So the rumours were true – Fitbit's made a wearable for kids, and it's called the Fitbit Ace. It's just not the kids smartwatch we were initially anticipating, though, and is in fact a rebadged Fitbit Alta, so kids can be just like their parents.
Put simply, the Fitbit Ace is a fitness tracker for kids, designed for children aged eight and above. Fitbit's done its own research and discovered that 85% of parents they spoke to were interested in getting a tracker for their kids. That's where the Ace comes into play.
Check out Fitbit's brand new smartwatch: Fitbit Versa review
It's keeping that tracking basic – counting steps, monitoring activity minutes and logging sleep. Kids can earn Fitbit badges, rewards and take part in challenges as incentives to keep on top of step counts and sleep time. At $99.95 it's in direct competition with the Garmin Vívofit Jr.2, which is aimed at children aged four and above.
Read on for the skinny on the Fitbit Ace.
Fitbit Ace: Design
The tracker itself will look very familiar and that's because it is essentially a Fitbit Alta with a smaller adjustable strap. It's the same screen and module minus the heart rate sensor and comes in either blue or purple band options. It's showerproof but not waterproof, so no swimming with this on. Battery life is up to five days to match the Alta in that department too.
If we're being really honest, we are bit disappointed Fitbit didn't try to do something a bit different in the looks department, especially when you compare it to Garmin and its Disney hookup. Fitbit tells us that the decision to mirror the design of one of its existing trackers was based on the Ace's target age group wanting exactly the same tracker as their parents. I can kind of get where they are coming from. But still, we were hoping for more.
Fitbit Ace: Simple setup and data privacy
As far as getting set up is concerned, the Ace does require a parent to do this, although kids can pair it to their own phone where they can receive and customise their own call notifications. Settings are plugged into the existing Fitbit app where you'll follow a pretty standard and familiar Fitbit tracker pairing and syncing process. Parents control how many users can be added or removed from a new family account mode. This is the place where they can also monitor activity and sleep tracking.
Essential reading: How to choose a gadget to keep your kids safe
Children have a profile too where they can check in on data, badges/rewards earned and see messages from other people on the family account. A word on compatibility. The Ace will work with Android and iOS smartphones, with Windows Mobile support landing later in 2018.
Now about that trying not to call it a tracker thing. Well it might have something to do with some of the negative connotations tied to the concept of kids trackers, specifically around the topic of privacy and security. This is something Fitbit has clearly been conscious of getting in place and has ensured that the Ace is 100% compliant with all child privacy laws including the Children's Online Privacy Act (COPPA).
As far as first impressions go, there isn't a lot we can say because the two Aces we were shown were not working models. What we can say is that the design is well, all Fitbit Alta. Familiar, not groundbreaking but a formula that has clearly worked for Fitbit and driven a lot of interest in its wearables over the last couple of years.
Keeping tracking features basic makes sense and pricing is in line with its closet competitors. The key is whether the Ace has the ability to keep 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 olds engaged enough to keep it on the wrist for more than a few weeks and actually care about making progress. It's a smart move from Fitbit, and while fitness trackers appear to be on the wane the Ace could help buck the trend and be a bit of a hit for the company.
Additional words by Husain Sumra