Week in wearable tech: Fitbit Versa lands and Google's Wear-ing a new look

All the shenanigans that went down
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Well, that sure was a week that happened. While our minds have been turning to Baselworld, some huge stories have broken in the last few days.

But before we move onto the big talking points of the week, be sure to bookmark a few other articles from the week - like Conor's adventure into the weird world of VR-themed stock photography. Meanwhile Husain set out to learn whether VR could make him a regular Picasso, and we also spent some time living with the Modius headset to see if we could lose weight by... sitting on the couch.

Also be sure to check out our post-mortem on fashion tech startups Ringly and Wisewear.

With that, it's onto the big stories of the week.

The OS formerly known as Android Wear

Week in wearable tech: Fitbit Versa lands and Google's Wear-ing a new look

This week Google announced that it's rebranding Android Wear to Wear OS, a name-change to reflect the large proportion of iPhone users wearing Google's smartwatches. It's a change that makes plenty of sense, though we're disappointed that this won't come with any new features - at least not yet.

We spoke to Android Wear head of product Dennis Troper, who spilled a few things we can expect in the coming months. The upshot is that Google wants to roll out more frequent updates at a more regular cadence, rather than keep us waiting for large annual (or even longer, as has been the case) installments. For months we've been arguing that Android Wear is lagging behind its competitors, and it's largely the software that's wanting. Part of the problem is the chip, as Qualcomm still hasn't iterated on the Snapdragon Wear 2100, despite teasing last year that something was on the way.

That's been holding Wear back, but there are improvements Google can make too. Hopefully we'll learn a lot more at I/O in a few weeks, but Troper said that the Wear team have big plans around health and notifications. And who knows, maybe we'll get that Pixel Watch after all.

Fitbit Versa touches down, we touch it

Week in wearable tech: Fitbit Versa lands and Google's Wear-ing a new look

Fitbit's new smartwatch is finally official - meet the Fitbit Versa. If you've been following the story for the past couple of weeks, you'll already know a lot about Fitbit's new watch, but not everything leaked out beforehand. The new watch runs the latest version of Fitbit's smartwatch software, while also sharing the same relative SpO2 sensor as the Ionic. It doesn't have built-in GPS but it does have a nicer design than the Ionic - and it's $100 cheaper.

Hands on: Fitbit Versa review

One headline new feature that comes with Fitbit OS 2.0 (and will therefore come to the Ionic too) is female health tracking, which will help track women's menstrual cycle. While I personally won't be able to appreciate its value, I'm interested to see if it can have the stickiness that Fitbit's gunning for with these wellness features, which should eventually include sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation tracking too. These are the things that will keep Fitbit standing alone from the competition.

It's all kicking off at SXSW

Week in wearable tech: Fitbit Versa lands and Google's Wear-ing a new look

We just got back from Austin's SXSW, and this year's was an interesting mix. However, Bose's AR smartglasses arguably stole the headlines, at least in the tech world. The glasses created quite a buzz when Bose announced them ahead of SXSW, and Bose let us take them out into the wild to see how audio-based AR actually works.

From SXSW: Immersing ourselves in Ready Player One on the Vive

It's created an augmented reality platform for the ears, not the eyes, allowing you to get information about the world around you by simply looking at things. The sound quality really blew us away, which should be little surprise from such a well-established audio brand, but especially so when the sound is being directed into your ears through tiny speakers; no headphones, and no bone conduction here.

There's a big question mark over whether these glasses will manifest into a consumer product, but Bose is more interested in taking its platform to hardware makers to build into other products.

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Hugh Langley


Now at Business Insider, Hugh originally joined Wareable from TechRadar where he’d been writing news, features, reviews and just about everything else you can think of for three years.

Hugh is now a correspondent at Business Insider.

Prior to Wareable, Hugh freelanced while studying, writing about bad indie bands and slightly better movies. He found his way into tech journalism at the beginning of the wearables boom, when everyone was talking about Google Glass and the Oculus Rift was merely a Kickstarter campaign - and has been fascinated ever since.

He’s particularly interested in VR and any fitness tech that will help him (eventually) get back into shape. Hugh has also written for T3, Wired, Total Film, Little White Lies and China Daily.

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