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Long-running fitness tech debate rolls on: Apple Watch or Fitbit?

Tiana Tyler

Fitness enthusiasts who embrace tech need to make a choice for their wearable: Apple or Fitbit. Neither device is perfect, but each has fans for different reasons.

Fitness trackers like Apple watches and FitBits have been evolving over past years, with the technology catering to more lifestyle apps and features rather than workout trends. There is a wide variety of tech used to track health and wellness, but these two devices are pieces in the ongoing battle between iOS and Android in pop culture.

Sara Stamm, a Michigan State student, appreciates how far both devices have come even outside her preference of Apple watches and their paired products. She enjoys using her watch as an extension to her phone for every day activity.

“I like seeing my messages on it,” Stamm said. “I feel like in the beginning both devices were targeted more toward athletes, but now they have features for everyday people to use.”

The evolution of the device and it becoming more widely used foreshadows the future advances of this technology. Michigan State student Mason Lyons brings the perspective of someone who has experienced the best of both worlds.

“I used to have a Fitbit,” said Lyons. “I liked it for working out. It was good back then with all its fitness features.”

Switching over to Apple to utilize more of the everyday features was ultimately the end of Lyons’ Fitbit journey.

“Apple is just easier to use, I like the workout app and I love looking at the map after a walk or run. The watch is just easier to have because I have an iPhone and MacBook,” Lyons said.

Fitbit’s stride to make a more rounded device is taking big steps since its merger with Google in 2021. It now features many of Google's apps like Maps, Google Wallet, and YouTube Music. This came with the release of the Fitbit Charge 6 in September 2023. The device does have a different approach than Apple though, like not including the entirety of their features without a subscription to Fitbit Premium.

The most recent Apple watch release in September 2023 has some new features that take owning this device beyond fitness and health. Trying to grasp a bigger audience, Apple releases information about the newest gadget in the series; Apple Watch Series 9. By making their watch more well rounded and family oriented, Apple is giving Fitbit the motivation it needs to upgrade its manufacturing.

Apple users like Lyons agree that having more general health features is good but don’t look at the watch’s benefits beyond compatibility to their phone or other devices.

“I like my phone for all the other features,” Lyons said. “I have a series 2 from about 10 years ago.”

Michigan State student Matt Crain, like other Apple watch owners, found that its most simple and basic features work best for him.

“Honestly I got it as a gift,” said Crain. “I don't wear it very often but it tells me the time and gives me notifications. The features now do everything I need.”

Exploring the world of sports tech wearables is no easy feat. The layers that go into choosing the “better” brand in reality are far more complex than just what emojis look better. When it comes to fitness tracking these devices are top two, duking it out for number one in health and fitness wearables.

Even though there is never going to be any real settling to this battle for the number one spot in sports tech, having these new advances in technology is something different to experience and witness in real time.

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