Fitbit OS 4.1 update brings improved health features - and uncertainty of its future

Fitbit was one of the remaining bastions of the independent wearable market. Emphasis on "was" after it was acquired by Google (pending regulatory approval) which puts its future in question. There have been very few concrete statements, let alone actions, that would assure Fitbit users that things will go either way, which is what makes this rather unexpected update to Fitbit OS feel a bit ominous.

Make no mistake, the update is pretty significant in terms of new features. Almost all recent models across the lines, including the Ionic and most Versa models. The most significant is perhaps the smart wake feature that will try to wake you up with subtle vibrations during the correct sleep cycle phase.

Admittedly, the Fitbit Versa 2 is the main beneficiary of Fitbit OS 4.1. The always-on mode now includes five watch faces that make use of color while still maintaining the watch's promised two-day battery life. There's also a "highly innovative algorithm" that promises the best heart rate tracking it has ever done.

With that many features coming in the first week of December, it's almost like Fitbit is saying goodbye while not leaving its faithful customers hanging. Neither company has, of course, said anything official and it's likely that Google will let Fitbit continue its business for a little while longer. At least until it assimilates it completely and rebrands it under perhaps the Pixel family.

Given the uncertainty of its future, it is almost ironic that Fitbit is also announcing the expansion of its paid Premium subscription. At $9.99 a month, the service collects your data to offer a more personalized health regimen. That now includes personal wellness reports and new workouts from popular brands. How long that service will last, however, is yet another question that has to be answered.