Google announces $230 Fitbit Ace LTE for kids with Wear OS

The Fitbit Ace LTE is Google’s latest Wear OS device and aims to encourage kids (ages 7 and up) to be healthy through games, while also serving as a parent-child communication and real-time location device. Mobile connectivity, the Fitbit Arcade, and other features require a monthly or annual Fitbit Ace Pass subscription.

Practical: The Fitbit Ace LTE is Google’s most complete launch in a while [Gallery]

Design + hardware

Visually, the Ace LTE looks like a Sense 2 or Versa 4 with a rounded square OLED (333 PPI) protected by Gorilla Glass 3. In the box you get a raised plastic bumper that snaps into place to further protect the screen. The housing is also made of stainless steel and recycled plastic.

Battery life is well over 16 hours (typical 328 mAh) with standalone LTE connectivity and plenty of gaming, but no always-on display. The AOD can be enabled in the Settings app, which is identical to Wear OS. However, there are no Play Store, third-party apps or ads.

Typical usage is based on a school day with 6 sessions of 5 minutes of gameplay, 10 messages, 3 one minute voice calls, 5 location checks, 2 payments and 4 hours of Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Fitbit Ace LTE shares many of the same specs as the Pixel Watch 2, including the Snapdragon W5/Qualcomm 5100, 2GB RAM, 32GB storage, microphone, 5 ATM (50 meters) water resistance, and the same round pin-based charger with support for fast charging.

In addition to 4G LTE (courtesy of the existing Google Fi/T-Mobile partnership), there’s 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC and GPS/GNSS. As a Fitbit device, it has a simplified version of the optical heart rate sensor on the Pixel Watch 2, accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, magnetometer and ambient light sensor. Google has removed health sensors that aren’t necessary for children, like how the ECG app on the Pixel Watch already has an age requirement of 22+.

Pixel watch 2 Fitbit Ace LTE
320 ppi AMOLED 333 ppi OLED screen
Gorilla glass 5 Gorilla glass 3
24 hours with always on display 16+ hours with gaming/LTE, AOD disabled
306mAh 328mAh
30 minutes to 50%
43 minutes to 80%
75 minutes to 100%
30 minutes to 60% (11 hours)
70 minutes to 100% (16+ hours)
Housing: 100% recycled aluminum Housing: plastic, stainless steel, glass and recycled materials
$399.99 $229.95 + subscription

Gaming + fitness

To play the games, which are accessed via the bottom “triangle” button on the right, kids need to move. For example, you may not be able to play the next level/chapter until there is more activity, with Google cheekily calling this ‘interval-based gaming’.

Eejies are adaptable creatures that feed on daily activities: the more often children achieve their exercise goals, the healthier and happier their eejie becomes.

As they progress and complete daily activities, kids earn arcade tickets to customize their eejie character with new outfits and items to decorate their “house in Bit Valley, the birthplace of the eejie” (yes, like “Animal Crossing”) .

Titles in the Fitbit Arcade are powered by the Unity engine and make optimal use of the available hardware. For example, there is a fishing game called “Smokey Lake,” where your hand becomes a pole that vibrates when you catch something. You pull your hand up to bring him back in. Another title called ‘Pollo 11’ involves moving your wrist to navigate a ‘chicken in a bathtub racing through space’. In addition to the gesture-based gameplay, there are also puzzle-like challenges. New games are added every few months.

Games can be restricted by adults during set hours with ‘School Time’.

All available watch faces feature a ‘Noodle’ – a snake, skeleton or other themed character – activity ring to track their daily exercise goal, taking intensity into account. For example, 90 points is about 45 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity.

Google Research has developed a new exercise algorithm “that better and more accurately measures children’s physical activity throughout the day.” The experience takes overload into account, while goals are not all or nothing.

There’s a large speaker cutout on the left side and on the bottom is the only band connector that will be familiar to Versa/Sense owners. A loop is permanently attached to the top edge. The Fitbit Ace LTE recognizes which bands are connected thanks to a patented connection mechanism inspired by old Nintendo cartridges. This will load new content that can be used to customize their eejie.

There are currently six bands with fun names like Strange Arcade, Moovin’, Spooky Pubs, Glitterbomb Skate, Camp Nightmare and Courtside. There will be more to come.

Smartwatch features + mobile app

On the right side you will find the two buttons that cover the entire edge. The top one is marked by a circle that opens a screen to access communication features, alarm clock, activity stats and other smartwatch-like capabilities. Google Wallet tap-to-pay will launch in a “couple of months,” with parents able to set an amount and get real-time spending alerts.

The Ace LTE allows kids to message, make calls, and send voice memos (using an IP-based backend) to their parents from their wrist. Parents receive and send messages and see a month’s worth of Move Goal progress using the Fitbit Ace app available on Android and iOS. A child can have up to 20 approved contacts to call/message on the watch.

Parents can see where their children are in the Ace app, with this location data deleted after 24 hours. Privacy and data minimization are high stakes, with activity history in the Ace app “deleted after a maximum of 35 days.”

The $229.95 Fitbit Ace LTE is available for pre-order today on the Google Store and Amazon, with general availability on June 5. More retailers will follow. It is available in Spicy Pebble (green) with the Moovin’ Band or Mild Pebble (dark gray) with the Strange Arcade Band.

At launch (until August 31) you will receive a 50% discount on the Fitbit Ace Pass and a free band. Otherwise, it costs $119.99 per year or $9.99 per month for LTE services (messaging, calling and location sharing), Bit Valley and Fitbit Arcade games.

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