Fitbit Alta essential tips and tricks

How to get the most out of your fashionable Fitbit
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The Fitbit Alta HR may have arrived on the scene, but you can still get hold of the original Alta if you don't care about the added heart rate monitor and still want that sleek wearable on your wrist.

It's still one of the best fitness trackers we've tried and packs in plenty of features to help motivate you to stay fit.

Essential reading: Which Fitbit should you buy?

And whether you've just picked up the Alta or planning to get one in the future, we've picked out some tips to get more from the Fitbit tracker. From setting alarms to changing your Fitbit's band from Classic to Luxe, we've got you covered.

Changing Fitbit bands

Fitbit Alta essential tips and tricks

Fitbit straps haven't been the easiest to wear with the clasp pinholes proving to be bothersome little things. However it's designed somewhat better on the Alta and much easier to use. Also simpler: changing the Fitbit straps.

Read this: How to actually get fit with your fitness tracker

The Classic models are what you'll get at the lower end of the price spectrum and look sporty in black, blue, plum and teal then you have the Luxe models in blush pink leather, graphite leather and a stainless steel option plus designer brands as well.

With so many options, you'll likely want to experiment right? Doing so is simple. Just flip the Alta over, press on the latch and push out to release the tracker. Slide your choice of band into the same slot and it will snap into place.

Cleaning Fitbit Alta

Fitbit's had a series of rash problems that has more or less been taken care of considering we haven't heard many issues with the newer devices, including Alta. To ensure your wrist remains rash-free, there are several ways to clean the Alta band and body - all of which were recommended by the company.

There are different ways to keep the different bands types sanitary like using cotton swabs of alcohol instead of rinsing/soaking with soap and water, the main takeaway is to keep the straps dry. That means patting it with a lint-free cloth, or leaving it out to air dry, and not using intense heat sources like a hair dryer.

As for the tracker body, good 'ol rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush can keep the charging contacts clean. The same can be done for the charging cable using light dabs from a cotton swab.

Do Fitbit Adventure challenges with Alta

Fitbit Alta essential tips and tricks

Getting bored of tracking your office treks? Doing Fitbit's new Adventure challenge may help. Announced when the Charge 2 and Flex 2 hit the scene, Adventure matches the steps you've taken with hikes around Yosemite National Park in California. There are landmarks and bits of trivia you can unlock along the way, and lucky for you, it's not time sensitive when you complete each Adventure. Rather, it's about logging in steps to get the reward of seeing 'where you've been' in each area.

It's super simple to get started since all you need is the latest Fitbit app. To update, head to the app store and download the newest version. Then go into the Challenges tab in the Fitbit app. Tap 'Start tomorrow' and every step you take the next day will be counted towards your progress.

Syncing Fitbit Alta

If you scroll down to the battery conservation section, you'll see that manually syncing will greatly help your Alta last longer. But did you know your device stores your fitness metrics so you don't have to keep syncing every night?

Specifically, data is stored up to five whole days before you need to sync your Alta (or risk losing all the info). This is useful if you don't always check your data on the phone and want to see a summary log all at once.

Change the face

Fitbit Alta essential tips and tricks

There are several clock faces to choose from - five vertical or five horizontal clock to be exact. Tap on the account tab again to find the various faces then pick whichever one you prefer.

If you wear the Alta with the display on top of your wrist, vertical is easier to read, while horizontal is better for the bottom of your wrist. Though, it's completely up to you.

Use Fitbit Alta with Amazon Echo

If you're already connected to an Amazon Echo and asking Alex for daily weather reports, you might as well ask about your Fitbit stats too. For this tip, you'll need an Echo account. Head to the Skills tab to download the Fitbit Skill then enable it by allowing all the permissions.

After that's set up, you'll have say "Alexa, ask Fitbit" each time but it's not too bad, with the final result sounding like "Alexa, ask Fitbit how many steps I've taken today."

You should be able to get verbal information on steps, taken, distance, calories, stairs climbed, battery life and much more with Alexa's help.

What Fitbit Alta's vibrations mean

Fitbit Alta essential tips and tricks

Like many (perhaps all?) fitness trackers out there, you're going to get a lot of vibrations on your wrist. Unlike the new Fitbit Flex 2, which pairs its haptics with LED lights, you can turn your wrist to see what the buzzing means on Alta. But if you don't want to keep relying on the display, here's what the the Fitbit Alta buzzes mean.

One continuous vibration - An alarm you've set is going off

Up to three vibrations with pauses in between - Your phone is ringing

Two short vibrations - Reminders to take more steps before the hour is up or the hour is already up and you've met the 250 step goal

A series of vibrations - You've met your daily activity goal

Setting hourly step reminders

Step reminders are the latest feature added that's come to the Alta first, and is now available on all the Fitbit devices except One and Zip. Rather than just standing for a bit, Alta's reminders encourage you to walk 250 steps per hour - which is just a few minutes of walking.

The minimum steps can't be changed but you can customise the default tracking that's set to 9:00 am - 6:00 pm, seven days a week.

There's two ways to change this. Open the Fitbit app and select Hourly Activity (the one with the red figure with its arms up). Then tap the settings gear in the top right corner.

Or once again in the app, go and tap on the Fitbit Alta icon twice to see "Reminders to move." From there, you can also adjust the number of hours per day and set the days of the week where you'll be reminded to reach your step goal.

For sensitive sleepers

Like with the other Fitbits, there's a way on that Alta to make sure automated sleep tracking picks up more accurate data.

Head into the advanced settings inside the app which can be found under the Account tab. Here you'll find the option to change sleep sensitivity to sensitive to improve the detection of your movements at night.

Maximise battery life

The Alta lasts a surprisingly long time - about five days according to Fitbit, but seven to eight by our testing. However there are still ways to prolong usage.

There's a maximum of eight alarms you can set, and each one you add reduces battery life by a small percentage. So less alarms, longer battery life.

Turn off Quick View at night. Quick View lets you see the clock face when you turn your wrist. It's a handy feature to have on in the day, but a pain when trying to sleep since the little screen can get really bright. When Quick View is off, double tap the screen to wake it up.

Lessen the amount of time that Alta reminds you to move - directions above on how to do this.

Turn off Always Connected on Android devices and All-Day sync on iOS so your Alta isn't constantly syncing.

Lastly, though it's a fitness tracker, Alta isn't meant for extreme outdoor conditions. Charging it in severe heat or cold may likely reduce battery life.

How we test


Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

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