Google Fit is an open platform that works across Android devices, iOS devices, and your desktop Chrome browser. But that doesn’t mean all those Google Fit platforms are equal—the app on an Apple Watch won’t do much good if you don’t have one, after all! To help you figure out which of the three options—Android Wear watch, phone app, or web-based interface—works best for you, we’ve put together this Google Fit overview. Let us know what questions you have in the comments section below! The Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Google Fit
1) What is Google Fit?
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Founded by Android co-founder Andy Rubin, Google Fit has been around for nearly two years. The platform was announced at Google’s I/O developer conference in 2014, but has only been available on select Android devices since then. In late 2016, however, it became clear that all Android phones going forward would have a Google Fit app—as well as deep integration with other fitness and health apps.
2) What’s new with Google Fit?
Changes with Google Fit: Over-the-air updates, new apps, and adding more devices. Big news! Over-the-air updates mean that you won’t need to connect your device to a computer in order to receive a software update. This means that when we release an update, it will be available right away. This is important because it makes getting new features much easier for everyone—we don’t have to wait for users who haven’t yet connected their device to a computer (or are unable to do so). We can just push out an update and get everyone on board at once.
3) How does it work with Android?
The app comes with built-in support for devices running Android Marshmallow, but Wear OS watches will also get a dedicated app for Google Fit in 2018. The first smartwatches that’ll run Wear OS 2.0—such as Fossil’s new Skagen Hald—will be able to track your steps and heart rate through Google’s platform. This is something we’ve seen on other smartwatches before (the Apple Watch Series 4, for example), but it’s nice to see it coming from Google directly. Google says its own hardware partners are working on over 50 different Wear OS 2.0 smartwatches at launch, which should help ensure there are plenty of options when they start shipping later this year.
4) How does it differ from Apple HealthKit?
The biggest difference between Apple HealthKit and Google Fit is that one is an app and one is a platform. Apple HealthKit, as its name suggests, collects health data from third-party apps and services; you must have installed those apps for your iPhone or iPad before using HealthKit. Conversely, you don’t need any other apps on your phone to use Google Fit. It’s just there—in fact, it comes preinstalled on every Android phone.
5) Is it compatible with other fitness apps I use?
Yes, it’s compatible with most fitness apps. If you use MyFitnessPal or Endomondo, you’re good to go. Even if you prefer other more niche apps, there are ways to link them with your Google Fit account and merge everything into one cohesive log of how many calories you’ve burned in a day (or week).
6) Does my phone need special sensors for activity tracking?
The short answer here is no, at least not right now. But if you happen to own a newer device with NFC capabilities, then yes! NFC, or near-field communication, allows two devices—your phone and a fitness band like Jawbone UP24 or FitBit One—to talk by bringing them into close proximity of each other.
7) Can I see all my health data in one place?
No. Not yet, at least. Google says its goal is to connect all your existing health apps and devices so you can see it all in one place, but that’s going to take time. For now, you’ll need to use third-party services like MyFitnessPal or Lose It! if you want a complete picture of your health data. The good news is that these apps integrate with Google Fit, and they will soon be able to pull from Google Fit as well. (Google promises more partners are on their way.) In fact, any app developer can build support for their service into Google Fit by using an open software development kit (SDK). But until those integrations roll out—and there’s no timeline for when they will—you won’t have access to every bit of data about your health.
8) Can I choose what appears on my screen when I start the app?
No, you cannot choose what data appears on your screen when you start Google Fit. The first screen is dominated by a gray blob that represents your total step count for today. This means that every time you launch Google Fit, you’ll be reminded of how lazy or active you were yesterday. Kind of defeats the purpose of a fitness tracker if all it does is remind you how inactive you are… At least with Android Wear, I can decide what information I want to see right away.
9) Do I have to get an Android Wear smartwatch for it to work?
Not at all. Even if you don’t own an Android Wear device, Google Fit can still offer you insights into your activity and help you better understand your health. The app will automatically detect when you start walking or running, as well as other activities like cycling or playing tennis. It also integrates with third-party fitness apps like Runkeeper and Strava so that it can pull in data from those services too.
10) Will there be an iOS version of the app anytime soon?
If you’re an Apple user, your question is probably whether or not you can use Google Fit with iOS. The answer is yes. However, there are currently no plans for an iOS app at the moment. Sorry, iPhone users! Your only option right now is to sign in on mobile web.