Fitness-focused Fitbit is working on a new wearable. Following the lukewarm reception of the Blaze 2, the firm’s first smartwatch, it has reportedly gone back to the drawing board. Rumors suggest Fitbit’s next smartwatch will pack high-end sensors, revamped software, and apps that do more than tracking your sleep and workouts.
Details are a little hard to come by, but here is everything we know so far about Fitbit’s 2017 smartwatch.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Fitbit teased plans for a stand-alone Fitbit App Store. Speaking in an interview with Wearable.com, Fitbit CEO James Park said he wanted to launch a dedicated store “as soon as possible,” and that building one would be helpful for employers and health care companies that use Fitbit’s trackers for corporate wellness programs.
However, the latest rumors now suggest the device could launch without an app store. A report from Bloomberg indicates the company, which acquired smartwatch marker Pebble last year, is having some trouble finishing development of digital marketplace in time for the product’s release. The watch’s launch is still “months away,” according to the article.
Pebble’s app store, at its peak, had around 14,000 third-party apps.
Fitbit responded to Bloomberg with a statement, saying development is “on track,” and that the product is “well positioned to succeed.” The company added that “any claims that the developer program is struggling is false.”
Still, Fitbit reportedly had to delay the launch of its first smartwatch once already — the device was supposed to hit shelves in the spring, but is now slated for the fall, the article says. Information provided to Bloomberg from an anonymous source familiar with the project unfortunately doesn’t make the situation look any less dire:
“This thing is designed to compete with the Apple Watch 2, but by the time it comes out, there will be the Apple Watch 3,” the individual commented.
In other news, Fitbit’s next smartwatch will be able to store and play music from Pandora, according to Yahoo Finance. Bloomberg’s findings corroborate this claim, but also add that Pandora was not the wearable maker’s first choice. Instead Spotify was the hopeful, but when that partnership failed to materialize, Fitbit backpedaled to Pandora — a service that boasts significantly fewer active users.
Meanwhile, Fitbit’s recent acquisitions may shed light on some of the upcoming smartwatches other features. In May 2016, the company bought Coin, a pioneer in near-field communication (NFC) payment tech. Pebble joined the company in December, and Vector in January.
If the rumors are true, Fitbit’s next smartwatch will look familiar.
Yahoo Finance, which got its hands on a presentation deck shown to retail partners like Best Buy and Target, describes the aluminum, “waterproof” smartwatch as bearing a striking resemblance to last year’s Blaze. That is not a good thing, apparently — one source described it as “very retro-looking,” and several Fitbit employees who saw the design reportedly complained about it.
But the new smartwatch could be poised to address one of the Blaze’s biggest shortcomings: Lack of GPS. Fitbit’s next smartwatch, like the Apple Watch Series 2, will reportedly track your jogging, walking, and cycling routes on a map for posterity.
GPS is the tip of the iceberg. Fitbit’s new smartwatch is said to boast a color display with 1,000 nits of brightness, comparable to the Apple Watch Series 2. It will reportedly have a heart-rate monitoring chip, in addition, and support for Apple Watch-style contactless payments.
And it won’t have to charge very often. According to Yahoo Finance, Fitbit’s next smartwatch will last about four days.
Fitbit’s apparently struggling to deliver a working smartwatch. According to Yahoo Finance, company engineers ran into problems making the smartwatch fully waterproof and the GPS functional. In one of the final prototypes, the GPS didn’t work because “the antennae wasn’t
in the right place,” a source told the publication. “[The team] had to go back to the drawing board to redesign the product so the GPS got a strong signal.”
Those and other production woes have forced Fitbit to push back the smartwatch’s release timeframe. It’s now expected to launch in the fall of 2017.
Fitbit’s new smartwatch could launch alongside another new product: Bluetooth headphones. According to Yahoo Finance, Fitbit’s first earbuds will hang around the neck and come in two colors, blue and gray.
Fitbit’s next smartwatch won’t be cheap. According to Yahoo Finance, an entry-level model with swappable bands will start at $300, the same price as the Apple Watch Series 1.
Its launch date remains a mystery — it’s unclear just when Fitbit will decide to take the wraps off its new flagship smartwatch.
For Fitbit’s sake, here is hoping its sooner. The San Francisco-based company recently cut six percent of its workforce and its fourth-quarter revenue dove 19 percent.