Withings launches a fitness tracker for some reason

Withings is back with, of all things, a fitness tracker. It’s a bit of an odd addition, two months after the company re-launched, post-Nokia. The company’s first product, the Steel HR Sport, picked up where it left off with another sport-focused hybrid smartwatch. The Pulse HR, meanwhile, finds it looking back at wrist-worn fitness trackers. […]

Withings is back with, of all things, a fitness tracker. It’s a bit of an odd addition, two months after the company re-launched, post-Nokia. The company’s first product, the Steel HR Sport, picked up where it left off with another sport-focused hybrid smartwatch. The Pulse HR, meanwhile, finds it looking back at wrist-worn fitness trackers.

It’s a strange addition, really. After all, smartwatches represent a rare bright spot in the world of wearables — fitness trackers, not so much. Heck, even Fitbit has been making a major push into the watch world.

Withings, for its part, is, “Reviving the classic design of Withings Pulse, the first tracker that Withings ever launched in 2013,” according to the press material. At $130, it’s not exactly cheap, as far as these things go. Companies like Xiaomi have completely undercut much of the market with wearables running $100 less than that.

As for what it does have, the Pulse HR sports an impressive 20 hours of battery, multi-sport tracking and the titular heart-rate monitoring. The tracker is up for pre-order now and should start shipping before the holidays.

Motiv’s new fitness ring does two-factor authentication

If nothing else, Motiv’s fitness ring was a welcome reprieve from the umpteenth wrist-worn tracker. And it worked surprisingly well. The followup essentially looks the same as the original (save for some new finishes), but features a couple of new tricks, including two-factor authentication. The new hardware is available today, bringing with it the ability […]

If nothing else, Motiv’s fitness ring was a welcome reprieve from the umpteenth wrist-worn tracker. And it worked surprisingly well. The followup essentially looks the same as the original (save for some new finishes), but features a couple of new tricks, including two-factor authentication.

The new hardware is available today, bringing with it the ability to log into supported accounts using a gesture. The ring is also offering up something called WalkID in beta, which essentially measures the wearer’s gait to further verify identity. It’s not nearly as distinct as, say, a fingerprint, but the way we walk is distinct enough to further distinguish fakers.

In the near future, the product will support passwords in Google Chrome and Windows Edge, courtesy of the FIDO2 and WebAuthn standards. The company says the ring will soon add support for fingerprint and facial recognition in-app, adding another layer of protection for users.

It’s a bit of a strange addition for what is primarily a fitness device, and probably not enough in and of itself to convince users to pick up a ring — though it does further distinguish a product that, quite frankly, is probably already distinguished enough.

Withings returns from the dead with Steel HR Sport watch

Any time a smaller company is gobbled up by a larger one, you assume the worse. In the case of Nokia buying Withings, that’s more or less what happened. First Nokia launched a handful of products under its own name and ultimately dropped the French health hardware company altogether. Four months ago, one of Withings’ […]

Any time a smaller company is gobbled up by a larger one, you assume the worse. In the case of Nokia buying Withings, that’s more or less what happened. First Nokia launched a handful of products under its own name and ultimately dropped the French health hardware company altogether.

Four months ago, one of Withings’ co-founders bought the brand back from Nokia. And today, the innovative French hardware company returns with a new take on an old product. The Steel HR Sport. It’s a welcome return for what had become one of my favorite fitness trackers, prior to the brand’s untimely demise, back in May.

The Steel line’s simplicity has always been among its most appealing features. The original, launched in 2014, was one of the early hybrid smartwatches — a fairly standard analog timepiece that hides some smart features below the surface. The devices feature a small monochrome display up top for notifications and menus, along with a small secondary gauge embedded in the face that displays the percentage toward a daily fitness goal.

The Steel HR Sport brings some key updates to the line, including the ability to track 30 different activities, including yoga, volleyball, rowing, boxing, skiing and ice hockey. The watch also provides “Fitness Level Assessments,” which gauge things like VO2 max to provide a better overall picture of health. And while there’s no GPS built in, the watch uses the phone to track distance, elevation and pace and map runs.

