Fitbit rolls out latest fitness tracker with enhanced heart rate tracking, Google features

Fitbit is refreshing its most popular fitness tracker device with enhanced heart rate monitoring while tapping into Google's tech muscle for other smartwatch features.

The new Charge 6 features Fitbit's most accurate heart rate on a fitness tracker and the ability to connect to compatible gym equipment, according to TJ Varghese, director of product management, Fitbit, wrote in a blog post. 

Fitbit also integrated Google tools into its latest fitness tracker, including Google Maps and Google Wallet for contactless payments. 

Google bought Fitbit three years ago to bolster its wearable capabilities. The $2.1 billion deal was announced in November 2021 but didn't close until January 2021. Fitbit launched in 2007 and was considered a pioneer of the consumer fitness tracking market, quickly becoming the market leader. Other players have since entered the market including Apple, Garmin, and Samsung. Google launched its smartwatch, Pixel Watch, in October 2022. Amazon also launched a wearable, Amazon Halo, in 2020 but has since pulled the plug on its wearables division in a crowded, competitive market.

For the Charge 6, Fitbit tuned up its heart rate monitoring capabilities by improving its machine learning algorithm that brings over innovation from the Pixel Watch and has been optimized for a tracker, Varghese wrote. Heart rate tracking during vigorous activities—like HIIT workouts, spinning and rowing—is up to 60% more accurate than before, according to Varghese.

The Charge 6 also is compatible with Bluetooth-enabled exercise machines, provides more than 40 exercise modes for a personalized tracking experience and provides users with YouTube Music controls on-wrist to start, stop and skip songs during workouts.

The device also features accessibility features like Zoom + Magnification. With just a couple of taps anywhere on the screen, users can magnify on-screen words if it’s difficult to read small text or make the font larger, according to the company.

The Charge 6 costs $159.95 and launches on Oct. 12.

In the past year, Google has been focused on building out services for health systems and payers to help them leverage wearables data. In 2022, the tech giant rolled out a new service to help healthcare and life sciences organizations more easily use data from smartwatches and fitness trackers using its cloud and analytics know-how combined with Fitbit's consumer wearables expertise. That service, called Device Connect for Fitbit, aims to reduce some of the barriers for healthcare organizations to harness Fitbit data for patient monitoring programs or for research and population health projects, executives said.

The company also inked a partnership with Humana last year to use Fitbit devices to help Medicare Advantage plan members track data on chronic conditions and encourage healthy behaviors.