Google Fit Review: Will This App Make You Healthier?

Matthew Hughes 01-11-2014

Are you trying to lose a bit of weight? If you’re looking for a new tool in your arsenal in the battle of the bulge, you’re going to love Google’s new smartphone health and fitness app.


After being available for months on Android Wear, Google has launched Google Fit for tablets, phones, and the desktop. The app allows you to track how much exercise you do on a daily basis while setting fitness goals and visualizing your progress.

But is it any good?

What Is Google Fit?

Google Fit is an Android application that uses the sensors built into most modern Android devices to track how much exercise you do.  It allows users to set fitness and weight-loss goals and accomplish them by measuring progress and the types of exercises being performed.

It’s more than just an app, though. It also comes with tools that allow developers to build third-party applications around Google Fit, much like Apple HealthKit does iOS 8 Turns Your iPhone Into A Personal Healthcare Monitor Apple's new watch will turn your iPhone into a revolutionary device for managing your health and fitness – here's how it works. Read More .

Who Can Use Google Fit?

Google Fit debuted earlier this year at Google I/O and later launched on the Android Wear smartwatch platform. After a few months wait, it’s finally landed on your tablet, phone, and desktop.


The app has already gone live on the Play Store and runs on most Android devices running 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and above. I tested it on my 2012 Nexus 7 tablet, and it worked without a hitch.


There’s also a web app. This doesn’t do much besides provide an interface for you to track your progress from your computer.

How Do You Use It?

Google Fit is available as a free download from the Play Store. Before you install it, you’ll have to agree to let the app access your location and identity data.



The app consists of two main views. The first is how many steps you’ve taken, along with a countdown to your average.


The second view contains an aggregate of how much exercise you’ve done, along with a breakdown of whether that was cycling, running, or walking.



Once you’ve installed the app, it already starts working out how much physical exercise you’re doing, and of what kind.


From the settings page, you can set exercise goals. These can be specified in terms of exercise done and steps taken.



The settings page also allows you to delete your personal data from the Google Fit servers as well as manage connected apps.


Will Google Fit Respect My Privacy?

There’s a real perception amongst some that Google services are anathema to privacy 7 Free Google Services That Cost You Battery Life and Privacy Here's how to protect your privacy and preserve battery life while using an Android device. Read More . But should consumers be worried about Google Fit?

To the credit of Google, they’re pretty upfront with letting you know what data they gather. For example, you are asked to give Google permission to access your location data twice, leaving you with no ambiguity that this app will be following you wherever you go.

However, there is some cause for concern, especially when it comes to how Google stores your data, and who can access it.

From the moment of release, third-party developers have been able to create applications around Google Fit, with Google releasing a software development kit (SDK) for the platform. Part of this is something Google likes to call “The Fitness Store”.


It sounds like somewhere you’d go to buy a pair of track pants, but it’s not. It’s the central repository where all data gathered from Google Fit (and Google Fit third-party applications) is retained.

As you might expect, this contains some pretty innocuous data about your exercise patterns and goals. But it also contains some pretty sensitive data, including historical location data that shows where you were and at what time. Applications that are built around the Google Fit platform will have read and write access this data.

Now, it’s worth noting that Google requires developers to treat any personal information with respect. Their official developer documentation states that access to a user’s Fitness Store account should be done with the express consent of the user.

However, I’m concerned that it’s not immediately obvious to users that their location data is being retailed by Google Fit, and that third-party applications will have access to it. The only mention of this is in a piece of hard-to-read small print seen when you launch Google Fit for the first time.

I’m also concerned about the risk of a rogue Android applications Scam Apps in the Play Store You Need to Avoid For every amazing app you can find on Android, there's a cheap knockoff waiting to waste your time and steal your money. Read More gaining access to a user’s Fitness Store data, and the potential privacy implications that could have.

However, it’s worth reiterating that Google will let you delete any fitness data stored on their servers, and de-authorizing third-party applications is easy.

Are There Any Competitors To Google Fit?

Google Fit is Mountain View’s proverbial “hat in the ring” in the smartphone health platform space. This is a space that is increasingly becoming crowded.

Right now, the biggest and most polished contender (and Google Fit’s biggest rival) is Apple’s HealthKit, and its associated Health app. This comes preloaded on all new iOS devices running iOS 8 What's New In iOS 8? After last year's big iOS 7 redesign, you'd expect a muted iOS 8 announcement at this year's Worldwide Developer Conference – but you'd be wrong. Read More  and has been available for the past month or so.

HealthKit has at least one advantage over Google Fit, as it already has a large number of third-party applications built around the platform, including titles like Runtastic Runtastic: Have Your Fitness Exercise Data Recorded & Analyzed On Windows Phone Read More and HealthMate.


Furthermore, HealthKit can take advantage of the sophisticated M7 and M8 motion co-processor built into every iDevice, allowing for richer, more detailed data collection about a user’s physical activity compared to what Google Fit can collect.

But this isn’t just a two-horse race. Google Fit can also expect stiff competition from the recently announced Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health.

