Fitbit has years of information about its users’ heart rate, sleep quality, workouts, weight gain and weight loss, and, in the case of women, period length and symptoms. But despite the level of detail Fitbit knows about your life, the insights and advice offered in the Fitbit app always seemed a little basic.
That’s about to change — but it’ll cost you.
Fitbit Premium, which was announced at the same time as the company's newest smartwatch, the Fitbit Versa 2, is rolling out in September as a $9.99-per-month app upgrade (with a free one-week trial for all Fitbit users to start). The subscription will unlock nine programs at launch that are designed to help you eat, sleep, work out and generally live better. Fitbit, which has disappointed Wall Street in recent quarters with sliding smartwatch sales, is taking a page from Apple’s playbook by moving beyond device sales to services.
But Fitbit Premium costs as much a music-streaming subscription, which means it has to be just as useful as one. We haven’t had the chance to put the paid service to the test, but here’s how Fitbit plans to convince you it’s worth paying for.
Fitbit Premium: Personal insights and programs
If you upgrade to Fitbit Premium, you’ll see more personal insights about how your activity and sleep affect each other. Right now, Fitbit offers generic advice based on conventional wisdom about sleep and activity. Fitbit Premium will use your data to tell you more about your health.
The paid subscription includes nine programs designed to improve the parts of your health you struggle with. For insomniacs, Get More Zzz’s and Habits for Restful Sleep offer personalized advice for getting more shut-eye. The app will also offer audio relaxation tracks for winding down before bed. Fitbit Premium will also drill down into your Sleep Score, the number calculated based on your time spent sleeping and the quality of your sleep, to see how you can improve.
Sleep is a core part of Fitbit Premium, but the app also offers programs around healthier eating, such as Understand Calories and Kick Your Sugar Habit, and workout classes in a separate Fitbit Coach app. It sounds a little basic on its face, but Fitbit Premium’s mix of tracking, motivational features and customized insights might be worth the price. Fitbit plans to add more programs for getting better sleep and more activity later this year.
Fitbit will also partner with popular health and fitness apps to bring their features into Fitbit Premium. For instance, Daily Burn’s strength-training workouts will be available in Fitbit Coach. Mindfulness exercises from Headspace will be part of Fitbit Premium’s pre-sleep wind-down routine recommendations.
Even more premium: Health coaching
Later this year, Fitbit will pilot a personal health-coaching program to help users with chronic health conditions, such as hypertension or diabetes. The program will connect those users with coaches who will create personal health plans for them to follow. The coaches will have access to users’ Fitbit data, and will be available for support and feedback .
Fitbit hasn’t said how much this program will cost, just that will be a paid offering and include Fitbit Premium as part of the cost.
According to a recent Fitbit study, 14 million U.S. adults subscribe to a fitness service and spend $174 per year on various apps. Fitbit Premium puts every health and fitness feature you need in one app so you’ll never, ever leave. Sleep scores, workout classes, personal health coaching, fitness challenges and even a wellness report you can print out and show your doctor — Fitbit is purposefully designing a paid service so comprehensive that you won’t feel the need to use any other app. Theoretically.
And that means you’re more likely to upgrade when new Fitbits go on sale. And maybe buy your friends and family new Fitbits, too, so they can compete against you in Fitbit Premium’s collaborative and adaptive challenges.
It’s a smart strategy. No other app puts all of that information in one place. The Apple Watch can’t even track sleep yet, let alone tell me how my daily step counts affect my resting heart rate.
Fitbit Premium’s success depends on whether the paid app’s customized workouts, programs and insights actually feel personal. If Premium’s advice doesn’t use my data to come up with incredibly specific tips, I can choose from a slew of other subscription services clamoring for my $9.99 every month. Your move, Fitbit.
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Caitlin is a Senior editor for Gizmodo. She has also worked on Tom's Guide, Macworld, PCWorld and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. When she's not testing out the latest devices, you can find her running around the streets of Los Angeles, putting in morning miles or searching for the best tacos.