Google Fit: Google's health platform and app
What is Google Fit?
Google Fit is a fitness platform and app that aggregates data from all of your devices (smartphone, Android Wear OS smartwatch, fitness tracker), and health and fitness apps into one place. This allows users to view their sleep data from their Wear OS smartwatch with running data from a third party smartphone app and steps taken from a third party fitness tracker. Google Fit syncs directly with Wear OS devices but third party fitness trackers need to sync first with compatible apps. Over 75 different fitness and wellbeing apps are supported. Users can check their fitness progress on the Google Fit website, tablets, smartphones or Wear OS smartwatches. Google Fit app is available as a free download for Android devices running Android 4.0 or later. It comes pre-installed on Android smartphones running Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher but you can uninstall the app if you do not want it. There are ongoing rumours that Google is soon to release an iOS app after Android Wear OS was rebranded as Wear OS in March 2018. This change was made to reflect the fact that 1 in 3 Android Wear users are actually iPhone users, and that wearable devices running Android Wear are also compatible with Apple devices as well.
How does Google Fit work?
Setting up Google Fit is easy and only takes a few steps:
Enter your height, weight and gender
Set your activity goals
Pair Google Fit with compatible Wear OS devices or third party apps or fitness trackers
Google Fit automatically monitors your activity once set up
Configure the app to turn notifications on/off or to list your favourite activities
Edit your activities manually if you forgot to take your smartphone or activity tracker with you exercising or if the Google Fit data is inaccurate for an activity (enter the date, time, duration and activity)
Check your progress over the last day, week, month or longer time periods
What functionality does Google Fit offer?
Users have various functionalities within Google Fit including:
Track activities such as activity times and types, steps taken, calories burned, distance covered, heart rate, pedaling rate or wheel speed
See real time statistics for your runs, walks and rides including your speed, pace, route, elevation and more
Google Fit automatically detects when you’re exercising such as walking, cycling, running
Choose from a list of +120 fitness activities to track from badminton, rowing or yoga
Track these various activities over days, weeks, months or longer
Set goals yourself or set app-recommended goals given your height and weight based on steps, time, distance or calories burned. Receive personalized recommendations and coaching for activity goals
Aggregates information from other apps and devices to track fitness, nutrition, sleep and weight
Which fitness apps are integrated with Google Fit?
Google Fit is integrated with over 75 different third party fitness, nutrition and sleeping apps and devices including:
- Nike+ Run Club
- Under Armour Record
- Workout Trainer
- Instant – Quantified Self
- Moto Body
- 7 Minute Workout
- Noom Coach
- Lose It
- Sleep as Android
- Nokia Health Mate (Withings)
- Wear OS
- Google Calendar
- Activity trackers: Xiaomi, Huawei, Sony
- Various smartwatches: LG, Huawei,
- Other devices: Polar
How does Google Fit differ from Apple’s Healthkit and health app?
Google Fit competes directly with Apple’s HealthKit platform and the Apple Health app. Some key differences between the two platforms include:
Apple’s HealthKit extends beyond Google Fit’s sleep and fitness variables to include medical health data such as blood type, blood alcohol levels, blood glucose, and more
Apple’s HealthKit is built right into iOS and the Apple Watch exclusively supports HealthKit
Google has a wider range of hardware partners than Apple. Android Wear OS devices also work with iOS while Apple’s HealthKit exclusively supports the Apple Watch. Most other big hardware and software firms are supporting both platforms for now
Apple Health and Google Fit both support all the main third party health and fitness apps such as Strava, Withings Health Mate and MapMyFitness however, Fitbit does not work well on either platform. This makes some sense as Fitbit has a strong platform and wants to keep its own users sticky.
What Is the Story Behind Google Fit?
Google Fit was announced at Google’s annual developer conference Google I/O in June 2014, a few months after Apple announced their iOS Health Kit. A standalone Google Fit app was publicly released in October 2014 before being integrated into Android 5.0 Lollipop. Google Fit now comes pre-installed on all new Android OS handsets but you can uninstall the app if you do not want it. There are rumours that Google is soon to release an iOS app as the company announced in March 2018 that it was changing the name of Android Wear to Wear OS. This OS rebranding was designed to reflect that 1 in 3 Android Wear users are actually iPhone users, and that wearable devices running Android Wear are also compatible with Apple devices as well.
I came across Google Fit when I was browsing through the Google Play store looking for new app recommendations. Given the huge number of third party health and fitness apps, and the increasing popularity of activity trackers, it was no surprise that Google developed a platform to aggregate all of this data for Android users. I think in a few years, it will become very common for most smartphone users to track their daily activities 24 hours per day from sleep length and quality, to food consumption to exercise. As Apple have pushed their HealthKit platform into medical health, this will probably be the next direction that Google push the Google Fit platform, besides publishing a standalone Google Fit app for the iPhone.
Thanks for reading! Jeff Elephant
Jeff loves tech, wine, exercise and travel.