Google Fit update finally adds historical views plus tracking for calories, distance

By Jonah Comstock
10:11 am

Google Fit updateGoogle Fit, a fitness app and data hub often considered to be Google's answer to Apple HealthKit, has added a number of new fitness features in a new update. These features help make Google Fit itself competitive with other dedicated fitness tracking apps.

Specifically, the update adds the ability to track calories burned and distance travelled, provided the user enters their gender, height and weight in the app. Surprisingly, prior to this update, Google Fit only natively tracked steps and time spent walking, running or biking. It depended on third-party apps to track other metrics.

The new update also adds a historical view, which the app didn't have before. Users can group past activities by days, weeks, or months. Finally, Google is also adding a Google Fit widget, which will allow users to see relevant workout stats on their smartphone homescreen without opening the app and an Android Wear watch face, which will allow them to see workout updates on the wrist (an update that should help Android Wear compete against the Apple Watch). The app will slowly be rolled out to Android users on various devices.

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Google announced Google Fit last summer just a few weeks after Apple announced its HealthKit platform for iOS 8. While Apple’s Health app can integrate with — not only wellness tracking apps — but also apps for connected medical devices like glucometers and medication adherence apps, Google Fit is focused squarely on fitness. Similar to Samsung's SAMI platform, Google Fit provides developers with a single set of APIs so that different apps and devices can talk to each other and users can get more context from their various, disparate fitness metrics. 

“Now, before Google Fit, I was trying to track and monitor my bike rides through my bike computer and my weight training through a specialized app,” Google Play Product Manager Ellie Powers said during the initial Google Fit announcement. “And it was a huge hassle. The information was way too siloed to actually help me. Fit takes away the complexity of handling multiple sources, giving you a unified view of a user’s fitness activity. And this helps you create more comprehensive apps. So if a user grants permission, apps can have access to a user’s entire fitness stream to give better recommendations through this additional context.”

Google Fit works with various companies that offer digital health apps and devices including LG, RunKeeper, Polar, Basis, Motorola, MapMyFitness, Asus, Noom, Withings, Adidas, Azumio, Basis and — somewhat surprisingly — even Nike, which has had a longterm relationship with Apple and took a while to launch an Android app. Notably, neither Fitbit nor Jawbone has chosen to integrate with Google Fit yet.


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