Google will start assimilating Fitbit accounts next year

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Google’s acquisition of Fitbit closed in early 2021, but we haven’t seen much in the way of changes yet. 9to5Google spotted a big change coming up posted on Fitbit’s help site: account migrations! Fitbit’s new Help page outlines an upcoming Google account migration plan. If anything like Nest account migrations (which are performed by the same division of Google Hardware) happen, Fitbit users are on a road trip.

The Google support page says, “We plan to enable the use of Fitbit with a Google account sometime in 2023” and at this point “some uses of Fitbit will require a Google account, including signing up for Fitbit or activating 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 until at least early 2025. After support for Fitbit accounts ends, a Google Account will be required to use Fitbit. We will be transparent with our customers about the timeline for termination of accounts. Fitbit through notifications within the Fitbit app, by email, and in help articles.”

Merging the accounts will, of course, mean that Google will get hold of your health data. Google says “You will need to consent to the transfer of your Fitbit user data from Fitbit to Google” and that “Google will then provide you with Fitbit under Google’s Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and the Binding Obligations of Fitbit.” Part of those EU commitments, which Google has chosen to apply to the world at large, is that “Google will not use Fitbit health and wellness data in Google ads.”

Google’s sales pitch says why you’d want the transition, “Google accounts on Fitbit will support a number of benefits for Fitbit users, including single sign-in to Fitbit and other Google services, industry-leading account security, Fitbit central privacy controls for user data, and more. Features from Google on Fitbit.” Really, even though the Borgia Fitbit becomes mandatory in 2025, the resistance is futile.

Let’s hope this is better than Nest

The closest we’ve had to these major account migrations is Google’s handling of Nest accounts in 2019. This has been (and still is) a very bumpy road. After years of coexisting after the acquisition of Google Nest in 2014, Google decided to kill Nest accounts after five years and migrate everyone to a Google account. You didn’t have to switch, but switching didn’t just mean the slow death of your account, as you weren’t allowed to add new devices and you wouldn’t get any new features. Moving the account ended up changing a lot about how Nest works and what Nest does, introducing regressions such as losing control of a location-based thermostat for months, breaking existing compatibility with third-party apps, and the end of “working with the Nest System.” That was too. As an end to Google locking out Nest Data from all other Google data collected.

Nest still hasn’t really recovered from Google-ification. The original Nest app is still being beaten to death with a stick that “wasn’t invented here,” and Google wants everyone (and some products) to move to the Google Home app. The Google app is the unorganized place for all of Google’s smart home products, however, it’s easily the company’s worst and most obscure app. The Nest app is still not complete with features, and you don’t have to look far to find angry customers. Google also doesn’t provide a web interface for anything, whereas previously, home.nest.com provided web functionality for thermostats and cameras. Google has owned Nest for seven years and still hasn’t figured it out.

So far, the only difference we’ve seen from the Google/Fitbit team has been the Fitbit branding 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 Maps moves very well to Nest. We imagine the Fitbit app and website being hit with the same “not invented here” wand and Google Fit taking over as Fitbit’s new companion app (Google Fit no longer has a functional website). Fitbit has a lot of integration with other services, but that will likely need to move to some Google API like the Google Fit API instead. Naturally, this will involve some functionality remaining, some functionality missing altogether, and some developers not wanting to make the leap and recode integrations that were working previously. Fasten seat belts!

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

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