Fitbit Ionic smart watch to launch new mobile payments service

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Once the market leader in wearables, Fitbit has recently struggled due to fierce competition and had earlier blamed a shift among consumers toward feature-rich devices and smartwatches for its revenue decline. This wasn't a secret. Misfit is releasing a new fitness tracker this summer and now Fitbit is releasing the Ionic fitness tracker which is created to cut into the Apple Watch market.

The watch also includes a relative SpO2 sensor, which allows for deeper health tracking of conditions like sleep apnea.

The Ionic also supports contactless payments, Global Positioning System tracking, on-device dynamic workouts, improved heart rate tracking, and water resistance of up to 50m. Some of the exclusives that the device will offer, are Pandora and Spotify, along with Starbucks and a few other apps that will highlight mobile payment. Ionic also has all the core features our users love from Fitbit like four-plus day battery life, automatic activity and sleep tracking, and cross-platform compatibility.

The company also updated its Aria Wi-Fi smart scale, rebranded its Fitstar training service as a new Fitbit Coach service, and launched its first set of wireless headphones, called the Fitbit Flyer.

Fitbit needs a hit product, and it's hard to say how any of these will fare against a new Apple Watch and the ubiquitous Beats headphones. Fitbit App Gallery has been launched as well to distribute apps and clock faces. The wearable also supports Fitbit Pay, so owners can make payments right from the Ionic, and mirroring notifications from Android and iOS. That means you can load credit or debit cards to the Fitbit app and then use the Ionic to pay at any store with an NFC reader, no phone required. Fitbit is building upon the Pebble platform to provide developer tools such as fast development on an open platform using JavaScript and Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). Fitbit sales in its core USA segment fell 55% last quarter, with total unit volumes down 40% year over year.

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Fitbit is teaming up with Adidas to launch a special edition of its Ionic smartwatch, but it won't be landing until next year.

The Fitbit Ionic may be a smartwatch but it's clearly designed as a fitness device, which should make it an attractive upgrade to millions of Fitbit fitness band wearers. The buds are sweat-proof and water resistant so will survive the most robust of workouts, come rain or shine.

However, Fitbit is also giving the gadget a bit of extra functionality, adding contactless payments to its list of abilities. The standard straps and sport straps are fastened with a buckle and a pin at the end of the strap that is secured into one of the remaining holes, while the leather straps also have a buckle fastening but the strap goes through a loop like a standard watch strap for a smarter look.

The Ionic is on sale for €349 and is now available only on pre-order. The headphones will go on sale in October alongside the Ionic. An audio coaching feature is coming to the Fitbit Coach service this fall, with an Ionic-specific experience in 2018.

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