Week in wearable tech: Fitbit Alta HR, a new Garmin and Android Wear wins

What you need to know about the week's biggest stories
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

If you're a new 2017 fitness tracker, ready or not, here we come. You can't hide, we're gonna f-i-n-d you.

This week the Fitbit Alta HR, which we showed you last week in an exclusive leaked pic, is now official. The Alta HR is an impressive upgrade considering the form factor but it's not alone.

That's because we've just uncovered a whole series of pictures of the Garmin Vivosmart 3, the successor to the Vivosmart HR+, which bagged our Fitness Tracker of the Year Award in 2016. It's all happening. Even Jawbone is signalling that there's life for it yet with customer support due to come back online soon.

Week in wearable tech: Fitbit Alta HR, a new Garmin and Android Wear wins

Our executive editor James Stables got some hands on time with the Alta HR this week. He gushed that getting a heart rate monitor into a tracker that's barely distinguishable from the original, stylish Alta is one of Fitbit's greatest technological achievements.

James probably needs to calm down but still, it is certainly up there with the task of making the Fitbit Flex 2 waterproof. Just because the Alta is adding heart rate to this latest model, it doesn't mean this is now a device to rival the Charge 2, say. There's no workout modes, ConnectedGPS or VO2 Max.

This is still very much a lifestyle tracker so that's why it's particularly odd that the Relax breathing exercises also don't make the cut. Sleep tracking is getting an overhaul, though, with tips based on your data, also coming to the Blaze and Surge.

As for that new Garmin, we don't know a great deal about it yet aside from a look at the textured strap, watch style clasp and resting heart rate on the display. Look out for more details in the coming weeks as we keep an eye on this one.

The new Vivosmart 3 is part of Garmin's big wearable push lately and the tactic of being prolific and launching a series of similarly featured watches and trackers is really paying off. Fitbit is still No.1 but across Garmin's whole wearable tech range, its revenue went up 10% at the end of last year. Don't count it out.

More designers want Wear

Week in wearable tech: Fitbit Alta HR, a new Garmin and Android Wear wins

Everyone wants a piece of Android Wear all of a sudden as Movado Group announced this week that we'll see Movado, Hugo Boss and Tommy Hilfiger taking Android Wear watches to Baselworld in two weeks.

We say all of a sudden, Google has actually been building momentum for its smartwatch OS since the start of 2017. We're talking the New Balance RunIQ and Casio's second-gen smartwatch in January, the big Wear 2.0 roll out, teasers of a Swarovski watch and the Tag Connected Modular since then and Fossil hyping up that 300 wearables in 2017 goal.

Of course some of those will be fashion hybrid smartwatches, which is what we've seen from Movado and Hugo Boss so far. But Android Wear seems very much a priority for a sizeable group of sports and fashion brands in 2017. Google seems to be well on its way to building and sustaining the true equivalent of Android for smartphones.

We'll have to wait and see if the smartwatch buying public feels the same way - Google has aleady hinted that Wear watch sales are higher than is generally estimated. That's with the Apple Watch as the main competition but perhaps there'll be more appetite for a Fitbit smartwatch if/when that launches later this year.

VR goes social

Week in wearable tech: Fitbit Alta HR, a new Garmin and Android Wear wins

And after a busy few weeks of arcade-friendly HTC Vive and multi-player Oculus Touch demos at MWC and GDC, Facebook launched its first proper VR app.

Facebook 360 will be on the Samsung Gear VR for starters, following Oculus Rooms, and is essentially a hub for 360 photos and videos posted to the social network. There's a Timeline of your own creations (if you have a 360-degree camera) as well as a Following feed and an Explore tab if no-one you know is as futuristic as you yet.

It is in part a response to Google's Daydream platform which does, of course, have YouTube 360 in its corner but is still playing catch up with just one headset on sale so far. After the big financial ouch from the Zenimax trial, Zuckerberg is getting his big social VR plans back on track. This app is a small drop in phase one of his 50 part (virtual and real) world domination plans. Zuck pledged to spend $3 billion on virtual reality and Facebook could sink a fair bit of that into VR content creators to keep that Explore section populated.

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.

Related stories