Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

New Fitbits Use Bluetooth to Sync Directly to Your iPhone

Fitbit, the tiny device that clips onto clothing and helps users monitor their activity levels and sleep patterns, is undeniably popular as far as activity-tracking gadgets go. But over the past year, products like the Nike+ FuelBand, the (now-paused) Jawbone UP and even the BodyMedia Fit Link Armband have elbowed their way into the space — and they sync with smartphones, too.

FitBit One

Fitbit is now joining that fitness club.

The new Fitbit Zip and Fitbit One both have Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities to let users send their stats directly to iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and new iPad via the Fitbit’s updated mobile app. There’s an Android app, too, but my understanding is that this app is supplementary, and won’t let users update their stats on the go.

The Zip is positioned as a kind of baby Fitbit, priced at $59.95 and aimed at more casual users. It’s about the size of a quarter, according to the company, and while it’s pocket-friendly, it also has a clip so you can attach it directly onto clothing (I’d probably still lose it). It has an easy tap interface so you can see stats directly on the display, and it is water-resistant — which means sweat-resistant.

The Fitbit One packs more features. It includes a sleep tracker and an alarm clock, which you can set from either a mobile device or Fitbit’s online dashboard and vibrates to wake the wearer. It shows a clock on its improved display, and sends motivational messages to the wearer. Like other Fitbits, it is splash-and-sweat proof.

The Fitbit Zip is on sale now. The One hits the market later this fall, and costs $99.95. This is less than the $150 price tag of the Nike+ FuelBand and BodyMedia’s armband, and in line with the price of Fitbit’s predecessor product, the Ultra.

Fitbit is killing off the Ultra, which it launched in October of last year; that product included a digital clock, a stopwatch and an altimeter that measures elevation gain. That’s around the time the company launched the Fitbit iPhone app, too.

FitBit Zip

“Anecdotally, we know that a lot of our users want to be able to use these devices completely on the go and not be tied to a computer, so these two new devices have Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity which we think is emerging as the key technology for a connected lifestyle,” a Fitbit representative said in a statement.

It’s a wild race out there in the activity-tracking space. While FitBit claims its average user takes 43 percent more steps throughout the day and loses an average of 13 pounds with Fitbit usage, the verdict is still out on which kind of fitness and activity devices actually work best for consumers — whether it’s those with pedometer or accelerometers (which, by the way, the iPod has, as well), ones that track sleep patterns, those with skin sensors that measure body heat, good ol’ heart-rate monitoring devices, or some combination of all of the above.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald