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Fitbit launches new smartwatch, and new women’s features

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Fitbit has unveiled the Versa, a metal smartwatch with up to four days of battery life, a new personalized on-device health dashboard and quick replies for Android users

Fitbit, the leading global wearables brand, has unveiled a light metal smartwatch called the Fitbit Versa. It offers a comfortable design and a new dashboard that simplifies how users access health and fitness data. Advanced health and fitness features like 24/7 heart rate tracking, onscreen workouts, and automatic sleep stages tracking meet smart features like quick replies on Android, wallet-free payments, and on-device music, with 4+ days battery life. Versa is available for pre-sale at R3 199, with global retail availability in April 2018.

Fitbit also announced new female health tracking to help women track their menstrual cycle, view holistic health data in one place, and better understand connections to their overall health. Female health tracking will be available on-device for Fitbit Versa and Fitbit Ionic users, and to all Fitbit app users starting later this year.

“As the wearables category continues to grow, Fitbit Versa fills a critical need in the market by delivering a beautifully designed, full-featured smartwatch that is easy to use at a very competitive price,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit. “Versa brings consumers the advanced health and fitness features Fitbit is known for, along with broad compatibility across mobile platforms and 4+ days battery life to provide users with a better picture of their overall health, making it stand out from any smartwatch available today.”

Fitbit provided the following information: 

Versa launches with Fitbit OS 2.0 for the company’s smartwatches, including a new personalized dashboard that provides a more simplified, intuitive and holistic view of your health and fitness data, bringing the best of our mobile app to the wrist, including:

  • Stats at a glance: See your daily and weekly health and fitness stats, historical activity, heart rate, and exercise summaries, action-oriented motivational messages, tips and tricks, and daily guidance – all on your wrist.
  • More personalized over time: Reminders, celebrations, logging, insights, sleep summaries and social challenges, with prompts to take actions based on your data, coming later in 2018.

Versa also offers all the health and fitness features Fitbit users love most with 4+ days battery life:

  • Personalized fitness guidance: Enhanced 24/7 PurePulse heart rate tracking, on-screen personal workouts from Fitbit Coach,  15+ Exercise Modes, Connected GPS, swim tracking with water resistance up to 50 meters, plus automatic activity and exercise tracking.
  • Take charge of your health and wellness: Use Sleep Stages and Insights to see how well you’re sleeping and set a restful sleep schedule, and Cardio Fitness Level to see how fit you are; move more throughout the day with Reminders to Move. A relative SpO2 sensor opens the potential to track important health indicators in the future, such as sleep apnea.
  • Read more about Versa here.

Optimize your health, fitness and family planning with female health tracking 

Fitbit is also introducing female health tracking to help women understand how their menstrual cycle connects to their overall health. According to a recent Fitbit survey, 80% of women did not know how many phases are in a menstrual cycle and more than 70% were unable to correctly identify the average length of a cycle, demonstrating a lack of awareness about women’s health. Created for all adult Fitbit app users who identify themselves as female in the Fitbit app, the feature lets you:

  • Stay on top of your cycle: Easily log your menstrual cycle data, and record symptoms like headaches, acne and cramps; helps you be more informed about your health and life planning, and, as needed, can help you show your doctor specific details for more personalized care.
  • Know what’s ahead: See dynamic cycle predictions for where you are in your cycle and when to expect your period using Fitbit’s new proprietary cycle algorithm that gets smarter and more accurate as you log your period; see where you are in your cycle at-a-glance on your wrist.
  • All of your data in one place: View holistic data in one place to reveal connections between your cycle and  other stats in the Fitbit app, such as activity, sleep and weight trends to better manage your activity and sleep needs during certain times of the month.
  • Period 101: Learn more about the menstrual cycle, ovulation, fertility and common misconceptions with educational content on the Fitbit blog through the Fitbit app.
  • Connect with others: Join other women through Groups in the Community tab of the Fitbit app for support around key topics like periods, birth control, trying to conceive, pregnancy, and perimenopause and menopause.
  • Personalized insights and guidance: In the future, as the database of female health metrics grows this data may help enable Fitbit to deliver even more insights, such as how your cycle impacts your activity, sleep, weight and nutrition, and potentially how these things can affect your cycle.
  • Read more about female health tracking here.

“Female health tracking will empower women with a greater understanding of their menstrual cycles in conjunction with their physical and mental health, as they start to recognize what are normal trends over time versus what could be an issue to share with their doctor,” said Dr. Katharine White, MD MPH, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University School of Medicine and Fitbit Advisor. “The nuances of the menstrual cycle have not been as widely studied across populations as have other areas in healthcare. This exciting development by Fitbit could help potentially create one of the largest databases of menstrual health metrics in the world, providing healthcare and research professionals with an unprecedented ability to study menstrual cycles and women’s health with real world data.”

