• Paul Fingleton

Fitbit Ionic gets smarter with first software update

The Fitbit Ionic is getting smarter.

Barely a few months after the Ionic's release, Fitbit's first smartwatch gets a significant update that brings new watch faces and apps to make the device smarter than it was at launch.

Fitbit OS, the operating system for the Ionic, received a free software update that makes the user interface smoother and brings more than 100 new, data-rich and interactive watch faces. Along with the new faces, come 60-odd apps from top brands like Nest, Hue, New York Times and Flipboard bring some more of the 'smarts' that were missing from the Ionic at launch.

Fitbit Labs comes along with the new software update, an initiative by Fitbit to test out new features for the device and see how the public reacts. If they like it, it will become a permanent feature; If the reaction is not so good, Fitbit will take it back to the drawing board or cancel it altogether.


"It was difficult to get prototypes quickly into users’ hands so we can learn and iterate, Now we have an SDK that allows us to create, develop, and launch unique apps and experiences for a variety of audiences quickly. Fitbit Labs is enabled because of all the great work that’s happening at Fitbit on the SDK and other platforms that are being built for Ionic.”

- Robert da Silva, staff research data scientist at Fitbit


This OS update also incorporates the following improvements:

  • Multi-Card Payment. Now you can add up to 6 credit and debit cards to Fitbit Pay on Ionic and choose which card you want to use for each transaction, from the Ionic itself. The list of participating banks has also expanded, however the Fitbit Pay site still shows only KBC bank as supported within Ireland.

  • Faster interface: Ionic’s touchscreen capabilities are refined and enhanced so you can move more quickly through information on-device.

Music was limited at launch to the US-only service Pandora. Fitbit has announced with this OS update that it will partner with international streaming music service Deezer to bring its dynamic, personal streaming music service to Ionic users with a Deezer Premium+ subscription in 2018.

The update process from Fitbit OS 1.0 to 1.1 takes an unusually long time, well over an hour on our test device. We can only hope that future updates will bring more incremental OS updates rather than a large monolithic update that takes this long.

It is great to see the Ionic get smarter with these updates, because in our review the Ionic already stood out as a great fitness device but was short on the Smartwatch features. This is a good start and hopefully future updates will continue to push this device from a "maybe" purchase to a must-have device.