Aside from the aesthetic appeal, battery life has always been one of the biggest upsides of these hybrid devices, and the new watch certainly fits the profile with 25 days on a charge, plus an additional 20 days in standby mode. That means that, unlike much of the competition, the watch actually can track daytime and nighttime activity, without needing to recharge.

Unlike the Steel HR, which came in both 36 and 40mm sizes, the HR Sport is only available in the latter — though that’s still quite a bit more compact than a number of smartwatches on the market. It’s available today for $200.

With Charge 3, Fitbit blurs the smartwatch line

Fitbit’s ability to start righting the ship can largely be credited with its dive into the smartwatch category. Ionic was a bit of a mess, to be sure, but the Versa has proven a bona fide hit. But while smartwatches represent a rare bright spot in the stagnant wearable space, fitness bands have always — […]

Fitbit’s ability to start righting the ship can largely be credited with its dive into the smartwatch category. Ionic was a bit of a mess, to be sure, but the Versa has proven a bona fide hit. But while smartwatches represent a rare bright spot in the stagnant wearable space, fitness bands have always — and will continue to be — Fitbit’s bread and butter.

The Charge is Fitbit’s workhorse. The unassuming tracker has sold well for the company, with the Charge 2 accounting for 15 million of the total 35 million the Charge line has sold.

Announced a full two years after its predecessor, the Charge 3 maintains the core competencies that helped make the line a success for the company, while baking in functionality that finds it further blurring the line between tracker and watch.

And why not? Fitbit is quick to cite its own survey of recent potential wearable buyers. Indeed, 42 percent told the company they wanted a tracker and 38 percent said they were edging toward a smartwatch. Size, price point and simplicity are among the primary drivers in that decision making — and the Charge 3 certainly has the Versa beat on those points.

In a meeting held prior to the official unveiling, a rep for the company said, “it truly is the Ferrari of trackers.” Not sure I can get on board with that one. Maybe it’s the Honda Civic. It’s reasonably priced at less than $200, dependable and built to last. Once again, the leaks were pretty much spot-on here. The top-level improvement here is the addition of a Gorilla Glass OLED touchscreen display that’s 40 percent larger than the Charge 2.

The design language hasn’t changed too much from its predecessor, though Fitbit’s made the band much easier to take off and put on, and added a whole bunch of different bands, including perforated sports models and woven straps, so there’s plenty of choice on that front. The battery has been improved. The claim has been bumped from a nebulous “several” days to seven.

GPS, as expected, is nowhere to be found, however. You’ll need to rely on your phone for that sort of tracking.

Fitbit’s added a bunch of what it calls “smart features” on the software side. The company introduced a bunch on the smartwatch side of things, so why the heck not, right? It might risk cannibalizing Versa sales slightly, but while the lines have been further blurred, the two still present fairly distinct categories, so far as most consumers are concerned.

The Charge 3 pops up notifications from popular apps like Facebook and Uber and lets users accept or reject calls. Those with Android will be able to choose canned message responses, as well. Fitbit’s ported a bunch of its own apps, including Alarms, Timer and Weather, with Leaderboard and Calendar coming in a future update. Third-party apps will be available, as well, though Fitbit hasn’t announced those yet.

Fitbit Pay, meanwhile, has finally made the leap onto the band, after it debuted on the smartwatch front, so you can theoretically leave the wallet at home while going for a run. That said, there’s no music control here yet, though the company says it’s working on it. Giving their buddy-buddy relationship with Deezer, I’d expect that to be arriving soon.

Fitness tracking has been improved throughout with more than 15 exercise modes. The physical button has been swapped out for an inductive one, helping make the device water-resistant up to 50 meters — and, yes, swim tracking is on board, as well. Female fitness tracking will get further updated in a future release to include ovulation. There’s also a beta version of Sleep Score, which is designed to give you more insight into your night-time habits and, I suppose, gamify sleep.

The company’s got a lot of lead time on all of this, as the device won’t be hitting store shelves until October. It will be priced at $150 for standard and $170 for a Special Edition with NFC and two bands.