The Fitbit Ionic's first major update adds new apps and watchfaces

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The Fitbit Ionic is Fitbit's first true smartwatch, and although not ideal, it's a great step in the right direction for the company.

The biggest news here is the addition of more third-party applications. The wearable company just announced the first update for the Ionic's Fitbit OS, complete with new apps, clock faces, and more. Now Fitbit is updating the watch software with several dozen more apps, with new ones now available from well known companies such as Philips, Flipboard, and Yelp (yelp).

The apps will be available in English globally by the end of the year, Fitbit wrote in a blog post.

Fitbit is also introducing Fitbit Labs, which is a way for the company's Research & Development team to test potential new features in the form of experimental apps and clock faces.

More than 100 clock faces to customize the look and feel of Ionic plus at-a-glance access to information like active minutes, heart rate, games, goal progress and more. It's a bummer, of course, that the product didn't launch with this full an app selection, but if nothing else, it shows that Fitbit's committed to building the thing up as quickly as possible. Also in 2018, Fitbit expects to debut a new partnership with global streaming music service Deezer, which will help users take streaming music with them even without a mobile device. Additionally, there's a new Fitbit Leaderboard app, which lets users compare their fitness stats against friends and family directly from the Ionic.

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Support for multiple cards - You can now choose which card you want to use for Fitbit Pay directly on the Ionic; supported banks are up to 25 in 13 different markets.

For me, the most exciting improvement in this update is faster touch interactions in Fitbit OS.

Some of the new apps arrive at the height of the holiday gift buying season, so perhaps they'll make the Ionic a more tempting, Android compatible alternative to the Apple Watch.

For instructions on installing the Fitbit OS update, head here. It released the gadget in October with only a few apps to its name - then proceeded to leave the brand new OS alone for nearly two months without a software update.

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