Update: January 29, 2021: We have updated this Google Fit guide with details on a recent redesign, built-in workout videos, and sleep tracking metrics. Details below.
Google Fit is the fitness app for the rest of us. It’s not the app that doubles as a social network or offers weekly fitness challenges. Instead, Google Fit focuses on simplicity and doing a few core things really well.
There are benefits and downsides to that approach, all of which we’ll explore in our comprehensive Google Fit guide.
Google Fit profile & navigating the app
Fitness apps can be hit or miss — some are overly packed with features and require a learning curve while others have an intuitive design but not many features. Google Fit falls in the latter category. Depending on what type of user you are, you’ll either think Google Fit is the best thing ever or way too simple for what you need.
Also read: The best fitness apps for Android | The best fitness apps for iOS
Once you tell Google Fit a little about yourself (gender, date of birth, weight, and height), you’ll see a quick walkthrough of the app’s two main activity metrics: Move Minutes and Heart Points (more on these later). After that, you’ll find yourself on the app’s home screen.
There are three main sections of the Google Fit app: Home, Journal, and Profile. A brief description of each can be found below:
- Home: The Home screen shows an overview of your current day’s activities and health metrics, including Move Minutes and Heart Points, steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled, heart rate data, weight, recent workouts, sleep, and instructional videos from YouTube.
- Journal: The Journal could also be referred to as a schedule or an agenda. It’s a simple, scrollable list of all your recorded activities, whether that be a short walk or a long swim.
- Profile: The Profile page is where you’ll adjust your Move Minutes and Heart Points, as well as personal information.
Head back to the Home tab and click on the big profile widget on the top. This will take you to a summary of your daily, weekly, and monthly activity stats in the form of Move Minutes and Heart Points. If you scroll through your history and want more details on your activity stats for that day, click on the day and you’ll find all your recorded activities. From there, you can click on an individual activity to see more minute details like distance, steps, calories, and pace metrics.
There’s also a small floating action button on the bottom-right that lets you manually track a workout or add an activity, weight measurement, or blood pressure reading.
Google Fit also has a dark mode. If you have an Android phone with an OLED display, dark mode will help save a bit of battery life. Dark mode is found throughout every screen in Google Fit. Everywhere you click, you’ll see a dark grey background with bright green and blue accents.
Move Minutes and Heart Points
Google Fit approaches things differently from other fitness apps. You can still check up on common metrics like your heart rate and step count, but Google Fit combines your activity metrics to make them mean something. For instance, you might see that your lunch walk took around 22 minutes to complete, but what does that mean for your overall health? How does it affect you? And what goals do you need to meet to stay healthy?
Google worked with the American Heart Association to create two goals based on the Heart Association’s activity recommendations. The results are Move Minutes and Heart Points.
- Move Minutes: Move Minutes is another way to say “active time.” You earn Move Minutes for every bit of physical activity you do, including walks, runs, swims, and yoga.
- Heart Points: Heart Points are earned when you perform activities at a higher pace. You earn one Heart Point per minute of moderately intense exercise, like from a swift walk. You also earn double Heart Points if you’re taking part in more intense activities like a long run.
Google’s goal with Move Minutes and Heart Points is to make the results of exercising easier to understand. It’s a different approach to what other fitness apps offer, but that’s not a bad thing. It just means that if you’re already used to tracking your fitness with another app, you may not want to dive right into Google Fit. However, the focus on Move Minutes and Heart Points is a seriously valuable way to go about teaching users how to stay healthy. Like I said — it’s the fitness app for the rest of us.
Apps compatible with Google Fit
Google Fit is its own app. Why would you want to connect it with another fitness app? There are a few reasons.
Let’s say you use a Garmin device for tracking your workouts through an app like Strava, but you really love Google Fit’s Move Minutes and Heart Points metrics. If you connect your Google Fit account to Strava, your fitness data will automatically transfer over to Google Fit.
You also might want to connect Google Fit to another app if you’re using a Wear OS device. As we’ve already discussed, Google’s fitness app isn’t the most versatile app out there. So, if you want to keep track of your activity in a more powerful app like Runkeeper, connecting your Google Fit account to a third-party app will do the trick.
What apps are compatible with Google Fit? Check out some of the most popular Google Fit-compatible apps below:
- Calorie Counter – Asken Diet
- Lost It!
