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Fitbit has officially unveiled its new "Iconic" health and fitness tracker with smartwatch features that compete with the Apple Watch.

Other unique features include dynamic, on-device workouts; run detection tied to the Global Positioning System; water resistance to 50 meters and a new swim mode; improved heart rate monitoring; a blood oxygen sensor, 2.5 GB of onboard storage for music; Fitbit Pay integration; and smart notifications.

The introduction of a relative SpO2 sensor for estimating blood oxygen levels opens the potential for tracking important new indicators about health, such as sleep apnoea and atrial fibrillation. With worldwide availability kicking off next month, the Ionic is up for pre-order on Fitbit's website today for $299 and all other retailers starting tomorrow.

Together, these two features - Fitbit Pay and dedicated music support - will, according to Fitbit, will allow users to leave their smartphones at home when they go for a workout.

The main distinction in creating a real smartwatch is that the company's creating a platform for third-party apps on its new smartwatch operating system, Fitbit OS.

Fitbit Ionic comes in three colors: Silver gray, smoke gray, and burnt orange.

The Ionic smartwatch is water resistant up to 50 metres and it's also equipped with a swimming mode. It also benefits from advanced sleep features and insights which were introduced earlier this year.

Fitbit has also launched Aria 2 smart scale and Flyer wireless headphones. The Fitbit Blaze was an attempt at bridging the gap between fitness tracker and smartwatch but it was never an Apple Watch or Android Wear competitor, nor did it claim to be. "There is a $300 price point, and it's the most expensive Fitbit device to date", said Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC's wearables team.

Fitbit Coach, a paid subscription service that provides audio coaching sessions and guided health programs. Fitness enthusiasts using the device will be able to add their eligible cards to the smartwatch, and pay simply by tapping their device near a contactless terminal at more than 6.6 million merchant locations globally.

Fitbit also replaced the Fitstar app with the Fitbit Coach on the Ionic to deliver tailored workouts that offer step-by-step guides showing you what to do exactly.

Fitbit is also opening the door to becoming more multi-purpose by allowing third-party applications. "Partnering with Fitbit on its new Fitbit Pay service is another step forward in the growth of Internet of Things and shows how Visa is enabling companies across the technology industry to help us all move towards a cashless future".

The Ionic is the first device that Fitbit has designed fully in house.

Ionic also features automatic pause detection for when you take a break in the middle of a run, but since there's no always-on screen option, you'll need to flick your wrist or press a button to see your stats. While the design is bulky, I plan to live with the watch for a few more weeks, so stay tuned for my full review.


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