Fitbit now supports third-party apps on its smartwatch

Fitbit has updated the OS on its first smartwatch to support third-party apps from its App Gallery.

Following the company’s $23 million acquisition of smartwatch maker Pebble, all eyes were on Fitbit’s next move to counter the increasing threat from the Apple Watch and Android Wear-based devices.

What emerged from Fitbit was the Ionic smartwatch. Many critics say its design is uninspiring, but the most shocking revelation was the lack of support for third-party apps which should be a basic feature of any smartwatch.

Jon Oakes, VP of Product at Fitbit, says: “Ionic has received strong, positive reviews regarding its leading health and fitness-focused features, long battery life, platform compatibility, and more. With this update, we are delivering on our promise to enhance the smart experience with popular apps, intelligent clock faces, and new motivating tools that help you reach your goals,”

“This is just the start – along with future enhancements to the Fitbit OS, we have an extremely engaged global developer community excited to continually bring even more unique offerings to our users via the Fitbit App Gallery.”

Third-party app support

Fitbit claims more than 5,000 developers have joined Fitbit’s new developer community and registered for the SDK public beta — including some big household names.

New apps from popular brands available for free download include:

  • Food & Drink: Yelp, the leading local guide for consumers, to easily find the best nearby restaurants.

  • Health & Fitness: Clue, the #1 rated free female health app by gynecologists, to track your menstrual cycle and symptoms (coming by end of year); GAME GOLF, the leader in tracking golf performance analytics, will help to improve your game by providing precise distances to the green and visualizing the hole layout (coming by end of year); and Surfline, the leading surf reporting and forecasting company, to track swells and conditions so you can find the best waves (coming by end of year).

  • Home & IOT: Nest, the leading connected home brand, to easily control your thermostat from your wrist (coming by end of year); and Hue Lights, for controlling Philips’ leading wireless lighting system.

  • News: Flipboard, with stories for every interest, to quickly preview the latest health and fitness stories; and The New York Times, the global paper of record, to easily check current news headlines.

  • Travel & Transit: TripAdvisor , the world’s largest travel site, to easily discover restaurants and things to do nearby (coming by end of year); Uber by Fitbit gets you fast reliable rides in minutes, displays your ride status, and provides access to your trip details (coming by end of the year); and United Airlines, one of the world’s largest airlines, to access boarding passes and check flight status (coming by end of year).

Fitbit remains health-oriented and will be using its watch for research using things such as data analysis and behavioural science. This is similar to Apple with its own smartwatch — who recently launched an innovative Heart Study app.

Helping to kickstart app development for the platform is the #Made4Fitbit challenge which also launched today. Over $15,000 of prizes are up for grabs.

Developers must compete in one (or all) of three app categories: Sports + Fitness, Health + Wellness, Transportation + Local. Apps will be reviewed by Fitbit and an independent panel of judges from the technology, wearables, and health communities.

Entries will be scored according to the following criteria: Innovative use of the Fitbit SDK, Functionality, Relevance to App Category, Look + Feel.

You can find out more about the challenge and how to enter here.

Do you plan on building apps for Fitbit’s smartwatch? Let us know in the comments.

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