You can buy the new Fitbit Versa 3 and Sense smartwatches right now, but heads up when you do—if you’re upgrading, you’re going to have to relearn how to use a Fitbit. The two smartwatches come preloaded with Fitbit 5.0, a new OS with an overhauled navigation and UI.
Let’s get one thing out of the way upfront: Fitbit 5.0 won’t come to older devices. If you want to experience the latest and greatest Fitbit OS, you’re going to have to buy the latest and greatest Fitbit devices, namely the Versa 3 or the Sense.
Fitbit says as much in a developer post it published today, where it called Fitbit 5.0 the “largest and most impactful smartwatch update since the launch of Fitbit Ionic in 2017.” The OS overhauls how you navigate a Fitbit, including a new swipe function to move back in apps. It also uses a new font, dubbed Raiju, that better utilizes screen space.
If you’re wondering about your apps and watch faces from previous Fitbit devices, that part gets tricky. Fitbit created a compatibility mode for watch faces that dynamically scales them from 300×300 to 336×336. But due to the change in screen shape, that won’t work for all watch faces.
Fitbit went out of its way to test watch faces and automatically mark those compatible with 5.0, so they’d work on day one. If a watch face didn’t make the cut, the developer will need to do some work.
Apps are in a similar position; those built for 4.0 don’t automatically work for Fitbit 5.0. Developers will need to do some work to bring their app over to 5.0, and they’ll need to maintain two copies of the app (one for 4.0 and one for 5.0). As one developer explains, though, much of the code can be the same or shared, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to maintain both.
You can read more about the changes at Fitbit’s developer site, though it’s mean as a high-level overview for anyone creating apps and watch faces.