Fitbit's Apple Watch competitor will offer third-party apps & 'app gallery' at launch - CEO

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Fitbit's first true smartwatch will launch with select third-party apps and an "app gallery," the company's CEO promised on Friday, trying to dispel earlier rumors.

A software development kit will be available to all developers shortly after launch, Park told The Verge. The SDK is said to be based on software picked up through Fitbit's Pebble acquisition, enabling apps that are also compatible with iOS and Android devices.

The company is expected to use a light touch in reviewing apps, and will let developers build special software shared only with friends and family.

To install apps, the public will have to browse an "app gallery" in the company's existing mobile app for iPhone and Android devices.

Park declined to say when the watch will launch, or name companies it's partnering with for initial apps.

"All we can say at this point is that music is a really important part of the fitness experience, and you'll see functionality related to that," he commented. "When it comes to the music industry, it's not just technical. There are business issues as well when it comes to offline playback."

It's been rumored that Spotify could be missing from Fitbit's initial app slate. Instead Park may be referring to Pandora integration, including offline caching for listening without a smartphone.

Other alleged features include GPS, a heart rate sensor, a unibody aluminum shell, and a bright 1,000-nit display — all features on par with the Apple Watch Series 2. It may also offer some form of wireless payments, and four-day battery life, which would top the one-day life on current Apple Watches.

Pricing could slot in around $300. Optional BeatsX-like Bluetooth earbuds might cost about $150.

While still a leading wearables maker, Fitbit has lost significant ground in the past year, faced with pressure from Apple and Garmin on the high end and brands like Xiaomi on the opposite side.

A Fitbit smartwatch will likely have to compete against the Apple Watch Series 3, which could ship as soon as this fall. Some rumored technologies include sleep tracking, a glucose monitor, "smart" bands, and/or built-in LTE.


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