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Technology US

Google completes purchase of Fitbit

Google has completed its $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit, the company announced today. The news follows the EU’s announcement late last year that it had approved the deal, after Google made a series of commitments about its planned operation of Fitbit and use of the its health data.

In its announcement, Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh said the acquisition was “about devices, not data.” Emphasizing this point, he reiterated Google’s commitments about how it will handle the acquisition in markets around the world. These pledges include not using Fitbit users’ health and wellness data for Google’s ad tracking.

Osterloh also said the deal won’t affect how third-party fitness trackers work with Android, or how Fitbit works with other non-Google services.

In a statement, Fitbit’s CEO James Park welcomed the news, and said the acquisition would let the company “innovate faster, provide more choices, and make even better products.” However, he added emphasized that Fitbit’s products and services would continue to work across both iOS and Android.

“We will maintain strong data privacy and security protections, giving you control of your data and staying transparent about what we collect and why,” Park said.

It was data concerns like these that have prompted regulators around the world to investigate the deal. Late last year, EU regulators gave the deal their approval, completing an investigation they began back in August.

The approval came with a number of conditions, including that Google cannot use Fitbit data from users in the European Economic Area (EEA) such as GPS and health data for ad targeting. As part of the approval, EEA users must also be able to opt-out of having their health and wellness data shared with other Google services, and Google has agreed to continue to support third-party wearables with Android.

Google’s announcement appears to have been made prior to the Australia’s Competition & Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) final decision on the acquisition. In late December, The Guardian reported that Google risked a $400 million fine if it proceeded with the deal without the regulator’s approval.

At the time, the ACCC rejected Google’s proposed conditions for the deal over data concerns as well as fears that it could force Fitbit’s rivals out of the wearables market because of their reliance on Google’s Android. Although ACCC Chair Rod Sims acknowledged the concessions Google had offered, he expressed concerns that they could not be “effectively monitored and enforced in Australia.” The Australian regulator said its investigation would continue, ahead of a new decision date of March 25th, 2021. We’ve reached out to Google for more clarity on the ACCC’s pending approval.

Google announced its acquisition of Fitbit over a year ago in November 2019, when Osterloh called it “an opportunity to invest even more in Wear OS as well as introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market.”

In his letter announcing the acquisition, Park said Fitbit has now sold more than 120 million devices across over 100 countries.

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Entertainment USA

Record All Of Your Workouts With This Fitbit Tracker That’s On Sale For Under $120

If you want to get your fitness goals back on track this year, look no further because this Fitbit smart watch will help you get there & it’s currently on sale for less than $120!

If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, we may receive an affiliate commission. 

Now that the new year is here, what better way to get your health together. Times have been extremely tough due to quarantine and if you feel that your fitness routine has fallen off, have no fear, because we have the perfect way to get yourself back on track and hold yourself accountable. The Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness and Activity Tracker is currently 21% off the retail price of $149.95 so it can be all yours for just $118.95, saving you a whopping $31.

Get the Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness and Activity Tracker here for $118.95.

The watch comes in three different colors – black, gray, and purple, and it tracks every single activity you do. It has a built-in GPS that tracks your pace, distance, and map for your outdoor runs or hikes, plus, it has a heart monitor. Every time you reach your target heart rate, the fitness tracker vibrates to let you know you achieved your goal. It has a 24/7 heart rate monitor that works while you’re resting or when you are active.

When you buy the watch you get a free 90-day trial of Fitbit Premium which gives you workouts and meditations via the Fitbit app. Even better, you can jam out to your favorite songs as it connects to Spotify and other apps, as well as your cellphone, so you can answer calls or respond to texts.

On top of all of this, you can track how many calories you burn, plus, it’s swim-proof and water-resistant so you can wear it swimming or while you sweat. No matter what workout you’re doing, the tracker has over 20 exercise modes to choose from so you can record just about everything.

Unlike other smart watches, this tracker lasts up to seven days with the rechargeable battery, plus, five full hours while using the GPS. Even better, it tracks your sleep patterns to see how well you’re resting and what you can do to improve. This deal is just too good and you have to act fast if you want to score this amazing price!

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Tech News

Fitbit Sense Users Getting Replacements for ECG Issue: Report


Fitbit Sense smartwatch users having issues with ECG functionality can reportedly get replacements from the company. The issue seems to be hardware-related and according to the company, only affects a small number of users that it said it has contacted. A user shared on the Fitbit forum, an email received from the company that says a “hardware issue with your device that could affect its ability to work properly”. While the email does not explain what the issue is, Fitbit reportedly confirmed that it was related to ECG feature.

