Google’s revamp simplifies its tracking program, which it first launched in 2014 as a competitor to Apple’s HealthKit. Apple’s three-ring design — which tracks and sets goals for daily movement, exercise and time spent standing — has made the pursuit of closing those rings an obsession for some Apple Watch fans. So far, Google Fit hasn’t drawn the same sort of devotion.
Tapping the health and fitness market is a priority for Apple and Google, which both consider movement and health tracking as a key selling point for their wearable devices. It’s also proven a key area for partnerships among Google, Apple and the growing industry of health and wellness apps that rely on smartphone sensors to track activity.
The redesign aims to have people “move more and sit less,” wrote Margaret Hollendoner, senior product manager of Google Fit, in a company blog post. Unlike the previous design — which would track, for example, walking, running and biking as separate categories — there are now only two main metrics. People will earn credit for every “move minute” they log, which tracks lower-intensity movement like walking. Fit rewards more rigorous activities such as biking, running or other workouts with something called “Heart Points.” A lower-key workout such as a brisk walk generates one point per minute, while an intense workout counts as two.
The company will use your phone or wearable device to figure out when you’re on the move. “Google Fit will automatically detect these activities using your phone or watch sensors — like the accelerometer and GPS — to estimate the number of Heart Points you earn,” Hollendoner said. People can also manually tell the app if they’re doing activities that are more difficult to detect, such as Pilates or gardening. The goal is to achieve an amount of activity equivalent to at least 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week, in line with AHA and WHO recommendations.
As with the original version of Fit, the app will be able to draw data from other, more popular fitness apps such as the dieting app MyFitnessPal or running tracker Strava.
Fit will be available for all Android devices and any watch that has Google’s Wear OS, such as those from Fossil, LG and Huawei. Those who use it already should see the changes roll out from this week.