Tech

Fitbit brings Pixel Watch features to the Charge 6

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Fitbit products haven’t exactly been a focus for Google since the acquisition closed at the beginning of 2021. It’s been clear from the start that the software giant’s interest in the wearable pioneer came down to its own proprietary smartwatch ambitions. We saw that play out with last year’s Pixel Watch launch and will likely see it again during next week’s hardware event.

However, while Fitbit devices themselves haven’t been a priority for Alphabet, it can’t simply back away from the line altogether. Fitbit still has a massive userbase of dedicated fans that a single Pixel Watch can’t address. That goes double for the folks who prefer a simpler band without all of the smartwatch bells and whistles.

More than two years after the Charge 5 became Fitbit’s first post-acquisition device, Alphabet is refreshing the line. The parent company’s fingerprints are all over the press release announcing the new wearable.

“Charge 6 helps you stay on track with your goals,” the company notes, “thanks to advanced health sensors that, combined with a new machine learning algorithm, bring you our most accurate heart rate tracking on a Fitbit tracker yet.”

Tying biometric sensors to machine learning algorithms is very much a product of the Google/Fitbit marriage. Health has, of course, been the foundation of the wearables category for years now, and much of the new work we’re seeing is an effort to further refine the immense amounts of health data these devices collect. It’s not dissimilar from when Google began leaning very heavily on computational photography for the Pixel line.

In fact, the new heart rate monitoring tech is borrowed directly from the Pixel Watch. This could ultimately prove to be the prototypical pipeline, going forward. The teams build something new for the Pixel Watch that eventually makes its way onto Fitbit devices. That this arrives shortly before Google is expected to announce a new Watch surely isn’t a coincidence.

The other big addition here is the ability to connect the Charge to workout apps and equipment like those from NordicTrack, Peloton, Concept2 and Tonal, for real-time metric monitoring. And just in case you were worried that the Charge isn’t smartwatch enough, the device is getting some first-party Google software.

“For the first time, we’re bringing helpful Google tools to a tracker. Charge 6 will have Google Maps and Google Wallet, making it convenient to go from workouts to errands and everywhere in between,” Fitbit notes. “Navigate on the go using Google Maps to get turn-by-turn directions right on your wrist, or grab a post-workout snack using Google Wallet to make contactless payments.”

The Fitbit Charge 6 is up for preorder today. It will run $160 when it goes on sale later this fall.

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