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Wearable Tech

Fitbit Ionic: 9 tips and tricks to get the most out of the smartwatch

Not sure where to start with the Fitbit Ionic. How about right here?

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Fitbit Ionic (£235.00 at Amazon.co.uk) is the company's smartest fitness-first watch yet. It has its own app store and a place to find and customize new watch faces. But where do you even begin with something that does a lot more than previous Fitbits? 

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Well, if you follow our advice, the best place to start is with the initial setup. 

Setup

The initial setup process is a breeze. A tap here, a swipe there and a few minutes later you're set. Follow the instructions in this post to see what setup is all about.

Gestures

gesture-navigation-fitbit-ionic

Jason Cipriani/CNET

The Ionic has a touchscreen, along with physical buttons for navigation. From the main screen, or watchface, each gesture does something a bit different:

  • Swipe up: Reveals notifications 
  • Swipe down: Music controls 
  • Swipe right: Shortcut to limited settings 
  • Swipe left: View installed apps

Button navigation

There are three physical buttons on the Ionic. Each one pulls double duty with a short and a long press from the main watch face.

The left button acts as your back button, or if you hold it in long enough, Fitbit Pay launches. The top-right button launches the first app in your app dock with a short press; a long press will open music playback controls. The bottom-right button gives you quick access to the third app in your app dock, while a long-press reveals your notifications.

Install apps

Fitbit now has an app store for the Ionic, where the company itself along with third-party developers and list free and paid apps that run on the Ionic.

You can't browse the store on the watch itself. Instead, you need to use the Fitbit app on your phone. After opening the app, tap the watch icon in the top-left corner followed by Apps.

fitibt-app-store

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The Apps section is broken into apps you have installed on your watch and the app store. The My Apps tab is where you can edit settings for each app, such as entering your Starbucks Card number or sign into Strava. This is also where you go to uninstall any app you have installed, even those preinstalled by Fitbit. Tap on the app, then select Remove from the next page.

The All Apps tab is the app store. Browse and download apps as you would any other app store, granting permissions to apps when requested.

If you come across a paid app, the payment process isn't handled by Fitbit. Instead, it's up to each developer on how it will handle licensing and payment.

Rearranging apps

move-apps-fitbit-ionic

Jason Cipriani/CNET

When you swipe to the left on the Ionic's watch face to view installed apps, a 4x4 grid is displayed. Keep swiping to the left to view more installed apps, then tap an app to launch it.

However, if you want to rearrange installed apps, long-press on the icon and then drag it to your preferred location.

Watch faces

How smart is a smartwatch if it doesn't offer any interactive watch faces? To customize the look of your Ionic, you can download, install and tweak a watch face through the Fitbit app.

Open the app, tap on the watch icon, followed by Clock Faces. This section of the app looks a lot like the app section, where the first page is the current face you are using, with a second tab housing the storefront for faces from Fitbit and third-party developers.

You can only install a single face at a time and will need to revisit this section of the Fitbit app in order to redownload and change faces.

Some faces allow you to alter colors or change what information is displayed each time your watch lights up. Tap on the face you have installed on the My Clock page to view any settings related to that face.

Sync music

The Fitbit Ionic has some extra storage for users to sync music playlists to the watch for workouts when a phone isn't nearby.

You have two options to get your tunes on the watch. Either sign up for a Pandora Plus account and sync your favorite stations to the watch or install Fitbit's PC/Mac app to manually sync music to the Ionic.

The process of actually syncing music is done in the Fitbit app under the Media tab. There you can select the stations from Pandora you want to have always available, as well as get instructions for syncing music from your computer.

Connect headphones

pair-ionic-with-bluetooth-headset

Jason Cipriani/CNET

With music on your watch, you need a way to actually listen to it. Thankfully, the Ionic can connect to Bluetooth headphones and stream music straight from your wrist to your ears.

To pair headphones with the Ionic, open the Settings app on the watch, then scroll down and select Bluetooth > New Device. If you own a pair of Fitbit's Bluetooth Flyer earbuds, the watch will automatically connect to them as long as they are already in pairing mode. Otherwise, the watch will provide a list of Bluetooth headphones it found and ask which device you want to connect to.

Fitbit Pay

As previously mentioned, a long-press of the left button will launch Fitbit Pay. You can then use this to make a mobile payment anywhere they are accepted. We've already covered how to set up Fitbit Pay and everything else you need to know in this post.