Wearable Tech

Fitbit's new software update makes your tracker more personal

The company adds new features to help you set better goals, get workout recommendations and connect with others.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Your Fitbit is about to get better. The wearable company on Thursday here at CES announced updates for its mobile app that will add a bunch of new features to help you connect with others and better achieve your fitness goals for the new year.

Here's everything that's coming to the Fitbit app:

Personal goal setting

You previously had the option to set daily goals for steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes. By default, we're recommended to take 10,000 steps each day. For some people that may not be realistic and others, such as those who run, it could be too simple. The new Personal Goal Setting feature looks to fix this.

A small banner on the Fitbit app will ask if you'd like help setting goals. There are goals for steps and activity, exercise and workouts, improving sleep, eating a healthier diet and managing weight. You will then be asked to answer a short survey that Fitbit uses in addition to your activity data to recommend more realistic and achievable goals.

For example, Fitbit may recommend newcomers to fitness tracking to try taking 7,000 steps a day, rather than the normal 10,000.

Guidance

A new Guidance tab is being added to the Fitbit app. Here you can find recommend workouts from the Fitstar app based on your activities. (Fitstar is a free and paid workout platform owned by Fitbit that offers guided video workouts and customized fitness plans.)

If you ran 5 miles wearing a Fitbit device, the Guidance tab might suggest a Fitstar Personal Trainer session that rests your legs and focuses on an abdominal workout. If you had a few lazy days, the Guidance tab may suggest getting back on track with a 7-minute workout. You also receive workout recommendations based on what people in similar demographics are doing.

Speaking of Fitstar, Fitbit announced that it has added new trainers ("Leah" and "Adrian") to the platform, along with a variety of new workouts for everyone from beginners to extreme athletes. The company also added a genre-based radio program (sort of like Pandora) to the app that lets you listen to millions of tracks during workouts. There are currently playlists for pop, rock, hip-hop, electric dance, '80s, '90s, 2000s, a power mix curated by Fitstar and a cardio mix curated by Fitstar. The music feature will be available initially to both free and paid subscribers, although Fitbit has said it will be a premium only benefit down the road. will eventually go to premium only.

A premium Fitstar membership provides access to unlimited personalized workouts for $8 a month or $40 a year.

Community

One of the best things about Fitbit is the social aspect. The platform has the largest user base and lets you compete with friends and family members in a variety of challenges, which helps keep you more motivated. Fitbit has found that users on average take 700 additional steps each day when they have friends on the platform.

The company is now looking to create a new way for friends, family members and like-minded individuals to connect on the platform. You will soon be able to post pictures, share exercises, show off achievements, and share anything else you're proud of to friends and fellow group members.

These will appear in a new Community section of the app, which will include a Facebook-like news feed and cheer button for showing your support. It will also feature content articles for staying healthy and promote local Fitbit sponsored workout events in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and other cities.

The Community tab will arrive by March as part of a software update to the Fitbit app. Both the Personal Goal Setting and Guidance features will be available later this week.