Fitbit’s IFA 2016 press conference is scheduled for the end of the week, but that’s not stopping the wearable fitness tech company from unveiling its big news ahead of the competition. In addition to two new fitness trackers — the Charge 2 and the Flex 2 — Fitbit is releasing gold variants of the Alta and Blaze. It is also launching a new type of challenge in its app called “Adventures.”
The Charge 2 is a successor to the Charge HR, and it introduces Cardio Fitness Score, a passive feature that tells you how fit you are. Relax is also a new mode that offers personalized guided breathing sessions to help you keep calm. The Flex 2, on the other hand, is Fitbit’s first “swim-proof” tracker. You can take it up to 50 meters underwater, and it will also automatically begin tracking your laps, duration, and calories burned. You can read our hands-on review of the two wearables here.
The two new devices are only part of Fitbit’s announcements. The Alta and Blaze, which the company launched earlier this year, have a handful of colorful new variants and stylish bands to choose from — notably, both devices are now available in gold.
The Blaze debuted at $200, and the special edition gold variant will set you back an additional $30. You can also choose to have a slimmer band of a type typically found on women’s watches.
If you already have a Blaze and want the gold variant, you can buy the “individual gold frame and tapered, slim black or pink accessory fitness band” for $100. The Blaze is removable, meaning you can pop it out of your current band and insert into the new gold-frame.
New slim camel leather bands with a stainless steel frame cost $100 as well, but if money’s tight you can always choose between the new khaki and olive nylon bands, priced at $40.
While the Blaze was initially met with a rather chilly reception, the latest update to the software (firmware version 8.301.4) makes it more of a smartwatch than ever, and perhaps, a more attractive option for fitness wearable enthusiasts. The update allows you to receive notifiactions for third-party apps, so now you’re not restricted to call, text, and calendar alerts. You’ll feel a vibration and will see an on-screen alert from apps like “Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, Skype, Slack, Snapchat, WeChat, WhatsApp and more; plus, you have the option to customize which notifications you receive.”
The update also means that the Blaze will now be able to remind you to move every hour. “Reminders to Move” exclusively kicked off with the Alta earlier this year, but the feature is finally trickling down to other Fitbit devices. The feature is also available in the new Charge 2 and Flex 2. Based on a time frame you set up, the device will remind you to take 250 steps every hour to keep you active.
There are also five additional clock faces to choose from.
The Fitbit Alta puts more emphasis on aesthetics than anything else, and its improvements are largely cosmetic as well. The new special edition Alta offers a gold tracker with a black or pink band — that costs $150. You can also go for a gold-plated stainless steel band with the gold tracker, and that’s priced at $130. If you already have an Alta, you can buy the gold-plated stainless steel band individually for $100.
If gold’s not really your style, the company is partnering with Public School, Simply Vera Vera Wang, and Tory Burch to provide new aesthetic alternatives. The Public School bands feature bands such as the Axis Accessory Band and the WNL Print Band, which cost $295 and $40 respectively. Public School bands will only be available for pre-order in October, and you’ll be able to grab them in November at select retailers. Printed bands will arrive in 2017.
Similarly, Simply Vera Vera Wang bracelets will only be available in October, but exclusively through Kohl’s online and brick and mortar stores. Tory Burch designs will also launch in 2017.
Last but not least, Fitbit is introducing a new software feature via the Android and iOS app — Fitbit Adventures. When it was first released, there were three Yosemite trails loaded on the app; the more you walk, the more virtual landmarks and scenic photographs you unlock along the trails.
It’s a solo challenge — an option for people that did not want to compete with their friends via social Challenges.
“You can begin your first Fitbit Adventure with one of three breathtaking trails set in Yosemite National Park, including Pohono Trail, Valley Loop and Vernal Falls,” the company writes in a news release. “In order to showcase the natural beauty of one of the world’s most treasured national parks and make it completely immersive, Fitbit partnered with world-class explorer and award-winning photographer Chris Burkard.”
The Yosemite adventure offers 3 trails, and each of which have personalized daily destinations. Reaching each virtual destination isn’t as easy as it sounds — the next day’s distance is “increased slightly to inspire you to become more active over time.” You can unlock landmarks along the way, which reward you with photographs from the trail by Burkard.
The trails also feature “Treasures,” which are basically fun facts, health and fitness tips, mini challenges, and more.
In September, Fitbit released another Adventure — this time, it’s the TCS New York City Marathon route that users can enjoy. Whether you’re a resident of the Big Apple or not, Fitbit says, users “can now experience the thrill of running as they virtually step through the streets of the Big Apple. With each step logged, you can advance and virtually experience iconic landmarks like Central Park and Grand Central Station.”
Since releasing Fitbit Adventures in August, the company has seen rather significant spikes in activity, with one estimate suggesting that users took over 20 billion steps and traveled almost 10 million miles with this new feature.
Fitbit Adventures is a free update that’s currently rolling out to the Android, Windows, and iOS app. It’s compatible with all of Fitbit’s trackers. You can head over to Fitbit.com to pre-order the special gold edition Fitbit Alta and Blaze.
Updated on 09-28-2016 by Lulu Chang: Added news of 8.301.4 firmware update.