is represented with the aid of an information card with the categorization of the exercising, date and time of record, distance, pace, common coronary heart price, and a bar graph displaying how a whole lot of the exercising became spent in extraordinary heart charge zones. You should just forestall there, however for the ones interested in more stats, you may faucet on the card to convey up detailed data. The man or woman exercise page shows the precise amount of time spent in every coronary heart rate zone, a line graph of heart fee changes over the duration of the exercise, every other graph of calories burned over the years, and “effect to your day” stats like what number of energetic mins you received from this exercising.

Fitbit has executed a high-quality process constructing out a health and fitness atmosphere within its essential cell app that not most effective focuses on the consumer’s facts, but additionally on extra ways to improve the user’s health. The other sections in the app consist of Challenges, which feature place-based totally walks that take you thru locations like New York City or Yosemite’s Vernal Falls as well as goal-orientated demanding situations that propose such things as stepping up your pass game during your paintings week; Guidance, which holds some of the equipped-to-move guided workouts; and Social, wherein customers can hook up with their friends that also use Fitbit devices. Both Apple and Google have a few sharing features of their fitness apps, however in widespread Apple’s Activity app and Google’s Fit app consciousness on showing health stats and no longer a lot else.smartwatch

Fitbit Studio

Fitbit Studio is the employer’s Web tool for creating new apps and watch faces for the Ionic (and doubtlessly other devices jogging Fitbit OS). It’s now not available to all yet, but I did receive a demo of the machine. Apps and watch faces have created the usage of Javascript, CSS, and SVG, making it easy for developers at most tiers to experiment with making programs.

I participated in a demo in which I custom designed my very own Ionic watch face in Studio, and this system became easy to apply and navigate. You can take a look at out your creations on your very own device or take hold of a shareable link to send in your pals and family to get their remarks. (That shareable hyperlink is essentially personal as your app may not be to be had at the Fitbit App Gallery but.) Once you are glad about your app or watch face, you can publish it to Fitbit for evaluation. All programs that Fitbit approves may be accessed by means of all Fitbit customers at the App Gallery in the Fitbit app.

This quickly-to-be-launched App Gallery is corresponding to Pebble’s app save that lived inside its cell app. Fitbit received Pebble on the end of 2016 for around $34 million, and it is clear that the developer network that stuck round helped create the onboard app framework and experience for Fitbit. Another exceptional feature of the App Gallery is that every app is standalone, so you don’t need to download a partner cellular app for your phone. Android Wear treats apps like this and it even has an on-tool Play Store, while Apple nevertheless calls for you to have the cell app on your phone earlier than you can get right of entry to watchOS features on one among its wearables.

Good now—with any luck better with time

There’s a drawback to getting new gadgets before all people else does: now not the entirety the tool is probably able to do is prepared. Some of the capabilities I changed into most excited to test at the Ionic aren’t absolutely geared up but: Dynamic workouts, the brand new Fitbit Coach app and enjoy, the completed App Gallery, and (to a degree) its onboard song talents. It’s tough to evaluate a product’s initial fee, lots much less its toughness when a number of the most interesting features aren’t available.

Fitbit has driven out software program and firmware updates to its different devices properly, so I do have faith the announced functions will work as promised at the Ionic. But that doesn’t help us now, nor does it assist making a decision if you should purchase the Ionic at launch.

Fitbit did deliver on one factor it promised: sticking to its fitness roots. The Ionic is a wonderfully successful health watch with each feature you’ll anticipate in a $300 fee device: coronary heart price monitoring, GPS monitoring, NFC bills, onboard track garage, phone signals, and third-party app integration. Guided exercises are done thoughtfully at the Ionic, though I can only desire Fitbit throws its users a few extra bones with additional free guided workouts before it asks them to pay for Fitbit Coach each month.

But even if the Ionic has all the capabilities you’d count on a $300 wearable (plus a few extras), that does not imply the way Fitbit accomplished them at the tool is exceptional you could get. The Ionic is a strong fitness tracking watch, however, it’s a lackluster smartwatch. Its phone signals are stagnant and uninteresting, the procedure of having a tune on the tool is clunky and frustrating, having simplest one watch face to be had at the tool at one time stinks, and 0.33-party apps proper now are restrained.

I would now not propose the Ionic to an iPhone consumer because you can get a higher smartwatch experience—and a similar fitness experience—with an Apple Watch. I could propose the Ionic to an Android person if the health experience means more to you than the smartwatch revel in. But even then, it is probably well worth waiting—no longer due to the Ionic’s health chops however due to the fact Garmin has the $300 Vivoactive 3 coming soon, and it seems to have similar features.

Fitbit stuck to its roots with the Ionic and produced a good health watch—but it’s no longer the excellent all-cause wearable you may get for $300.

The Good

Works with iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
Great battery existence.
Bright, colorful touchscreen.
Comprehensive fitness tune capabilities and informative sleep tracking.
Free guided exercises are a laugh and smooth to follow.
Fitbit’s mobile app is the high-quality fitness accomplice.
The Bad

Can handiest save one watch face at a time at the tool?
Smartphone alert high-quality is lackluster.
Limited third-party apps in the meanwhile.
Music integration most effective works with a paid Pandora account or nearby documents.
SpO2 screen integration is still a mystery.
No rep counting features.
The Ugly

Some of the good Ionic functions, like Dynamic workouts and a full Fitbit Coach, enjoy, weren’t prepared for us to check.

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