Google will start equating Fitbit accounts next year

Google will start equating Fitbit accounts next year

Google’s acquisition of Fitbit closed in early 2021, but we haven’t seen much change yet. 9to5Google has spotted a big upcoming change posted on Fitbit’s help site: account migrations! A new Fitbit help page outlined the plan for the upcoming Google Account migration. If it goes like Nest account migrations (done 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 “certain uses of Fitbit will require a Google Account, including for sign up for Fitbit or activate newly released Fitbit devices and Features.” This means optional account migrations for existing users in 2023. Google also says, “Support for Fitbit accounts 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 timeline for termination of Fitbit accounts through notices in the Fitbit app, email, and help articles.”

Merging the accounts will of course mean that Google will get your health data. Google states that “you will need to consent to the transfer of your Fitbit user data from Fitbit to Google” and that “Google will then provide Fitbit to you subject to Google’s Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and Binding Commitments to Fitbit” . Part of these EU commitments, which Google has chosen to apply globally, is that “Google will not use Fitbit health and wellness data for Google Ads.”

Google’s sales pitch explaining why you want to transfer states: “Google Accounts on Fitbit will support a number of benefits for Fitbit users, including single sign-on for Fitbit and other Google services, security state-of-the-art account management, centralized privacy controls for Fitbit user data, and more features from Google on Fitbit.” Really, though, with Fitbit borgification being mandatory in 2025, resistance is futile.

Hope it does better than Nest

The closest experience we have of these major account migrations is Google’s handling of Nest accounts in 2019. It was (and still is) a very bumpy road. After years of coexistence following Google’s acquisition of Nest in 2014, Google decided to terminate Nest Accounts after five years and migrate everyone to a Google Account. You didn’t have to switch, but not switching only meant a slow death of your account, since you weren’t allowed to add new devices and wouldn’t get any new features. The account switch ended up changing a lot about how Nest works and how Nest works with, introducing regressions like losing location-based thermostat control for several months, breaking existing compatibility with third-party apps, and 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 collection.

Nest still hasn’t really recovered from its Google-ification. The original Nest app is still beaten to death with the “not invented here” stick, and Google wants everyone (and has forced some products) to switch to the Google Home app. Google’s app is an unorganized dumping ground for all of Google’s smart home products, and is by far the company’s worst and most incomprehensible app. It’s still not complete with the Nest app, and you don’t have to look far to find angry customers. Google also doesn’t offer a web interface for anything, whereas 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 with the Google/Fitbit team is that the Fitbit brand is giving way to the “Fitbit by Google” brand. If we follow the lead of history and assume that Google doesn’t learn from its mistakes, Fitbit’s transition matches Nest’s very well. We imagine 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 functioning website). Fitbit has a lot of integration with other services, but that will likely need to be moved to a Google API like the Google Fit API instead. Naturally, this will mean the survival of some features, the complete loss of some features, and the reluctance of some developers to take the leap and recode previously working integrations. Buckle up!

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

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