The Fitbit Ace LTE is like a Nintendo smartwatch for kids

When Fitbit invited me to a demo of the Ace LTE, its new tracker for kids, I didn’t expect much. The previous Ace trackers were pared-down Fitbit bands that didn’t do much and lacked GPS. Other smartwatches for kids tend to be boxy, glorified GPS trackers, designed to appeal more to parents than kids. But the Ace LTE? This is a kids smartwatch that feels like it might actually be fun to wear. I kind of wish there were something like it for adults.

The $229.95 Ace LTE has a squarish case that’s reminiscent of the Fitbit Versa. The main difference is that the materials are more appropriate for kids. (Think plastic and Corning Gorilla Glass instead of sapphire crystal and titanium.) There’s also an optional bumper for extra durability. However, if you flip it upside down, the sensor array looks nearly identical to the Pixel Watch 2. A neat perk is that if you have a Pixel Watch 2, this uses the same charger.

It gets about 16 hours of battery life, but fast charging means you get 60 percent in 30 minutes.

The Ace LTE’s whole schtick is exercise should be a form of play. In fact, it’s more like a game console strapped to your wrist than a traditional smartwatch. Instead of apps, the watch comes with a bunch of preloaded video games. The concept is instead of interval training, where you sprinkle bits of high-intensity suffering into a workout, the Ace LTE employs interval gaming. Once they’ve played a certain amount, kids are prompted to add to their step count to earn more playing time.

There’s also an Eejie, a Tamagotchi-like buddy who lives in the Ace LTE. This, too, is a bit like Animal Crossing in that you can buy an Eejie in-game items, rooms, clothes, and other accessories. But instead of microtransactions using real-life money, you have to buy those items using arcade tickets. Those, in turn, can only be won by making progress on daily goals or by playing games.

There’ll be six collectible bands to start, each costing $35.

The special connector acts as a “game cartridge,” holding exclusive items for Eejies, a Tamogatchi-like buddy.

Each Ace LTE band is also a collectible. Once popped on, a band unlocks new outfits for the Eejie, exclusive collectibles, and a themed noodle — the animated ring that represents your daily progress. Additional bands cost $35 and have their own themes. The idea is that kids can trade bands to get items, much in the way us ancient nerds traded POG slammers and Pokémon cards.

I got to try two games: Smokey Lake and Pollo 13. The former is a fishing game that reminded me of how you collect fish in Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley. It involves viewing your virtual environment, casting your arm out to catch a fish, and pulling it back to reel it in. Pollo 13 was a Mario Kart-esque game where you play as a chicken racing in a bathtub, collecting eggs to get powers. You race by tilting your arm, and the aim is to best your archnemesis, Kim. (I don’t know what Kim did, but she ate my dust.) After playing a bit of both, I was prompted to take around 500 steps so I could play more.

1/4

Everything is controlled through the Fitbit Ace app, which works on iOS and Android.
Image: Fitbit

But the gaming is only one aspect of the Ace LTE. The other is to help kids stay connected to their parents. While previous Fitbit Ace devices didn’t have GPS tracking, this one comes with LTE built in. That enables calling, messaging, and location sharing. The bad news is getting those features requires a $9.99 monthly or $120 annual subscription to the Ace Pass data plan. The good news is you don’t have to go through a carrier, nor does a kid need their own phone.

Everything is controlled through the Fitbit Ace companion app, which works on both iOS and Android. The app is where parents can set trusted contacts, send and receive messages, view their child’s real-time location, and monitor how their child is doing with regard to their activity goals. There’s also a school time mode, which disables gaming during school hours. Later this year, Fitbit says that it will also add Tap to Pay.

It looks a lot like a Fitbit Versa on the wrist, but the internal hardware is closer to a Pixel Watch 2.

Kids smartwatches always raise an extra question of privacy. Fitbit told me at the demo that only parents can access location data, which is deleted after 24 hours. Activity data is deleted after 35 days and will not be used for Google ads. The Ace LTE also will not include third-party apps or ads. Of course, this is what Google, which owns Fitbit, says upfront. If you’re worried about the fine print, concerned parents should also look at the Fitbit Ace privacy policy.

We’ll have to test the Ace LTE to see how well it works — both as a means of encouraging kids to move more and as a tool for parents. That said, this is a significant update to the Ace lineup and one of the more fun approaches to a smartwatch for kids that we’ve seen in a while.

The Fitbit Ace LTE is available starting on June 5th for $229.95, with an Ace Pass priced at $9.99 monthly or $119.99 annually. Annual subscribers get an extra collectible band, and those who buy it by August 31st will get 50 percent off the subscription cost.

Source: The Verge

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

DON’T MISS OUT!
Subscribe To Newsletter
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
Stay Updated
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.
close-link