Google Fit is one of Google’s initiatives that made a lot of sense on paper, but has yet to really pay off. There are a few apps that integrate the API very deeply into their functionality, but for the most part, there seem to be a few features that are lacking when you compare it to the competition. The recent release of the Apple Watch showed just that, with the health monitoring feature receiving high praise for the number of stats it tracked and how integrated it seemed with the whole ecosystem. It looks like Google has been paying attention, because the latest Google Fit update adds all those features, and throws in a few extras that make the wait worthwhile.
Health monitors are all the rage right now, and seem to be one of the favorite features of wearable devices. While smartwatches do a lot of things, there are also popular health monitors that don’t do as much, but still have a dedicated userbase. When Google first introduced Google Fit, it was a great start, but as time went on it quickly became evident that it wasn’t going to be competitive with similar services any time soon. While the user experience was great, and the monitoring app was really cool and well-designed, in terms of features it did little else other than track your activity time and number of steps. Obvious features like calorie estimation where left out, as we expected them to come shortly after.
Now, it’s time to finally bring them over, and they come with a few pleasant surprises. As the title mentions, the newest features introduced to Google Fit are a calorie estimation meter, which profiles how many calories you have burned based on your gender and build; a distance tracker, which measures how many miles you have traveled so far; and it also integrates basal metabolic rate estimation, which tries to calculate how many calories you are burning while not performing any activity.
These are features that have been requested by the users of the service for a long time, and which many alternatives already provided for the most part. Google’s integration seems, as usual, pretty elegant, and the new stats show up whenever they are relevant in the updated app. One cool little extra that Google threw into the newest update is a brand new watch face for Android Wear, which shows you the activity stats you currently have logged into the app in real-time, and integrates with the goals you set in the app as well. To be honest, it’s one of the better-looking watch faces out of Android Wear, and it’s something that actually offers some functionality. Seeing your physical activity stats for the day right there in your wrist is useful information, and lets you know if you’re behind on the goals you have set.
This is a welcomed update, but it’s pretty disappointing that it took this long to finally come out. Google, for better or worse, pioneered modern wearable devices with Android Wear, and it had a real opportunity to do some damage and set a few trends if it happened to have been more proactive about the products it released. This update, while great and functional, comes almost a year after the product launched. That’s a really long time to implement a few trivial features, and it shows that Google doesn’t seem to consider this a product worth actively maintaining, which is disappointing. Of course, this is the best version of Google Fit yet, and it’s still a really solid choice for tracking your fitness data – but it seems to be treated as a second-rate product, and that’s not nice for something that is supposed to engage with users on a personal level and be reliable with the info it gathers.