Lightweight and modern design for everyday life

Our lightest, most approachable watch yet, Versa is comfortable, durable and versatile enough for all-day and night wear. It features an ultra-thin, anodized aluminum case and is slightly tapered and angled in its design to fit small or large wrists. The rounded square silhouette display features a bright, colorful touchscreen and sharp graphics up to 1,000 nits, providing the ideal format to see all of your data on your wrist.

Versa offers a variety of stylish accessories so you can change your look based on your outfit or activity:

    • Classic accessories: Featuring new stain-resistant materials, these sleek, swim-ready bands are available in peach, gray, black, periwinkle and white.
    • Horween leather accessories: Using renowned and respected tannery Horween Leather, these hand-crafted bands offer a cool, casual look in cognac brown, midnight blue, lavender, and saddle with artisan-inspired tan stitching.
    • Stainless steel accessories: The stainless steel links and metal mesh bands give a polished look to elevate your style. Stainless steel links are available in black, silver or tapered silver; metal mesh bands are available in black or silver.
    • Fitbit Versa Special Edition: Offering two looks in one with exclusive woven bands inspired by athleisure trends in lavender with a rose gold aluminum case or charcoal with a graphite aluminum case, as well as a black Classic accessory band in box.

Essential smart features that help you simplify your life

Versa offers a range of smart features to help you manage your day and quickly get the information you need most:

  • Notifications and quick replies: View app, call, calendar, and text notifications from your smartphone, right on your wrist. Android phone users can send quick pre-populated or customizable replies to text messages and messenger apps (coming soon).
  • Music on your device: Listen to phone-free music anywhere you go using Bluetooth headphones like Fitbit Flyer™, now including your own or curated playlists as well as Flow from Deezer   and 300+ songs from your personal music collection.
  • Pay from your wrist: Leave your wallet at home and easily pay in any store where contactless payments are accepted with Fitbit Pay, available on Fitbit Versa
  • Apps and clock faces you want: Personalize your device by choosing from a wide range of apps and clock faces in the Fitbit App Gallery, including those from Fitbit, Fitbit Labs, and popular brands like Flipboard, Hue Lights, Nest, Strava, Surfline, United Airlines, Weather and Yelp. The Fitbit App Gallery has more than 550 apps and clock faces available today, many of which developers are working to make available to Versa users soon.
  • Fitbit Labs: An R&D initiative introduced last year focused on accelerating innovation and driving behavior change, Fitbit Labs is introducing a New Parent app to help parents more easily stay on top of their baby’s schedule. By logging their infant’s feedings, diaper changes and sleep, plus their own mood, all from their wrist, new parents can better understand the connections between their sleep and mood, and, over time, help build a healthy routine for themselves and their baby.iv
  • Broad compatibility: Versa is compatible across Android, iOS and Windows devices so you can use on most smartphones.

“We are thrilled to offer Fitbit’s global smartwatch community convenient and easy access to the music they want to help them stay motivated on their fitness journey,” said Riad Hawa, Global VP of Hardware Partnerships at Deezer. “With this partnership, we’ve made it easier to have relevant and fresh music on your wrist with Flow, a personalized soundtrack, and a wide selection of playlists – all without having to bring your phone when you’re exercising.”

Versa’s new software features are part of the latest Fitbit OS update, the operating system for Fitbit smartwatches. This software update will also be available for Ionic users.

New tools for developers

For those interested in developing for the Fitbit OS, Fitbit is also launching its first online simulator. This will allow you to easily build and deploy apps and clock faces for Ionic and Versa, without requiring a device of your own. By developing for multiple devices, you can increase the visibility of your app to reach Fitbit’s global, established health and fitness community.

Pricing and availability 

Fitbit Versa is available for presale today on Fitbit.com and select online retailers tomorrow for R3,199 in black with a black aluminum case, gray with a silver aluminum case, or peach with a rose gold aluminum case; accessories range from approx. R499 – R1,499. Versa will be available in stores worldwide mid-April 2018 at Makro, Incredible Connection, Dion Wired, Dis-chem, Totalsports, Due South, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Cape Union Mart and Takealot.

With the introduction of Versa, Fitbit expands its smartwatch offerings, providing consumers with greater choice across its product lineup of trackers and watches, and positioning the company to capture greater share of the overall wearables category. According to IDC, the worldwide wearables market is set to nearly double by 2021, with watches driving this growth in the long term.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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