The Apple Watch doesn’t have Fitbit’s potentially life-saving new feature

The Versa, Versa Lite, Versa 2, Ionic and Charge 3 all got the surprise upgrade this week

Fitbit just beat the Apple Watch to adding this important health tracking feature
(Image credit: Fitbit)

A range of Fitbit wearables this week gained the ability to monitor blood oxygen saturation for the first time.

Owners of various Fitbit fitness trackers reported that blood oxygen saturation data (also known as SpO2) is now appearing as a health metric in the Fitbit app. Fitbit devices now offering the new reading include the Versa, Versa Lite, Versa 2, Ionic and Charge 3 wearables.

Fitbit Versa 2 fitness smartwatch | Sale price £159 | Was £199.99 | Save £41 (21%) at Amazon

Fitbit Versa 2 fitness smartwatch | Sale price £159 | Was £199.99 | Save £41 (21%) at Amazon
Using the integrated voice assistant, get quick news, info and weather, set bedtime reminders and alarms or control your smart home devices with ease. The Fitbit Versa 2 also tracks sleep, heart rate (24/7) and supports smart notifications, among other great features. Not to mention, the battery lasts over four days with just one charge.

The variability of oxygen levels in the bloodstream can help inform a Fitbit owner about variations in breathing while asleep, which can be a symptom of sleep apnea.

(Image credit: Fitbit)

Other wearables help with sleep apnea, including the Apple Watch Series 5, but Apple is yet to provide a specific reading for blood oxygen saturation. French health tech firm Withings recently announced the ScanWatch, which offers blood oxygen saturation monitoring as a central feature, but is awaiting medical clearance to go on sale.

Fitbit says the wearables use their existing infrared sensor to take the new measurement, and that healthy users should see only small variations in blood oxygen saturation during their sleep. Larger variations could be indicative of irregular breathing and potentially an underlying health problem.

It’s a good move for Fitbit, and one which demonstrates how a wearable’s collection of health and fitness data can be broadened without changing any hardware. It also puts the company ahead of rivals like Apple and Withings at a key time - especially as Google is in the process of buying the healthy tech company, in a deal that should be completed later in 2020.

Fitbit Charge 3 fitness tracker | Sale price £94.99 | Was £129.99 | Save £35 (27%) at Amazon

Fitbit Charge 3 fitness tracker | Sale price £94.99 | Was £129.99 | Save £35 (27%) at Amazon
With a battery life of up to 7 days, the Fitbit Charge 3 can effectively keep tabs on many body metrics for extended periods of time. Use the 24/7 heart rate feature to better track calorie burn and optimise workouts. As well as these, the Fitbit Charge 3 automatically recognises exercises like runs, swims, elliptical, sports and more and records them for you in the Fitbit app.

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Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.