ReadWriteBody is an ongoing series where ReadWrite covers networked fitness and the quantified self.
Apple has some competition in the digital-fitness space, now that Google has launched Google Fit, its Android answer to the iPhone’s built-in Health app.
The problem is that Apple and Google seem to be competing for who can come up with the buggiest fitness software.
See also: Apple’s Health App Is An Embarrassment
This summer, both Apple and Google unveiled ways for developers to tap into sensors and connect fitness apps together to share data like steps walked, calories burned, and other measurements of activity and health.
Apple’s HealthKit, as it called its software tools for developers, had a messy launch in September. Apple abruptly yanked HealthKit-compatible apps from the App Store, and took weeks to fix the bugs. After all that, Apple’s Health app, which took in data from apps using HealthKit, was a screaming disappointment.
Google Fit, which is the name of both an Android app and Google’s tools for fitness-app developers, looks more polished. For one thing, there’s a Web version of Google Fit, a glaring omission from Apple’s iPhone-only system. That means you can record fitness data on your Android smartphone or smartwatch, and then review it on a desktop or tablet—a scenario Apple doesn’t currently allow.
But right now, Google Fit does very, very little. It’s far from the “complete picture of [a] user’s fitness” that Google promised this summer.
Unlike Apple Health, it doesn’t dabble in anything medical—it’s a fitness-only app. So you can record steps and exercise—but only if it’s walking, running, or biking. And you can update your weight. That’s it.
Many Android smartwatches now capture biological signals like heart rate. Google Fit doesn’t currently display any of that data.
Unleash The Fit Apps
Neither Google Fit nor Apple Health are meant to upstage other fitness apps. But Google Fit hasn’t launched with any partner apps. On the official announcement of Fit, Michelle Haq, an associate product manager, has left apologetic comments explaining that the partners Google trumpeted in its post, like Strava, Withings, and Runtastic, haven’t actually introduced their Fit-compatible apps yet. (The language of the post suggested those apps were immediately available.)
Other users reported problems syncing activity data from Android Wear smartwatches to Google Fit, with some reporting losing all of their data in the process.
Yes, it’s newly released software. But Google Fit has spent months in “preview” testing, and Google engineers made lofty promises about Fit’s potential at the company’s I/O conference.
After all this time, and all the promises Google made, Android users are owed something more than step-counting software that duplicates what they can do in apps like MyFitnessPal and Fitbit.
Lead photo courtesy of Shutterstock