A question I get on a very regular basis is, “What watch are you wearing in this video?” Most times that watch is mistaken for an Apple watch and opinions become divided between being appalled that I would wear an Apple-made product to wondering how well an Apple Watch works with a Chromebook. I’ve responded to a handful of those questions over the course of years I’ve worn a watch in videos, but let me clear the air again: I wear a Fitbit Versa 2 and wore the Fitbit Versa before that. I’ll likely wear the Fitbit Versa 3 whenever it becomes a thing.
As a long-time Fitbit user, I was pretty excited late in 2019 when the news came in that Google had bought the company. I gave up on Wear OS a long time ago and honestly love the simplicity, look and feel of the Versa watches. They are light, attractive, and easy to use. They track all the stuff I’m interested in, give me quick-glance notifications for the things I want, and generally do the primary stuff I need in a smart watch.
With the Versa 2, Alexa was added (much to my aggravation) along with the ambient, always-on OLED screen. While I don’t use Alexa for anything, I do love the ability to quickly reply to a message from my wrist with simple voice dictation. It’s a tad slow, but I’ve been very happy with it when I’ve needed to utilize it. Having this ability on my wrist every day only made me wish I could leverage the Google Assistant instead, so when Fitbit sold to Google, I knew it was only a matter of time before that reality arrived.
From what the guys over at 9to5 Google have unearthed in the latest build of the Fitbit APK, it seems like that time is going to be very soon. Digging into the latest build of the Fitbit app, there are strings hidden that cover Google Assistant compatibility and on-boarding that look very similar to the processes already in place for Alexa on the Versa 2. Additionally, there are a few XML files that also carry pretty descriptive titles. Take a look:
<string name=”ga_activate_assistant”>Activate Assistant</string>
<string name=”ga_activate_assistant_general_error”>Unable to process request to activate Assistant</string>
<string name=”ga_deactivation_error”>Error deactivating Assistant</string>
The fact that this is all present in the app right now paints a clear picture that Google is moving forward with getting the Assistant on the first non-WearOS smartwatch. Though the purchase of Fitbit is still technically not completed from a regulatory standpoint, this new software addition to the Versa 2 should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with both Google and Fitbit. While we don’t expect Fitbit to change that much in the coming years as a company, we fully expect Google to do all it can to leverage the Assistant in this form factor to make the already-popular Versa line of watches that much better and more appealing to potential customers. Now all we need is the Versa 3 to show up with some simple speakers on board and the ability to run the new, smaller software version of the Assistant right on the watch: no phone needed. I could get on board for that.