- Under Armour Record
- Workout Trainer
- Nike Run Club
- Pokémon Go
- Runtastic Results Fitness & Home Workouts
- MyFitnessPal – Calorie Counter
- 8fit Workouts & Meal Planner
- Run with Map My Run
- Map My Fitness Workout Trainer
- Walk with Map My Walk
- Drink Water Reminder
- Sleep As Android
- Daily Yoga
- Dreem Coach
- Polar Flow
- Clue Period Tracker
- Moto Body
- Monitor Your Weight
- Runtastic PRO
- Calorie Counter by FatSecret
- Instant Heart Rate
- Instant Heart Rate Plus
- Withings Health Mate
- Map My Ride
- Seven – 7 Minute Workout
- Progression Workout Tracker
- Weight Track Assistant
- Runtastic Steps
- PlexFit for Pebble
- SmartBand Talk SWR30
- SmartBand 2 SWR12
- Glow: Fertility Calculator
- Instant – Quantified Self, Track Digital Wellbeing
You can also schedule recurring exercises with Google Fit through Google Calendar. To do so, open Google Calendar, tap the “+” button on the bottom-right corner, then tap Exercise. From there, you can choose which exercises you’d like to schedule (run, walk, yoga, hike, etc.), how often you’d like the exercise to recur, the duration of your exercise, and what time of day you’d like to exercise.
If you live and die by Google Calendar (like me), this is a great way to integrate it into your schedule.
Devices compatible with Google Fit
A number of fitness and health devices are compatible with Google Fit, most of them being Wear OS smartwatches. Google Fit is the default fitness app for Wear OS devices (unless a company includes its own fitness app), so you can expect to use Google Fit if you pick up a Wear OS smartwatch.
Every Wear OS smartwatch is compatible with Google Fit, though the data the app records will depend on which watch you’re using. For instance, Google Fit won’t be able to record heart rate data if you’re using a Wear OS device without a heart rate sensor, such as the older Skagen Falster. If your Wear OS watch doesn’t have a heart rate sensor but you happen to own a standalone heart rate sensor (such as a chest strap or arm band), you can connect that device to Google Fit to see your heart rate data.
Other non-Wear OS devices work with Google Fit too, though there are far fewer of them. Here are our favorite Google Fit-compatible devices:
If you own a Fitbit device and would like your fitness data transferred over to Google Fit, there’s a third-party app for that, but no official way of connecting your accounts from the Fitbit app itself. We expect this to change in due time, as Fitbit is now owned by Google.
Do you need the Google Fit app if you already own a Google Fit-compatible device?
Nope, but you won’t get the best experience that way. Smartwatches and fitness trackers don’t have big screens, making it more difficult to view detailed activity information. Installing the Google Fit app on your phone will ensure you’re getting the most data in the best way possible. You can learn more about that here.
Also, if you want to connect your Google Fit account to another fitness app that’s not available on your watch, you’ll need to download the Google Fit app on your phone.
The future of Google Fit
As of right now, we aren’t entirely sure what’s to come of Google Fit now that Fitbit is part of Team Google. Hell — we aren’t even sure what’s to come of Google’s own smartwatch operating system, Wear OS, now that all of Fitbit’s hardware and software teams are part of Google.
Although Google has been sporadically adding features to Google Fit, Fitbit has a much more feature-rich and popular fitness platform. If anything, we’d expect Google to shutter Google Fit in a few years’ time and transition everything over to Fitbit’s platform. That’s speculation on our part though, so we’ll need to wait and see what Google has in store.
What’s missing from Google Fit?
Google Fit’s strengths lie in its simplicity. Essentially, it’s the app version of a basic activity tracker; it keeps track of your simplest health metrics and not much more.
The main aspect missing from Google Fit is any kind of social platform. Other popular fitness apps, like Fitbit or Strava, put an emphasis on community. Being able to reach out to a community of like-minded people to help you along your fitness journey can be extremely helpful in certain situations. Fitbit’s app, for instance, lets you join health and fitness groups, post status updates and photos, comment on posts, and ask for advice if you need it. Strava focuses more on activity progression and staying up to date on how your friends are performing. None of that is available in Google Fit.
Also read: Fitbit vs Garmin: Which ecosystem is right for you?
The app also lacks any training programs. This is certainly an advanced feature that not all fitness apps have, but it’s worth bringing up. The closest thing Google Fit offers is customized links to workout videos on YouTube.
Google Fit also doesn’t display progress over time for certain activities. You can’t click on a running activity and see how you’ve progressed over the previous weeks or months. You can do this with weight, heart rate, Move Minutes, and Heart Points, but not with exercises.
There’s also no food or water logging in Google Fit, though you can keep track of your weight.
Some of these things would be excusable if there was a Google Fit website that gave users more options and features (some apps push the more advanced features to the web to keep the mobile apps cleaner). Unfortunately, Google shuttered the Google Fit web interface in February 2019, so the app is all you get.
Overall, Google Fit is a solid start to what could one day be a powerful fitness application. For right now, it’s simple, clean, and it’s compatible with a ton of other fitness and health apps. Also, Move Minutes and Heart Points are genuinely useful metrics that will no doubt help people get and stay healthy. Whether Google Fit is the app for you will likely depend on what type of athlete you are and whether or not you’re already invested in another app.
Next: The best Fitbit alternatives: Garmin, Misfit, Samsung, and more