Google announced the launch of the next generation of its fitness wearable, Fitbit Charge 6, equipped with new features, including a more precise heart rate tracker, built-in YouTube Music controls, GPS capabilities, new exercise modes, and accessibility of Google Maps and Google Wallet.
“This is our most accurate tracker yet. This is due to advancements in machine learning and AI,” T. J. Varghese, director of product management at Google, said during a press briefing. “This is also our first tracker now built-in with Google Helpfulness.”
First launched in Google Pixel Watch last year, the AI and machine learning-enabled heart rate capability was optimized to function in Charge 6 with a lower processor that still allowed a seven-day battery life.
The Charge 6 will let the wearer stream real-time heart rate readings to gym equipment via Bluetooth pairing. The tech giant is launching Charge 6 with partners NordicTrack, Peloton, Concept2 and Tonal to allow this capability. Wearers can also pair the Charge 6 to the Peloton app. The functionality will work with bikes, treadmills, rowers and other equipment.
To ensure users don’t upload personal data in public gyms, Google says the data will stream live to the gym equipment, rather than being stored on the equipment itself.
“We are actually using an encrypted Bluetooth channel between your device and the gym, and data is not stored on the device. It’s streaming live,” Varghese said. “We’re not using an open Bluetooth channel, like some other heart rate monitors may be doing. We’re using an encrypted channel, which is why we’re pretty selective on some of the equipment partners that we’re launching with.”
With Charge 6, wearers can also play their YouTube Music playlist directly from the tracker, and the device will come with one month of YouTube Music Premium for free.
Google Maps has also been designed for use on the tracker. Wearers set up Google Maps on their phone and can access directions from the tracker.
The tech giant also added 20 new exercise modes, including surfing, skiing, crossfit and HIIT, for a total of 40 exercise modes. Varghese said auto recognition is available for some exercises.
With the launch Google includes three new color options for the device, four new clock faces, two new accessories and new accessories for Fitbit smartwatches.
The tracker will also include an accessibility feature allowing Zoom and magnification on the screen.
Google also brought back the haptic button on the side of the tracker, which was removed with a previous iteration when they introduced touchscreen capabilities.
The Fitbit design has not changed, but the tracker is now built with 100% recycled aluminum and 100% plastic-free packaging.
The device still includes an ECG, similar to the Charge 5, and users can detect and notify themselves of high or low heart rates. Additionally, users can access heart rate variability, oxygen saturation (SpO2) and breathing rate.
Stress-management tools and mindfulness content will still be available with a Fitbit Premium membership, which is also included for free for six months for Fitbit Charge 6 buyers.
Google is also enhancing the Fitbit app with the Charge 6 release to include three new tabs: Today will help users focus on their goals. Coach will provide free and paid content, and You is where wearers can control their goals and settings.
The Charge 6 will now require wearers to use a Google account when logging in.
“Charge 6 is our most capable tracker yet. It’s an evolution from Charge 5. We really pushed the boundaries of what a tracker can do,” Varghese said.
The Charge 6 will launch at $159, and consumers can preorder the tracker on September 28. The tracker will be available on Oct. 12 in 30 countries.