Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit’s OS 4.1 brings a slew of upgrades & new features

It’s business as usual at Fitbit despite the upcoming Google acquisition. The company has started rolling out version 4.1 of its smartwatch operating system. The release brings a “Smart wake” function, improvements to battery life, a better always-on display mode for Versa 2 and more.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

Some upgrades will be available to users of Fitbit Ionic and earlier versions of Versa, as well as Versa 2. One of these is a “Smart wake” function. It’s nothing we’ve not seen before, but its good the feature has finally made its way to Fitbits. Essentially, the device on your wrist figures out the right time in the sleep cycle to wake you via a subtle vibration (during light or REM within a 30 minute window prior to your pre-set alarm). This makes getting out of bed in the morning less of a hassle.

Another sleep upgrade is that the daily Sleep Score can now be seen on the watch itself. Previously, users were only able to find the metric in the smartphone app.

Sleep aside, version 4.1 (Firmware number: 70.7.14) slaps on an agenda app. As its name implies, this can be used for managing your daily schedule on the go. There’s also a new clock face switcher that can store up to 5 clock faces directly on your smartwatch. This is a nice addition that many have requested.

Improvements to the battery life feature allow disabling of certain features so that the Fitbit lasts longer. This automatically kicks in when the battery is close to dying.

Finally, the design of the Exercise app and the way you start a workout has changed. Opening up Exercise, you see a vertical list of workouts. The pictures of people working out is gone, just the name in orange lettering is left. The number of exercises that can be tracked from the wrist has been bumped up to 20. You still have 7 favourites, but can start others by clicking on the “more” button.

Some improvements are reserved only for owners of Versa 2. One of these is a better always-on display mode with faster transitions and full health and fitness stats. A number of clock-faces now support always-on mode and the turn your wrist function shows your primary clock face.

Another Versa 2 upgrade is an advanced heart rate algorithm which uses machine learning to recognize the unique signature characteristics of a person’s heart rate. The company says this will lead to higher accuracy overall.

“Staying motivated to maintain your health and fitness routine is really hard around the holidays. We’re focused on making it more achievable through a combination of affordable devices, engaging software and our Premium membership to help you stay on track,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit.

“The new FitbitOS update and added Premium features give users even more support with innovative smartwatch tools, fresh workouts, new programs and more, setting users up for success going into the new year.”

Fitbit OS 4.1 improves accuracy of heart rate algorithm and more Fitbit OS 4.1 improves accuracy of heart rate algorithm and more Fitbit OS 4.1 improves accuracy of heart rate algorithm and more

Fitbit is also continuing to roll out new content and tools to entice people to subscribe to its Premium membership offering. This includes a personal wellness report which consists of activity, sleep, heart rate and weight trend data for the previous 30 days or past year. The report has been developed in consultation with leading medical professionals from institutions like University of California, Los Angeles and University of California, San Francisco. There’s also an expanded library of workouts and new motivational tools.

FitbitOS 4.1 started making its rounds yesterday. This is a progressive rollout so may take a few days to reach everyone. An update banner in the app will inform you when it’s available in your region. A new version of the smartphone app (4.1) was released alongside the firmware.

Early reviews on the update are generally positive, although some users have reported a reset of the device is needed after the installation. On Versa 2 this is done by holding the left button and bottom right button for 10 seconds.

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Ivan Jovin

Ivan has been a tech journalist for over 7 years now, covering all kinds of technology issues. He is the guy who gets to dive deep into the latest wearable tech news.

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