When my eight-year-old niece tested the Fitbit Ace last year, she wrote me a list of the things she liked and didn't like about it. Top of the dislike list was that it wasn't waterproof. She also said it was hard to turn off and take off. But she loved telling me how many steps she'd done and how she wanted to keep it on her wrist 24/7.
Almost a year after announcing the first Ace, Fitbit is ready to keep kids like my niece active again with the Ace 2, and it's clearly listened to the feedback. This time it's designed for a wider age range; the Ace 2 is meant for ages 6 and above, lowering its suitability from the 8 and above age range of the first wearable.
The second generation tracker is launching for little ones in the summer priced at $69.95, also making it cheaper than the original. I managed to squeeze the Ace 2 onto my wrist to find out what kids who want in can expect when it lands.
While Fitbit decided to ape the Alta for its first kids' fitness tracker, it's taken a slightly different approach for the Ace 2. There's definitely a more playful feel about the Ace 2, with some design changes that will make it better suited for smaller wrists.
I've already mentioned the swimproof design, which Fitbit has been gradually rolling out to all of the devices in its family. There's no swim tracking, although that's hardly surprising when you consider the price point. Another new addition is the screen bumper that adds an extra layer of protection. I can't say my niece did too much damage to the first Ace, but the bumper will no doubt come as a welcome addition for those all-action kids. This time there are colourful interchangeable silicone and printed bands to choose from. Fitbit says the colours were chosen by children.
While Fitbit has moved away from mirroring the look of its grown up trackers, the touchscreen is the same one you'll find on the new Inspire and Inspire HR trackers. That means you get bigger, bolder icons with the same gestures to navigate data screens. There's also just a solitary physical button, which is a design change that Fitbit says helps simplify the process of interacting with its devices.
There is another reason Fitbit has adopted the same screen as its adult trackers, and that's because that core module is able to slip into bands designed for Inspire trackers. The idea is that as that Ace 2 owner grows up, they might not want that cartoony band anymore. Even the more playful UI can be adjusted in the companion app to make things feel more like the grown up trackers.
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That more playful UI features icons like rocket ships, cute monsters and a plant pot to help illustrate tracking progress, and will no doubt make the Ace 2 that little more appealing.
In terms of new software features, it doesn't seem a whole lot has changed. The focus is still on doing the basics like counting steps, monitoring sleep and tracking active minutes. You're not going to find a heart rate monitor or built-in GPS here again. You can still take part in challenges with other Fitbit users in your family, get call alerts, set up reminders and there are now also new clock faces and goal celebrations. You can also expect it to be 100% compliant with all child privacy laws like its predecessor.
The Fitbit Ace 2 might not be bringing anything groundbreaking to the kids' fitness tracker game, but it will no doubt consolidate Fitbit's reputation as one of the best options out there. It's now suitable for a wider age range, has a more kid-friendly design and just feels more fun to look at. It's cheaper as well, which might persuade more parents to part with their cash.
The first Ace wasn't too far off the cost of the Alta trackers and it wasn't surprising to see the Ace's price drop pretty quickly after launch. The idea that the Ace 2 can also move to a more grown up look is also a smart move from Fitbit, and should help keep those trackers on wrists for longer.