Google will start assimilating Fitbit accounts next year

The word

Google’s acquisition of Fitbit closed in early 2021, but we haven’t seen many changes yet. 9to5Google has spotted a big upcoming change posted on Fitbit’s help page: account migrations! A new Fitbit help page has outlined the plan for the upcoming Google Account migration. If this plays out anything like the Nest account migrations (performed by the same Google hardware division), Fitbit users are in for a wild ride.

Google’s support page states, “We plan to enable use of Fitbit with a Google account sometime in 2023” and that at that time “some uses of Fitbit will require a Google account, including signing into Fitbit or activating 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 accounts will be terminated, a Google account will be required to use Fitbit. We will be transparent with our customers about the Fitbit account termination schedule through notices in the Fitbit app, through email, and in help articles.”

Of course, merging the accounts will result in Google getting 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 make Fitbit available to you in accordance with Google’s Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and Fitbit’s Binding Commitments to Fitbit.” Part of those EU commitments, which Google wanted to apply to the world at large, is that “Google will not use Fitbit health and wellness data for Google advertising.”

Google’s selling point for why you want to transfer is: “Google accounts on Fitbit support a number of benefits for Fitbit users, including a single sign-in for Fitbit and other Google services, industry-leading account security, centralized privacy controls for Fitbit user data, and more.” Features of Google on Fitbit.” However, since Fitbit’s Borgification is mandatory in 2025, resistance is futile.

Let’s hope this fares better than Nest

The experience that comes closest to these major account migrations is how Google handled Nest accounts in 2019. It was (and still is) a very bumpy road. After years of coexistence after Google acquired Nest in 2014, Google decided to delete Nest accounts after five years and migrate all to one Google Account. You weren’t forced to switch, but not switching meant only slow death for your account as you weren’t allowed to add new devices and wouldn’t get new features. The account move ultimately shaped how Nest works and what Nest works with, introducing regressions such as losing location-based thermostat control for several months, breaking existing compatibility with third-party apps, and the death of the “Works with Nest ” ecosystem. This also marked the end of Google’s siloing of Nest data from all of Google’s other data collections.

Nest still hasn’t really recovered from its Google tagging. The original Nest app is still being beaten to death with the “not invented here” stick, and Google wants everyone (and forced some products) to switch to the Google Home app. However, the Google app is a disorganized dumping ground for any Google smart home product, and by far the company’s worst and most incomprehensible app. It still doesn’t fully come with the Nest app, and you don’t have to look far to find disgruntled customers. Google also doesn’t offer a web interface for anything, while previously offered web functionality for thermostats and cameras. Google has owned Nest for seven years and still hasn’t figured this out.

So far, the only difference we’ve seen from the Google and Fitbit collaboration is the Fitbit branding, giving way to “Fitbit by Google” branding. If we follow history’s example and assume that Google doesn’t learn from its mistakes, Fitbit’s transition aligns very well with Nest’s. 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 working website). Fitbit has many integrations with other services, but that will likely need to be switched to a Google API like the Google Fit API instead. Of course, that means some functionality remains, some functionality is lost entirely, and some developers are unwilling to take the plunge and recode previously working integrations. Buckle up!

More information will be available closer to the 2023 launch date, according to Google.

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