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Fitbit Charge 6 brings better heart rate tracking and deeper Google integration

Fitbit is rolling out the latest version of its top-of-the-line fitness tracker: the Charge 6. Available Oct. 12 for $159, the Charge 6 comes with updated heart rate tracking that promises improved accuracy during strenuous workouts, and deeper integration with Fitbit parent Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) apps.

The tracker is meant to offer health and fitness tracking capabilities at a comparatively lower price than smartwatches like the Google Pixel Watch, Apple (AAPL) Watch, or Samsung Galaxy Watch, each of which also include tracking features.

The Fitbit Charge 6
The Fitbit Charge 6 features improved heart rate tracking and deeper Google integration. (Fitbit) (Fitbit)

“What we see in our tracker users — it's people who are attracted to the smaller form factor, the much longer battery life, and the more simplicity that comes with that form factor, as well,” Fitbit CEO James Park told Yahoo Finance.

The Charge 6’s biggest upgrade comes in the form of more accurate heart rate tracking. According to Fitbit, the tracker’s sensor is now 60% more accurate during strenuous activities including high-intensity interval training, rowing, and sprinting.

“We took the improvements that we made in [the Google Pixel Watch], which came from a total reimagining of the algorithm to be machine learning-based. And we moved that over to Charge 6. So that resulted in a pretty dramatic improvement in performance over the non-machine-learned algorithm,” Park explained.

The Fitbit Charge 6 on a person's wrist
The Fitbit Charge 6 offers up to seven days of battery life. (Fitbit) (Fitbit)

In addition to an improved tracker, the Charge 6 also comes loaded with a host of features from parent company Google. The tech giant acquired Fitbit in 2021 and has been cross-pollinating its software with Fitbit’s hardware and vice versa.

To that end, the Charge 6 allows you to control YouTube Music, though you’ll need to have a paid YouTube Music Premium subscription. The tracker also includes access to Google Maps, which sports on-device turn-by-turn directions. But don’t expect it to display an entire map.

“When bringing Google Maps to a tracker it's not like you're literally scrolling Maps and searching for stuff. That's not the appropriate experience for a tracker,” Park said.

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Sign up for the Yahoo Finance Tech newsletter. (Yahoo Finance)

The Charge 6 also includes Google Wallet integration so you can grab a bottle of water while you’re out on a run without having to break a $20 — or your stride.

Outside of Google integration, the Charge 6 comes with a continuous electrodermal activity sensor that can detect the changes in electrical resistance from sweat on your skin to help measure stress levels. If the Charge 6 determines that you seem stressed, it will notify you after a few moments and suggest you use a mindfulness activity to help reduce your stress levels.

Naturally, the Charge 6 is designed to work with Fitbit’s Fitbit Premium service, which costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 for a year. Premium is where you can get access to Fitbit’s Readiness Score, which calculates whether your body is set for a day of strenuous exercise, or if you should hold back a bit based on your overall sleep activity, heart rate, and workout intensity from the prior day.

Charge 6 users get six months of Fitbit Premium free.

Daniel Howley is the tech editor at Yahoo Finance. He's been covering the tech industry since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @DanielHowley.

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