Fitbit releases OS 3.0 for smartwatches, new dev tools, highlights third-party apps

The update looks to bring new health data and features to the forefront while streamlining the overall user experience.
By Dave Muoio
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Image courtesy of Fitbit

With roughly a week to go before thousands of devices are unwrapped under the tree, Fitbit has pushed out a bevy of updates to its smartwatches that make it easier for wearers to quickly grasp their individual health performance.

Specifically, Fitbit OS 3.0 expands the Fitbit Ionic, Fitbit Ionic: adidas edition and Fitbit Versa’s dashboards to include new data on a wearer’s sleep, exercise and heart rate. Further, wearers can more quickly log their weight and water intake, as well as set and track specific calorie burn or exercise goals.

The consumer health wearable company also used this opportunity to announce a new trends analysis feature coming to the women’s health tracking feature of its app (coming in early 2019), as well as unveil new API and open-source development tools for its smartwatches. Key among these dev tools is support for original algorithms, which the company noted would permit development of health and fitness apps that aren’t reliant on the devices’ step-based tracking system.

Each of these updates will be joined by 10 new third-party health and fitness offerings that are now available or will be coming soon to the Fitbit App Gallery.

Apps that are currently available include: achu health, a clock face that provides alerts when signs of potential illness are identified; Couch to 5K, an insight and training program generator specifically built for distance races; Genius Wrist, a collection of four workout and data viewing tools; and MySwimPro, a tool that pulls real-time heart rate data and post-workout performance data to provide personalized guided swim workouts, training plans and video coaching.

Other apps coming to Fitbit’s marketplace in early 2019 are Charity Miles, FitBark, Gold’s Amp for Fitbit, Mindbody, Noonlight and TRX.

“We are partnering with some of the most popular health and fitness brands to develop apps that leverage Fitbit data to offer unique experiences and deliver more valuable and personal insights to help our users to live healthier lifestyles,” Tim Rosa, chief marketing officer at Fitbit, said in a statement.

What’s the impact

With the holiday season in full swing, now is as good a time as any for Fitbit to streamline it’s user experience and make a case for its upcoming features. The moves are also continued support for the company’s ongoing shift away from standard activity trackers and into smartwatches, which as of Q3 seems to be going very well for the wearable maker.

“Fourteen months ago, we had zero share of the smartwatch category, and today we're the number two player in the US,” Fitbit CEO James Park told investors during last month’s Q3 earnings call. “Smartwatches represented 49 percent of revenue in the quarter and demand for Versa remains solid, outselling each of the competitive offerings from Samsung, Garmin and Fossil in the US. Despite smartwatches being a more competitive segment of the wearable market, we have demonstrated that we can quickly and effectively gain market share. This underscores the power of our brand and our ability to deliver devices consumers love.”

What’s the trend

Its rising sales numbers notwithstanding, Fitbit has been fairly active in the health and wellness space as of late — the past few months saw the company’s announcement of the Fitbit Care connected health platform for plans, employers and systems (and its accompanying Fitbit Plus app). Meanwhile, Fitbit also launched a few non-smartwatch offerings during the summer like the Charge 3 with Sp02 tracking and the kid-friendly Fitbit Ace.

Apple, the smartwatch market's current leader, has also doubled down on its health efforts. In fact, the Apple Watch just saw its own major software update a few weeks back with the rollout of its much touted ECG and heart rate alerts

On the record

“We are excited to announce these software and app updates as they provide Fitbit smartwatch users with more ways to take action based on their personal data to achieve their health and fitness goals,” Jon Oakes, SVP of product at Fitbit, said in the announcement.