Fitbit Sense was launched in August and is the first smartwatch from the company to come with ECG functionality. Now, as per a report by The Verge, Fitbit has shared that due to some hardware issue, the ECG app on less than 900 Sense models can display an “inconclusive” result during readings. The company also shared that future Sense smartwatch models or any other Fitbit device have not had and will not have this issue.

In a reported statement to 9to5Google, Fitbit said, “We have found an issue in a very limited subset of our initial Fitbit Sense shipments — a few hundred devices globally — that could cause the ECG App to default to an ‘Inconclusive’ result during readings. We are able to identify the impacted devices upon set up and are immediately reaching out to these users to provide them with a new replacement device free of charge.”

The company is said to be contacting affected users and one of the Fitbit Sense users shared an email from the company on the official forums. “We identified a hardware issue with your device that could affect its ability to work properly. Please return the device to us. We’ll provide you with a prepaid return label. To ensure the best possible Fitbit experience, we’re providing you with a replacement free of charge. Please keep all original accessories, such as your charging cable and band. You’ll receive a replacement device only,” the email reads.

Fitbit Sense recently got Fitbit OS 5.1 update with support for Google Assistant and improvements to blood-oxygen monitoring features.


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Technology US

Fitbit is replacing some Sense smartwatches over ECG reading issue

Fitbit is contacting some owners of its Sense smartwatch to offer replacements after discovering a bug affecting its electrocardiogram (ECG) readings. Users on the Fitbit forums have reported receiving emails from the company, warning that their devices are affected by an unspecified “hardware issue.” Fitbit has subsequently confirmed to The Verge that the issue specifically affects its ECG functionality. The emails ask affected users to return the smartwatch to Fitbit, and says they will be given a replacement device free of charge.

Along with stress detection and temperature tracking, the Fitbit Sense’s ECG app is one of its major differentiating features compared to Fitbit’s other recent smartwatch; the Versa 3. The ECG feature is meant to allow the watch to read the wearer’s heart rhythm for problems like atrial fibrillation. Although it wasn’t available when we reviewed the smartwatch back in September, Fitbit rolled out its ECG app the following month.

When contacted for comment, a Fitbit UK spokesperson confirmed the issue to The Verge, and said that the problem affects the ECG app on a limited number of Sense devices. The problem means the app can incorrectly display an “inconclusive” result during readings. Fitbit has also confirmed that no other devices, or future Sense smartwatches shipments, are affected by the issue and said it is contacting affected users directly to issue replacements.

The $329.95 Fitbit Sense has had a bit of a rough launch. Some of its most impressive features weren’t available in time for our review, and what was left could be buggy to use. But so far Fitbit has shown it’s willing to address these issues. It’s released updates to add new features like the ECG app and support for Google Assistant, and now it’s proactively replacing devices with faulty hardware. In our review we said Fitbit needed to take some time to work out the Sense’s kinks, and it appears to be doing just that.

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Tech News

Japan Says It Will Join US, Europe in Regulating Big Tech Firms


Japan will join forces with the United States and Europe to take on any market abuses by the four Big Tech companies, the new head of its antitrust watchdog said on Monday, a sign Tokyo will join global efforts to regulate digital platform operators.

Kazuyuki Furuya, chairman of Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC), also said Tokyo could open a probe into any merger or business tie-up involving fitness tracker maker Fitbit if the size of such deals are big enough.

“If the size of any merger or business-tie up is big, we can launch an anti-monopoly investigation into the buyer’s process of acquiring a start-up (like Fitbit),” he told Reuters. “We’re closely watching developments including in Europe.”

EU antitrust regulators in August launched an investigation into a $2.1 billion (roughly Rs. 15,402 crores) deal by Alphabet unit Google’s bid to buy Fitbit that aimed to take on Apple and Samsung in the wearable technology market.

Japan is laying the groundwork to regulate platform operators. Among them are big tech giants dubbed “GAFA,” Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon that face various antitrust probes in western nations.

Multi-national companies like GAFA have similar business practices across the globe, which makes global coordination crucial, Furuya said.

“We’ll work closely with our US and European counterparts, and respond if to any moves that hamper competition,” he said.

“This is an area I will push through aggressively,” he said, adding the FTC was ready to open probes if digital platformers abuse their dominant market positions against consumers.

