I love data. I also (every so often) like trying to get fit. Handily, there are loads of apps out there ready and willing to help! I’ve had a Fitbit Flex (that went the way of the Dodo due to it not having a proper screen) which, while I loved it. just wasn’t quite right for me. Since getting my smartwatch, I’ve loved getting little notification cards from Google Fit too. I don’t have to do anything, the watch (and phone) just sit there in the background gathering movement information about me and putting it into cute little graphs. The Google Now cards keep you updated on how much you’re moving and the ability for you to set your own goals make it great for keeping an eye on how much you’re moving.
However, I’m finding the app has some slight drawbacks.
For one, you can’t use it to keep a food diary. Fine, it’s not advertising itself as having that and there’s plenty available in the PlayStore but it doesn’t seem to integrate with them. I’m using MyFitnessPal which could sync to my Fitbit (sorta) and meant I didn’t have to use its awful (at the time) interface. But GoogleFit doesn’t seem to play ball. I’m not sure whether is MFP not adding the integration or Google hiding the data but either way, it is irritating.
It also doesn’t seem to work great in the gym. Yesterday, I had a really great session of weights and cardio. Fair enough the watch can’t tell when I’m doing weights (and I’m not wearing it for some of them) but the Fit app does let me add those activities to it easy enough. What irritated me though, was that it didn’t seem to pick up my cardio either. Ok so I’m not going anywhere but it should detect the actual movements!
While adding a cardio workout, I also found that, say if you were to ignore the “time” field when doing a manual add, you can’t go back and change it to it makes sense (while writing this, discovered that you can edit activities in the web app but its a rather awkward process and I still don’t know how to do it in the app). Because of this, I’ve got a really dodgy graph for a day when I did a 5K cycle and some yoga at the same time.
Like most of the Google offerings, Google Fit has a web application. It’s very pretty… but kinda limited. You don’t seem to be able to manually add activities (although you can edit old ones) and the way it presents the graphs is irritating.
So this is the web interface. Very clean, very swish. So I got the graph to appear by clicking the day I wanted to examine (handily referred to as “yesterday” and then clicking “see graph details” and then it showed me today’s graph. Now, there’s a “see graph details” at the bottom of every day so what I actually needed to do was scroll down and click the other “see graph details” button. Not exactly much to ask of a user and yet it confused me. The buttons don’t appear unless you’ve already clicked on a particular day, so why not update the graph automatically?
The graphs seem to have no bearing on what you’ve selected in the rest of the screen. For example, I change to looking at “calories burnt” rather than “active time” and then “see graph details” and the graph will still show me “active time”. That’s more of a quirk of the UI more than anything else. I’m not likely to use the web interface very much (especially since you can’t add activities from it) but its a handy tool to have around.
Android Wear is a funny little OS. Most of the Wear apps have phone counterparts so what Wear does is display data which the phone app gives them. Google Fit similarly, displays what the phone app tells it to. It does collect your movement and send it straight to the phone (for the phone to process). This means that every so often, your watch won’t display the most accurate of information. Also, if your watch disconnects from the phone (like when you leave it in a gym locker), you don’t get as much data collection as normal. So you can be working out in the gym for an hour, and your watch is still telling you you’ve done 29 minutes of walking all day.
Google Fit is great. It can be powerful (with the graphs and app integrations) or you can leave it be and just get happy when you get the little buzz when you reach your goals. It needs some work to compete with the pure fitness wearables like FitBit but, for now, it’ll do.