The former is a ‘Smart Band’ (don’t call it a smartwatch). Admittedly, it does much of what an Android Wear smartwatch (like the Moto 360 Motorola Moto 360 Android Wear Smartwatch Review and Giveaway The $250 Motorola Moto 360 Android Wear smartwatch fuses beautiful and sleek design with functionality. Read More ) does. It can track your heart rate, see how many steps you take, how many calories you burn, and how well you sleep. However, it lacks much of the functionality of an Android smartwatch, and is more comparable in terms of functionality to a Pebble Pebble Smartwatch Review & Giveaway Smartwatches are the new hottest trend in today's tech world, and the Pebble e-ink watch helped start the fire. The most successful Kickstarter project to date, the Pebble raised over $10 million during its 1-month... Read More . It does have Cortana integration How Cortana Became The "Other Woman" In My Life She appeared one day and changed my life. She knows exactly what I need and has a wicked sense of humour. It's little wonder that I've fallen for the charms of Cortana. Read More , however.

The Microsoft Band links into the Microsoft equivalent of the Google Fit, known as Microsoft Health. It can track the exercise you do and nicely visualize it, while simultaneously offering an open platform for developers to expand upon.


Windows Phone users can download Microsoft Health right now, but they’ll have to wait a little bit longer for the Microsoft Band.

I’d also be remiss in not mentioning FitBit, which offers an affordable, platform-agnostic alternative to HealthKit, Microsoft Health, and Google Fit. We reviewed the Fitbit One Fitbit vs. Garmin: Fitness Watches Compared In the market for a new fitness tracker? Then you've probably compared Fitbit vs. Garmin. We're here to help you decide which brand is best for you. Read More last year and were really impressed with it.

Will Google Fit Work For You?

Google Fit is a great way to passively track how much exercise you do on a daily basis. If you’ve got an Android device, it’s certainly worth a download. There aren’t many Google Fit third-party applications out at the time of writing, but when that day comes, Google Fit could rival HealthKit and Microsoft Health.

Have you tried it? Love it? Hate it? I want to hear about it. Drop me a comment in the box below, and we’ll chat.

Related topics: Google, Health.

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  1. Lin0
    June 24, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    You know what is wildly motivating!? Samsung Health allows you to CHALLENGE your contacts that have Samsung phones! You can send a challenge for 50k steps in a week to all of your samsung contacts and if one person joins the challenge, its on! SO, I would love to know if any other apps out there allow for contact challenges!? It's a big deal.

  2. Sally
    April 5, 2015 at 6:25 am

    Is there any way to print your data?

  3. Whitney
    March 24, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    I specifically chose the Samsung Gear Live so I could use Google Fit and pair to my Note 4. Knowing how active, or lazy, I've been is a good motivator to move more. I went with Google Fit because I don't buy anything Apple and wanted an option that would be most likely to still work if I switched to a non-Samsung android phone (assuming the watch outlives the phone).

    I've been happy with it so far. It seems to keep accurate track of steps and does what I wanted it to do. I used just the phone with Google Fit before I had the watch and it also worked with the phone shoved in a pocket, though not as accurate.

    With other apps, such as "Sleep as Android", it has similar functionality to what I've read about fitbit.

    The only extra that would be nice is if it would periodically check hear rate automatically when it detects a long period of active time. I don't know if any of the others do that.

  4. Gordon
    January 7, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    Just by knowing the daily goal (and how far or near I get to it each day) of activity has jump started my lunchtime walks, early-morning runs, and even post-dinner jogging (because it's easy to do JUST 15 MORE minutes to get the hour in my case). Then the streak is alive!

    I'd say its definitely worth it.

  5. Philip
    November 26, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    The latest upgrade seems to have a more limited functionality and does not include activities like swimming/gym sets etc which were available on the S4 original version and was a v useful log for training and measuring improvements in duration of swims etc

  6. James
    November 3, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Yes, primarily for the Walking Mate step counter, but it does something similar for food/calories (Food Tracker) and exercise more generally (Exercise Mate). You can also track your weight, which can be pulled from compatible scales. It can also measure a "comfort level" by using the phone's sensors to estimate temperature and humidity. There are, of course, a few ways to view your step counts and such, and there's even a worldwide ranking available so you can compare your stats to others. I've never noticed any appreciable battery drain while using the S Health step counter, which is one of the biggest reasons I use it instead of other apps -- when I've tried pedometer style apps in the past, I almost always saw a battery hit. I'm guessing that since Samsung built S Health into their devices, it works better with them than third-party apps can/do. For my use, it's a great app, and I don't think I'd use something else, not right now on my current device anyway.

    • Matthew Hughes
      November 30, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Interesting. I'm going to have to take a closer look at S Health!

  7. James
    November 3, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    I'm a little surprised you didn't include Samsung's S Health as a competitor to Google Fit.

    • Matthew Hughes
      November 3, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      Interesting point. Do you use it yourself? It doesn't seem as popular or fully featured as HealthKit or Google Fit, hence the omission.

  8. Trev
    November 1, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    No App will make you healthier, because it takes time away from you to get healthier. Put that smartphone away for a moment and get outside!

    • Matthew Hughes
      November 3, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      I can't argue with that, Trev!