Furuya, who assumed the post in September, also said the FTC would conduct research into Japan’s mobile phone market to see whether there is any room for improvement to spur competition.

Any such move would help Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s push to slash Japan’s mobile phone charges, which he has repeatedly criticised as too high.

Furuya countered the view that helping the government meet its policy priorities could undermine the FTC’s position as a body mandated to act independently from political meddling.

“If there’s a policy priority for the government, there’s no doubt the FTC should think about what it can do on that front,” Furuya said.

“By participating in the government’s debate on policy issues, we have been reflecting our thinking in the process. This is something our organisation should do.”

© Thomson Reuters 2020


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Tech News

Google Said to Sweeten Fitbit Concessions, Heading for EU Approval


Alphabet unit Google has tweaked its concessions aimed at allaying EU antitrust concerns about its $2.1 billion (roughly Rs. 15,400 crores) purchase of Fitbit, people familiar with the matter said, putting it on course to secure EU approval for the deal.

The world’s most popular Internet search engine last month offered to restrict the use of Fitbit data for Google ads, facilitate rival makers of wearables seeking to connect to the Android platform and allow third parties’ continued access to Fitbit users’ data with their consent.

Google revised the package after the European Commission received feedback from rivals and consumers, the people said, declining to provide details. The move also helps to stave off a possible EU charge sheet setting out specific concerns.

The EU competition enforcer has to date not sought further feedback from the market, indicating that the changes have likely passed muster with the Commission.

It was earlier reported that EU antitrust regulators have extended their investigation into Fitbit to December 23.

The EU competition enforcer kicked off a full-scale probe into the deal in August, saying Google’s pledge not to use Fitbit’s data for advertising purposes was insufficient to address competition concerns.

“The Commission extended the deadline in agreement with the parties,” the EU executive said in an email.

Google has said the combination of its and Fitbit’s hardware would boost competition in the sector where players include Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, and others.

“Our investigation aims to ensure that control by Google over data collected through wearable devices as a result of the transaction does not distort competition,” said European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, who also is the EU’s competition commissioner.

© Thomson Reuters 2020


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Entertainment USA

Amazon Prime Day Deal: Keep Your Fitness Goals On Track With This Fitbit Smart Scale For Just $34


Commit to your fitness journey with this Fitbit bluetooth digital body weight and BMI smart scale! You’ll save 30% on this incredible Amazon Prime Day deal!

If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, we may receive an affiliate commission.

It’s time to put your health first! This $34 Fitbit Aria Bluetooth Digital Body Weight & BMI Smart Scale will help to keep your fitness goals on track with its advanced and innovative technology. This rare, low price is courtesy of Amazon Prime Day, a 48-hour shopping event with epic deals and steals on top designer brands in fashion, beauty, electronics and beyond. Prime Day 2020 kicked off at 12 a.m. on October 13, and runs straight through until midnight on October 14. — So, what’re you waiting for?

Founded in 2007, Fitbit is dedicated to health and fitness by building products that help transform people’s lives. Fitbit’s mission is to empower and inspire you to live a healthier, more active life. It’s a brand that’s well known and respected in the fitness industry, so there’s no need to question the quality of this amazing smart scale.

This easy-to-use smart scale displays your weight (in pounds, kilograms or stones) on its digital backlit LCD display screen at the top of the scale. This Fitbit scale syncs stats to your Fitbit app using bluetooth wireless technology, where you can view BMI, track trends over time and more. Additionally it allows multiple users to track their stats when their phone is connected to the scale. 

This Fitbit bluetooth scale has a thin design, which makes it easy for packing and travel. It comes in crisp white and black for a sleek, modern look and includes Aria Air Bluetooth Smart Scale 3 AAA batteries. Fitbit’s warning label includes the following message: Do not use if you have a pacemaker or other internal medical device, or are pregnant. Not intended for use by children under 13. Always consult your physician.



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Big Story

“I wanted to be a nurse…” reveals Sunny Leone


It’s tough to find something new on the most Googled actor in the world. But a little bit of prodding reveals that Sunny Leone was studying to be a paediatric nurse when she got lured away by showbiz. Irrespective of her upbringing in a Western environment, she says she is a complete Punjabi at heart who loves aloo ke paranthe and can die for golgappe. Despite her past, Sunny being accepted by Indian audiences, and today being looked at as an actor and a devoted mother of three on her social media feed, is no mean feat indeed!

List three things nobody knows about you.

I paint. Second, I cook, clean and take care of my household and my children, all by myself, right now. And, I love doing things by myself.

