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Fitbit unveils Versa smartwatch and female health tracking

David Murphy

Fitbit has unveiled its latest smartwatch, the Fitbit Versa, and it looks a lot like an Apple Watch. It offers advanced health and fitness features, including 24/7 heart rate tracking, onscreen workouts, and automatic sleep stages tracking. It can display app, call, calendar, and text notifications from the user’s smartphone, and Android users will soon be able send quick pre-populated or customizable replies to text messages and messenger apps.

Fitbit has also announced new female health tracking features 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 FitbitIonic users, and to Fitbit app users, starting in the spring.

Users who identify themselves as female can log their menstrual cycle data, and record symptoms like headaches, acne and cramps. They can also see dynamic cycle predictions for where they are in their cycle and when to expect their period using Fitbit's new proprietary cycle algorithm that gets smarter and more accurate as the user logs their period.

"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."

The Versa can store more than 300 songs and is compatible with Bluetooth headphones. The Fitbit Versa special edition also offers Fitbit Pay for contactless mobile payments. And it boasts more than four days battery life. Users can also add more than 550 apps and clock faces to the device, including Starbucks, Strava, Surfline, United Airlines, AccuWeather, and Yelp. The device is available for presale now priced at $199.95, with global retail availability next month, in black with a black aluminium case, gray with a silver aluminium case, or peach with a rose gold aluminium case

"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.”

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 health and fitness data. Users can access 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 the device itself.  They can also access on-screen personal workouts from Fitbit Coach, with more than exercise modes, connected GPS, swim tracking with water resistance up to 50 meters, plus automatic activity and exercise tracking.

Fitbit Labs is also introducing a New Parent app to help parents more easily stay on top of their baby's schedule, enabling them to log their infant's feeds, diaper/nappy changes and sleep, plus their own mood, all from their wrist.