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Wearables in 2017: the year in review

We take a look at the biggest changes in wearables over the last 12 months, and see what 2018 could have to offer

Wearables in 2017: the year in review

2017 was a year of ups and downs for wearables manufacturers. New products arrived in quick succession – alongside lawsuits and liquidations.

Most recently Adidas announced the somewhat surprising news that it is cutting the Digital Sports part of its business, and it’s not the only brand to reassess its place in the wearables market in 2017.

Here we take a trip down memory lane, and look forward to 2018. You can find out who the wearable washouts were in 2017, and what we’re hoping to see from the big names, such as Apple and Fitbit, this year.

Best Buy fitness watches and activity trackers – find out which models have impressed us.

Wearable washouts

According to a report in Women’s Wear Daily, Adidas has closed its Digital Sports division, the part of the business responsible for activity trackers and other wearable products. Earlier in 2017, it looked as though Adidas was firming up plans to launch the Chameleon tracker, which was going to focus on women who want to get fit.

While it looks as though there will be no Adidas-made fitness watches or activity trackers, that doesn’t rule out further advancements into software. The popular Runtastic app is produced by Adidas, for example. There are also rumours of partnerships with other manufacturers, including an Adidas version of the Fitbit Ionic.

In July, we reported on the liquidation of activity tracker brand Jawbone. The company was reportedly planning to shift focus from consumer services to clinical and health care options, which looks likely given that Jawbone co-founder and CEO Hosain Rahman has founded a new company called Jawbone Health Hub. Since the summer, there have been very few details surrounding the new Health Hub, aside from some job adverts for the new platform.

Jawbone was also going through legal proceedings against Fitbit, which were brought in 2016. Jawbone accused Fitbit of stealing trade secrets from former Jawbone employees. In December 2017, the two parties finally reached an agreement. Perhaps this means that Jawbone will now focus on the Health Hub, but that’s little comfort for current Jawbone product owners, who have experienced a lack of technical support since the beginning of 2017.

In October 2017, TomTom revealed that it was officially taking a step back from wearables after disappointing sales. A statement was issued confirming that it would reorganise parts of its Consumer Sports business – the division responsible for wearables development – and make 136 roles redundant. According to the statement, a new strategy would focus on building on its position in the navigation technologies market – for example, with TomTom sat navs.

The latest TomTom wearable products, including the Spark 3 Cardio + Music and Runner 3 Cardio + Music, are still available, and customer support is ongoing. There will be no new TomTom fitness watches or activity trackers for the time being, though.

2018 wearable predictions

The latest Apple Watch, the Series 3, was released in September 2017 and almost immediately people began speculating over when the next version would arrive and what it would bring. The last two years have seen Apple Watch launches landing in September, so if another device comes along then it looks likely it will be in September 2018.

The Series 3 GPS + Cellular was the first Apple Watch with 4G or mobile connectivity, meaning you don’t need your smartphone nearby to make and receive calls or text messages. But even before launch, the Series 3 was beleaguered by issues with connectivity and battery life. In an unprecedented move, Apple even released a statement to address the problems.

We suspect that during 2018 Apple will concentrate on refining the cellular connectivity feature for the Series 3, as well as cementing its health and fitness focus. With the next Apple Watch, we’d like to see a design overhaul, alongside sleep-tracking capabilities being included, and longer battery life.

In 2017, Fitbit launched its first smartwatch, the Fitbit Ionic. While the Ionic launched to much fanfare, reports suggest that they haven’t been flying off the shelves. On Wall Street in December, Fitbit’s stock was switched from ‘hold’ to ‘sell’, which is a relatively rare occurrence.

This may not mean an end to Fitbit’s smartwatch ambitions, and the Ionic is being regularly updated with new features. We hope to see Fitbit focus on core fitness features and release updated versions of some existing activity trackers during 2018. Find out how popular devices like the Fitbit Alta HR and Fitbit Charge 2 performed in our full reviews.

The last two years have been big for Fossil, after it promised to release 300 new products in 2017. We haven’t counted them all, but Fossil did add a slew of new models to its portfolio across brands within the group, including Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches from Michael Kors, Diesel and Armani.

It looks as though Fossil will be making more announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2018, and we’ll be on the front line to bring you all the latest launches and news.

Google is gearing up to launch new wearables, according to tech news site The Information. Google has been busily recruiting engineers in Shanghai, increasing the team from 20 to 150 employees. It is also reportedly working on a variety of products, including Google Pixel phones, Home speakers, as well as wearable devices.

For our pick of the very best products from 2017, head over to our best fitness watches and activity trackers pages.

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