2016 was a year of looking inward for most companies making wearables. Big names like Fitbit and Garmin released a handful of totally new products, but most companies focused on making improvements to their existing products. While refinements are not as exciting as brand-new product debuts can be, they show us the direction in which fitness trackers are moving.
This time last year, the open question was if smartwatches and all-purpose devices like the Apple Watch would kill fitness-only devices like those made by Fitbit. Thanks to developments made this year, we can say that both categories will likely survive—mostly because the consumer wearable landscape has expanded to encompass a few distinct categories: the "move more" devices, the serious training devices, and the all-purpose smartwatches. Most of the second- and even third-generation products that came out this year fit into these categories, and there are obvious hits and misses.
We're going to examine each category and where it went in 2016 and then tell you our picks for best and worst device in each—along with our predictions for 2017 and beyond. If you've been waiting for the holiday to pick up a fitness tracker or fancy smart watch, now might be the time!