Technology

Google will start assimilating Fitbit accounts next year

Google’s acquisition of Fitbit was completed in early 2021, but we haven’t seen many changes yet. 9to5Google saw a big upcoming change on the Fitbit help site: account migrations! A new Fitbit help page has outlined the plan for the upcoming Google account migration. If this becomes anything like Nest account migrations (run by the same Google Hardware division), Fitbit users are in for a wild ride.

Google’s support page says, “We plan to enable the use of Fitbit with a Google account sometime in 2023” and that at that time “some forms of Fitbit require a Google account, including to sign up for it.” for Fitbit or to activate newly released Fitbit devices and Features.” That means optional account migrations for existing users in 2023. Google also says, “Fitbit account support will continue through at least early 2025. After Fitbit account support ends, a Google account will be required to use Fitbit. We will be transparent with our customers about the Fitbit account termination timeline through notifications in the Fitbit app, email, and help articles.”

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Merging accounts, of course, means that Google will get your health data. Google says that “you must consent to the transfer of your Fitbit user data from Fitbit to Google” and that “Google will then provide you with Fitbit subject to Fitbit’s terms of service, privacy policy and binding obligations.” Part of those EU commitments, which Google has applied to the world, is that “Google will not use Fitbit health and wellness data for Google Ads.”

Google’s sales pitch on why you might want to transfer says: “Google accounts on Fitbit support a number of benefits for Fitbit users, including a single login for Fitbit and other Google services, industry-leading account security, centralized privacy controls for Fitbit user data, and more features from Google.” on Fitbit.” But really, with Fitbit’s bail bond mandated by 2025, resistance is pointless.

Let’s hope this goes better than Nest

The closest experience we have to these major account migrations is Google’s handling of Nest accounts in 2019. That was (and still is) a very bumpy road. After coexisting for years after Google’s acquisition of Nest in 2014, Google decided to end Nest accounts after five years and migrate everyone to a Google account. You weren’t forced to switch, but not switching just meant a slow death to your account, as you weren’t allowed to add new devices and you wouldn’t get any new features. The account move ultimately changed a lot about how Nest works and what Nest works with, introducing regressions such as the loss of location-based thermostat control for several months, the breaking of existing compatibility with third-party apps, and the death of the “Works with Nest” ecosystem . This also marked the end of Google’s storage of Nest data from all of Google’s other data collection.

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Nest still hasn’t really recovered from its Google verification. The original Nest app is still being beaten to death with the “not invented here” stick, and Google wants everyone (and some products forcibly) to switch to the Google Home app. However, Google’s app is a disorganized dump for every smart home product from Google and is easily the company’s worst and most incomprehensible app. It’s still not complete with the Nest app, and you don’t have to go far to find angry customers. Google also doesn’t provide a web interface for anything, while home.nest.com previously provided web functionality for thermostats and cameras. Google has owned Nest for seven years and still hasn’t figured it out.

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So far, the only difference we’ve seen with the Google/Fitbit team is that the Fitbit branding is giving way to the “Fitbit by Google” branding. If we follow the example of history and assume that Google doesn’t learn from its mistakes, Fitbit’s transition matches Nest’s very nicely. We envision the Fitbit app and website being hit with the same “not invented here” stick and Google Fit taking over as the new Fitbit companion app (Google Fit no longer has a functional website). Fitbit has a lot of integration with other services, but that will probably need to be ported over to a Google API like the Google Fit API. Of course, that means some functionality survives, some functionality is lost completely, and some developers aren’t willing to take the plunge and recode previously working integrations. Brace yourself!

Google says more information will be available closer to the 2023 launch date.

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