Kids being more active is a good thing – we can all agree on that. Whether an age-appropriate Fitbit will inspire them to do that is more of an open question, but the Google-owned company hopes to do just that with its third-generation activity tracker, the Fitbit Ace 3 (opens in new tab).
There are a number of ways the Ace aims to nudge a child to move more. The most likely to succeed in our estimation are the family challenges, which pit Fitbit-owning members against each other in friendly (hopefully) competition to accumulate steps or active minutes, or cover the greatest distance.
The Ace 3 also contains targets for 60 active minutes a day – a number which reflects NHS recommendations for five- to 18-year-olds – and reminders to rack up 250 steps every hour.
In a new feature for this model, the user can download one of four animated watch faces. These change in response to how much activity is recorded that day. The Fitbit Ionic, the company’s first smartwatch, previously had four animated dog and cat watch faces, and you could feed these virtual pets once you notched up a set amount of steps. It was a feature that captivated the Coach editor’s daughter at the time. The Ace 3 uses a bunny, cat, Martian and spaceship to similar effect, although we’ve not seen the new designs or had a chance to check if the approach is as enthralling on a black and white screen.
Parents and carers can also see their child’s activity levels in the Fitbit app, which on one hand could help with positive reinforcement, or on the other hand lead to counter-productive nagging.
The new Ace 3 has also increased its battery life to eight days, although those animated watch faces will drain the battery quicker. The design has also been tweaked with softer edges and there’s the obligatory merchandise tie-in with forthcoming Minions-branded straps. In this regard, however, Fitbit is leagues behind Garmin, which has Marvel, Star Wars, Frozen, Disney Princess and Minnie Mouse branded models of its vívofit jr. 3 (opens in new tab) (£79.99) and vívofit jr. 2 (opens in new tab) (£59.99) trackers.
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The Ace 3 also tracks sleep so parents can keep tabs on how long the wearer’s asleep for, as well as bedtime reminders to push kids towards a consistent bedtime and silent alarms to help rouse them in the morning. Adult Fitbit wearers will find the data collected light on detail, because the Ace doesn’t include a heart rate monitor. Neither, wisely, does it include any estimate of how many calories the wearer has burned.
Privacy measures can be put in place if you set up a Family account, which gives adults control over connections, and a Kids View app. It’s recommended for children under 12, though exercising that degree of control over some 12-year-olds might be challenging. You may well find kids over 12 prefer the adult Inspire 2 anyway.
We’re not convinced the Ace 3 will be right for everyone, but we can see some kids really taking to it. The device is available for pre-order now, with a shipping date set for 15th March.
Buy from Fitbit (opens in new tab) | £69.99
Jonathan Shannon has been the editor of the Coach website since 2016, developing a wide-ranging experience of health and fitness. Jonathan took up running while editing Coach and has run a sub-40min 10K and 1hr 28min half marathon. His next ambition is to complete a marathon. He’s an advocate of cycling to work and is Coach’s e-bike reviewer, and not just because he lives up a bit of a hill. He also reviews fitness trackers and other workout gear.
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