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Fitbit Ionic smartwatch expected to ship in October

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After a long wait, Fitbit is now officially in the smartwatch race.

Fitbit on Monday announced its first smartwatch model, Ionic, a much-anticipated move by the slumping wearable giant as competitors such as Apple have cornered the smartwatch market in the past year. Fitbit’s Ionic smartwatch will include GPS tracking, water resistance and most notably a new operating system called Fitbit OS, which allows third-party apps in its device.

Ionic is set to be on sale by October, on track with market analysts’ predictions of a holiday sale. The smartwatch is currently available for pre-sale at $299, $30 more than an Apple Watch.

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“With Ionic, we will deliver what consumers have not yet seen in a smartwatch–a health and fitness first platform that combines the power of personalization and deeper insights with our most advanced technology to date, unlocking opportunities for unprecedented health tracking capabilities in the future,” said Fitbit CEO James Park in a press release.

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In design, Ionic shares many similarities with Fitbit Blaze, the latest product in Fitbit’s current lineup. Much like the Blaze, a hybrid between a smartwatch and fitness tracker, Ionic offers a similar color touchscreen and notification support. Ionic will also include fitness and sleeping trackers and exercise assistants available on the Blaze.

With its new Fitbit OS, Ionic is able to support apps from the likes of Pandora and Starbucks. With 2.5 gigabytes of storage, Ionic will be able to hold more than 300 songs via Pandora. Ionic will also be able to display notifications from popular apps such as Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, Slack and Snapchat.

Ionic will also support Fitbit Pay, the company’s new mobile payment system. Fitbit says it will support most major debit and credit card companies on its OS “over the coming months.”

Ionic is considered to be Fitbit’s best bet to regain its footing as the premier wearable company. Fitbit has fallen to third in global wearables sales behind Apple and Xiaomi, as the former cornered the high-end demand with Apple Watch and the latter built a reputation as the inexpensive alternative.

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In its latest earnings release earlier this month, Fitbit reported $353.3 million from selling 3.4 million devices in its last quarter, a steep decline from a year ago when it reported $586.5 million from selling 5.7 million devices.

On Monday, Apple reportedly scheduled its next product launch event for September 12 and is expected to unveil its next Apple Watch iteration. The next Apple Watch is rumored to have an LTE data connection, which allows users to receive notifications and make phone calls without needing an iPhone nearby.

Fitbit saw its share price rise by more than 5 percent on Monday after its Ionic announcement.

Photo: Fitbit unveiled its first smartwatch, Ionic, on Monday. (Courtesy Fitbit)

Tags: Apple Watch, Fitbit, health, Ionic, smartwatch, tracking

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