One relationship rule that you always follow…?

To be honest, always.

What’s the theme song of your life?

Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off.

Are you a romantic or a realist?

I’m a realist.

What gets you in the mood for love?

It just happens and that’s the way love works.

One advice you’d give your 10-year-old self…?

Don’t let your mom pick your clothes!

Describe yourself in a hashtag.

#IAmASurvivor

Bedside stories

What’s your favourite breakfast in bed?

Pancakes, for sure!

What’s on your bedside table?

My Fitbit, my phone and a bunch of wires!

What do you wear to bed?

A T-shirt.

And your preferred side of the bed?

Right.

Book you’re going to curl up with tonight…?

How to Escape an Insane Asylum: My Story on Mental Health by Brian Carpenter.

This or that

Ranbir Kapoor or Ranveer Singh?

Ranbir Kapoor

Big party or small gathering?

Small gathering

Money or fame?

Money

From HT Brunch, October 11, 2020

Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch

Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch





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Tech News

Google Said to Be Set to Win EU Okay for Fitbit Deal With Fresh Concessions


Alphabet’s Google is set to win EU antitrust approval for its $2.1 billion (roughly Rs. 15,489 crores) acquisition of fitness tracker maker Fitbit with its latest concessions to address EU antitrust concerns, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Google has offered to restrict the use of Fitbit data, reinforcing an earlier offer to the European Commission, the people said.

It has also offered to make it easier for rival makers of wearable devices to connect to Google’s Android platform by offering them access to the Android application programming interface (API), they said.

The Commission, which is scheduled to decide on the deal by December 23 and did not publish details of the concessions in line with its policy, declined to comment.

The EU competition enforcer will now seek feedback from rivals and customers before deciding whether to accept the concessions, demand more, or either clear or block the detail.

Last month, it rejected Google’s pledge not to use the fitness tracker’s data for advertising purposes in a bid to address competition concerns, saying that it was insufficient.

The Commission recently asked Google rivals and customers about interoperability issues, what technical steps Google could take to foreclose competition to Fitbit to increase its sales, and what could prompt it to do so, according to a person familiar with the matter.

It also asked about issues related to digital healthcare and the kind of data Google needs, and where the US company could acquire it, the person said, suggesting concessions may be needed in these two areas.

Healthcare providers, wearables rivals and privacy advocates have criticised the deal.

Fitbit has a 3 percent share of the global wearables market as of the first quarter of 2020, lagging behind Apple’s 29.3 percent share, as well as Xiaomi, Samsung and Huawei, data from market research firm International Data showed.

© Thomson Reuters 2020


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Tech News

Fitbit OS 5.0 Launched Exclusively for Sense, Versa 3


Fitbit OS 5.0 has been launched for Fitbit Sense and Versa 3. Fitbit’s latest software comes with changes in user interface (UI) and navigational updates, but will only be available for the above mentioned smartwatches, for which it was exclusively developed. Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa 3 were launched in August and are priced at Rs. 34,999 and Rs. 26,499, respectively. The company’s old smartwatches, including the Versa 2, are not eligible for the SDK 5.0 software.

Fitbit OS 5.0 features

Fitbit OS 5.0 is the company’s biggest and most impactful smartwatch update since the launch of Fitbit Ionic in 2017, as per Fitbit.

“Fitbit OS 5.0 has been developed exclusively for Versa 3 and Sense, and there are no plans to bring this to older devices. Fitbit OS 5.0 includes UI enhancements and new experiences that are optimized for the new custom display and speaker on Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa 3,” stated the company in a blog post.

The latest navigation update in OS 5.0 for Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa 3 will let users swipe from left to right to take them a step backwards. Pressing the left side button will take users back to the clock face.

Fitbit OS 5.0 comes with Raiju, a new system font that’s more space-efficient

The visual design update introduces Raiju, a new system font that’s more space-efficient and easier to read. Fitbit says that all the elements – buttons, backgrounds, icons, colors, titles – have received significant visual improvements as well. Fitbit OS 5.0 includes adjustments to the base text size, button size, and tap targets in order to make the device easier to use while running.

Developers will be required to update existing projects, or built new ones to support Fitbit OS 5.0 for Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa. The company said that developers cannot build a single app that targets Fitbit OS 4.0 and Fitbit OS 5.0 devices, but they can release different versions for each OS version that will reach the intended devices.

Versa 2, Versa, Versa Lite and Fitbit Ionic will not be receiving the latest update, and will continue to use Fitbit OS 4.


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