Google set out to acquire fitness company Fitbit in November of last year, but the deal hasn't gone through all the required regulatory approvals yet. There have been concerns that the acquisition could lead to reduced competition and Google extending its apparatus of data-collecting for targeted advertisements, and now advocacy groups around the world are urging governments to closely investigate the deal.
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For many people, Fitbit is synonymous with fitness trackers, but the company has faced new challenges from smartwatches in recent years. The Fitbit Charge 4 signifies a change, even if it doesn't look too different from its predecessor. The tracker packs everything you could want from a fitness tracker, and you get basic smartwatch capabilities like notification management, Spotify controls, NFC payments, alarms, and more. However, its $150 price tag may make it a tough sell when a smartwatch like Fitbit's own Versa 2 often goes on sale for the same price.
You would think that smartwatch shipments fell sharply this year due to many people being confined to their homes during lockdown orders, but the market is alive and well with a 12% growth compared to last year's first quarter, according to Canalys. However, the news isn't great for every player: Apple's and Fitbit's share annual growth turned negative while Huawei, Samsung, and Garmin are the winners of Q1 2020.
Fitbit offers some of the most popular fitness trackers, and many people use the brand name to describe any health band. With that recognition, four iterations of the Charge on the market, and some ventures into the smartwatch space with the Versa and the Ionic, you should think that the company already got millions of devices into customers' hands. The Play Store listing seems to confirm as much — the Fitbit app has just reached 50 million installs over the weekend.
Google has been making a big deal about its Assistant for a long time now, going so far as to call it "your own personal Google." It's made it onto phones, Chromebooks, and smart speakers, but it's never been available on a third-party smartwatch — until now! According to code found in the latest version of the Fitbit Android app, the company is working on adding integration with the Google Assistant.
Wearables capture a whole lot of data about us, far beyond heart rate graphs and activity estimates. Fitbit (soon to be owned by Google) thinks it might be able to use some of that data to help with the current global pandemic to build an algorithm that could detect COVID-19 before you notice symptoms yourself. The company is currently inviting anyone who has the disease, has previously had it, or who otherwise has flu-like symptoms to participate in its research.
You may not be thinking about Fitbit in a time of pandemic and lockdown, but the fact is that you do have the opportunity to jog around the block or hit the park — socially distanced from others, of course. In a way, the debut of the Fitbit Charge 4 comes at a perfect time for the company looking to gain some spotlight in the fitness tracker market as it continues to await the closure of Google's acquisition.
Back in 2018, Fitbit launched the Charge 3 fitness tracker, which looked a lot like its predecessor, but gained several features that essentially turned it into a smartwatch, thanks to its larger greyscale display with touch input. Even though the company is about to get absorbed by Google, it's continuing to update its lineup until the acquisition is complete. 9to5Google just published leaked information on the upcoming fitness tracker, which merely seems to be a Charge 3 with updated internals.
With everyone stuck at home, stressed, moving very little and probably eating a lot more, it's becoming crucial to take care of our bodies and minds to be able to sustain our quarantines and fight the coronavirus pandemic. Fitbit is here to help us with that thanks to a new offer on its paid service.
Fitbit's Ionic smartwatch was the brand's first product to feature an SpO2 sensor, which is used in estimating blood oxygen levels. Several other Fitbit products, namely the Versa, Versa Lite, Versa 2, and Charge 3, came with a similar sensor, but it had stayed dormant until December. After being tested with a few users, the feature appears to be rolling out more widely.