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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.
Xiaomi managed to impress everybody with its low-cost $30 Mi Band 4 that easily kept up with much costlier products from Fitbit, Garmin, and Co. (as long as you're not a swimmer, that is). Exactly a year after its introduction, the company has released a follow-up in the form of the Mi Band 5, packing a slightly bigger screen, a much-improved charger, more tracking capabilities, and a ton of new animated watchfaces.
In time for the holiday season, Fitbit is updating a whole bunch of software and services in the hopes of getting everyone excited and resolved for a healthier 2020 — just as it hopes Google ownership will improve its stance in the fitness tech marketplace. Fitbit OS 4.1 will be rolling out some features originally exclusive to the Versa 2 to other smartwatches while Fitbit Premium will be adopting more special routines to inspire some better habits.
In the world of activity trackers, nothing comes close to the Mi Band's value. Cheaper than any Garmin or Fitbit tracker, even the most basic vivofit4 and Inspire, but still packing enough functionality, it also benefits from Xiaomi's name recognition and is considered a serious choice, not a cheap knock-off no-name tracker.
The most recent Mi Band 4 pushes the value-for-money envelop even further thanks to a colored AMOLED screen, swim tracking, and music controls, which get added on top of the previous generation's all-day activity, sleep, and heart rate tracking. Overall, the package is very attractive, but cracks are inevitably hiding below the surface, especially if you like spending your time in a pool.
When it was announced at CES 2018, Skagen's Falster watch was one of the prettiest and most minimalist Wear OS watches to date. In my review of it, I liked the design but criticized some hardware decisions, like the lack of NFC, GPS, and heart rate monitoring. All three features have been added to the new Falster 2, which has just been announced.
An update to Google Fit began rolling out to both phones and Android Wear this week. In terms of changes, watches took the lead on this release with a short list of fairly significant additions, including audio alerts during runs, updates to the workout mode, a new screen for workout history, and even automatic heart rate tracking for some recent models. While phones weren't left out entirely, the only notable addition is a new app shortcut for handsets running Nougat and above.
Smartwatches don't seem to be gaining the cultural cachet that Google was hoping they would, but cheaper and more basic fitness monitors continue to do well even among the non-techy crowd. Just ask Fitbit, which is apparently flush enough to buy Pebble lock, stock, and barrel. The company's latest minimalist fitness tracker is the Alta HR, announced today and heading to retailers in April for $149.95. The Alta HR is an upgraded version of the current Alta, which adds a full-time heart rate sensor to the basic design.
The Samsung Gear Live launched with a built-in heart rate monitor, but unfortunately, it could only take measurements one at a time. There was no way to monitor a wearer's heart rate continuously, such as during a workout. Now developer Portable Pixels has hit Google Play with an Android app that makes this functionality possible, one that goes by the rather straightforward name of "Heart Rate Training."
The developer's previous creations skew more towards the amusing side, but that doesn't limit the capability of this app. We've tested it, and it works.
Users don't set things up from their watches. Instead, everything must be preset on a smartphone beforehand, but then owners are free to pocket their phone and start monitoring from their Android Wear device.