2022 will be an important year for Wear OS. Rumor has it that Google is going to make its own Pixel Watch (again). Older Wear OS 2 watches are expected to finally make the switch to Wear OS 3. Samsung has promised that Google Assistant will will be coming to its Galaxy Watch 4 in the coming months. But there’s something particularly missing from this Wear OS lineup: Fitbit.
Since Google and Samsung first announced their partnership at last year’s Google I/O, Fitbit CEO James Park has not held back. He has said several times that a premium Fitbit smartwatch with Wear OS was in the works. This year Wear OS 3 will debut on a larger scale. It would have been great timing to unveil a Wear OS Fitbit. However, a 9to5Google report notes that while code discovered in the Fitbit app points to several new products, none will use Wear OS.
Instead, it looks like Fitbit is planning a Sense 2, a Versa 4, and a Fitbit Luxe 2. The code allegedly refers to a “software bridge” that shares data between the device and the phone via Bluetooth. According to the report, Wear OS uses a different method of sharing data between your phone and watch — meaning Wear OS watch probably wouldn’t need that so-called bridge. Two of the rumored devices share the same square screen resolution as the Versa 3 and Sense. The other suits the Luxe. That indicates updating existing product lines rather than creating something new. If true, all of this strongly suggests that we’re not likely to see a Wear OS 3 Fitbit anytime soon.
Of course this is all not official. Things can change drastically between when a product is tested and when it actually hits the shelves. It’s just disappointing to see — and it’s not in Fitbit’s best interest to reuse the same formula.
In 2014, Fitbit was a leading manufacturer of wearables, with nearly 40 percent of the market. According to statistic, Fitbit’s market share had shrunk to a meager 2.9 percent by 2020. Every year, Fitbit’s piece of the pie has gotten smaller and smaller and smaller. There’s not one factor that has led Fitbit here, but if I had to pick one, it would be that Fitbit products have gotten a little stale.
In my reviews, I often joke that Fitbit doesn’t like to fix what isn’t broken. You can check out the evolution of its popular Charge fitness trackers to see that in action. If you lined up the Charge 2, 3 and 4, I guarantee most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Likewise, when it became clear that the original Versa smartwatch was popular, Fitbit started pumping out Versas left and right. Again, if you lined up the Versa, Versa 2, Versa Lite Edition, and Versa 3, you’d be hard-pressed to say what was different about each. I’ve watched all four and even I should watch again.
That’s why it was a breath of fresh air in 2020 when Fitbit announced the launch of a fall product. The Fitbit Sense introduced FDA-approved EKGs and added an electrodermal activity sensor — something no other wearable company had done before. Google Assistant has been added to the Sense and Versa 3. The company has also upgraded its Pure Pulse 2.0 heart rate tracking technology, and meaningful updates would be everywhere. That energy continued into 2021, when Fitbit made its first major updates in years to the Charge range and introduced the fashionable Luxe.
But unless Fitbit has a new sensor it’s been hiding or finally figuring out how to add LTE to its trackers, it’s hard to get excited about a Sense 2, Versa 4, and Luxe 2. There are so many more affordable Fitbit alternatives out there these days. – and many of them are quite good.
However, a Fitbit Wear OS smartwatch would give a much-needed boost to the Wear OS ecosystem.
At the moment, Wear OS watches are mainly Fossil Group watches. They are fine. Samsung is here too, with the Galaxy Watch 4, and there are a few luxury brands for absurd prices. Fossil and luxury smartwatches prioritize aesthetics. Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 is actually great, but isn’t good for non-Samsung phone owners either.
It would have been a good time for Fitbit to jump in like the Kool-Aid guy to offer a true cross-platform Wear OS 3 watch. Right now the only option for that is Mobvoi’s TicWatch 3 lineup – and let’s be real. You’ve probably never heard of Mobvoi, while Fitbit is a household name.
Plus, you can’t ignore Fitbit’s extensive health data experience. It also has several advanced health features that could ostensibly take over from the Apple Watch. Earlier this week, the company announced it had asked the FDA to clear its monitoring of passive atrial fibrillation. It was the first to implement SpO2 sensors in 2017, and it has been hard at work investigating sleep apnea. Rolling all these things into a Wear OS 3 watch would be something to be really excited about.
A Fitbit Wear OS watch will arrive one day. Hopefully. And as long as the bed doesn’t rot as hard as the OnePlus Watch, it’ll be great for all the reasons mentioned. The rumored Pixel Watch will presumably have some sort of Fitbit integration, but we all know that’s not the same thing.