Google and Fitbit’s reentry into kids smartwatches merges activity and gaming – but comes at a high price

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The Fitbit Ace LTE represents a significant step forward in children’s fitness trackers, blending the functionality of a smartwatch with kid-friendly features and a focus on encouraging activity. Here’s a detailed overview of what this new device offers:

Design and Build

The Fitbit Ace LTE resembles the Versa 3 with a rounded square build and a vibrant, sharp touch screen in the middle. It has two buttons on the left side and features a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass over the screen for added durability, making it rugged enough to handle accidental bumps and falls common with children’s use. The device is made of stainless steel and plastic, ensuring it is both sturdy and lightweight. It comes with a bumper in the box for extra protection, and users can choose between two styles: Mild Pebble or Spicy Pebble.

Features and Functionality

Gamified Activity Tracking

The Fitbit Ace LTE gamifies the activity-tracking experience to make it engaging for children. The main watch face shows the time and total points, which aggregate the health data, surrounded by an animated “noodle.” This noodle moves around and completes as children achieve their activity goals, offering various fun animations like a “rock-on” or spooky noodle to celebrate their progress.

Mini-Games

To further encourage activity, the Fitbit Ace LTE includes built-in mini-games designed to be “interval-based gaming.” These games are not meant to distract but to promote movement. For example, one game involves casting a fishing line by moving the wrist and waiting for a haptic buzz to see what fish is caught. After playing, the device may prompt the child to walk a certain number of steps to recharge before continuing, integrating physical activity into the gameplay.

Connectivity and Subscription

The Ace LTE’s name indicates it requires a network connection, provided through the Fitbit Ace Pass, a $9.99 monthly subscription. This connectivity is crucial for features like parent-approved messaging and possibly other interactive elements that rely on real-time data transmission.

Price and Availability

At $229, the Fitbit Ace LTE is priced significantly higher than its predecessor, the Ace 3, but this price includes advanced features such as LTE connectivity and the new gamified interface. Initially available in the US, Google plans to launch the device in additional countries next year.

The Fitbit Ace LTE will also feature collectible bands that, when attached to the device, unlock additional content on the smartwatch. This feature adds an element of customization and further engagement for kids, making the activity tracker more appealing.

The Fitbit Ace LTE is designed to provide a full-fledged smartwatch experience tailored for children. With its gamified activity tracking, mini-games, and robust build, it aims to make fitness fun and engaging for kids while providing peace of mind for parents through features like messaging and tracking. Although the higher price point and subscription fee might be a consideration for some, the innovative features and potential benefits for encouraging a healthy lifestyle in children could make it a worthwhile investment.