Now that Fitbit is officially under Google’s umbrella, of course we’re all be curious as to see what the first product will be. However, if you were hoping for a tricked-out, Google-powered smartwatch, you’ll have to wait a bit longer. This spring, Fitbit is instead rolling out an Ace 3, an affordable fitness tracker for kids.
The first Ace tracker launched in 2018, with the Ace 2 following about a year later. This time around, the new Ace sticks with the more rugged look of the Ace 2, albeit with a more rounded bumper and edges. (The original Ace was basically a Fitbit Alta, minus the heart rate sensor.) New features include 20 new clock faces, including animated ones featuring a bunny, cat, Martian, and spaceship. The Ace 3 also improves battery life to eight days. Like its predecessor, the Ace 3 is swim-proof and allows kids with smartphones to receive call notifications from their family. And apparently, the Ace 3 will introduce new accessory bands—the first of which will star Minions. Yes, those yellow pill-shaped blobs in jeans from Despicable Me.
Of course, privacy and safety are the big elephants in the room when it comes to strapping a fitness tracker to a kid. Fitbit said parents can use a Fitbit Family account—which is required for using the Ace 3—to monitor their children’s activity, control what their kids see on the device itself, and approve any friend requests. The device is also compliant with child privacy laws like COPPA in the U.S. and GDPR in Europe. Fitbit also emphasized that the focus of the Ace 3 is to encourage activity and help parents work with their children to set healthy sleeping habits. (The default settings aim for 60 minutes of activity and 250 steps per hour, with the option to customize the goals during school hours.) In general, the data collected by the Ace series of trackers is fairly basic, because it relies on an accelerometer and not much else. The Ace 3 doesn’t have the typical heart rate monitor, GPS, or SpO2 sensor that you’d see on fitness trackers and smartwatches aimed at adults. But if the idea of Fitbit—and by proxy, Google—having any sort of data on your kids squicks you out, you shouldn’t be putting fitness trackers on them to begin with.
Nothing Fitbit’s doing with the Ace 3 is a drastic change, for both this particular device and fitness trackers for children in general. Garmin’s Vivofit Jr. line also incorporates popular characters, bright designs, family challenges, and bumper casing.
One thing Fitbit is changing is the price. The Ace 3 is about $10 more expensive than its predecessor at $80. That’s still pretty affordable as far as trackers go, but given that it’s not adding a whole lot more in terms of features, the price increase is a bit disappointing.
The Ace 3 is available for preorder in black and red, and blue and green versions, and is expected to ship March 15. An embossed Minions strap, should your child actually want it, is expected sometime this summer for an extra $30.