With the PixelWatch looming around the corner, folks have been wondering what’s going on with Fitbit now that Google’s officially acquired the brand. According to an updated support pageit appears there’s account consolidation on the horizon.
Next year, Google will require a Google account to use some of Fitbit’s features. “We plan to enable use of Fitbit with a Google account sometime in 2023,” explains Google. For now, you’ll still need a Fitbit account to set up a new device.
If you want to link your Google account when the option launches next year, you’ll have to consent to transfer Fitbit data from one account to the other. After that, you can continue to use your existing Fitbit account for as long as Google supports it, up to “at least early 2025.” Regardless, after 2025, that Google login will be required unless you want your watch to be a hunk of junk. Google says it will provide additional information closer to the launch of Google accounts on Fitbit.
The company cites several benefits for this move: single login for Fitbit and Google services, “industry-leading account security,” “centralized privacy controls for Fitbit data,” and “access to additional Google features” on Fitbit. But it doesn’t explain what users can expect after 2025, only that “a Google account will be required to use Fitbit.”
Of course, this raises a few red flags for folks who aren’t too keen on linking their fitness data with Google’s ecosystem. Google promises to “protect Fitbit customers’ privacy” in Europe as per a previous agreement, but it’s an open question as to how long it will keep the data separate after someone makes the switch or if it will use any data it collects for purposes other than advertising while it’s still running out the clock on its agreement . Its compliance with EU regulations only extends to ten years, after which the commission can decide whether to reinstate it.
After that, would users still have the separation of fitness data and the data used to serve ads to them on the Android platform? And what about current Google and Fitbit accounts in the US, which aren’t under the same data protections?
When I reached out to Google to ask for answers to the above questions, I received the same answer it gave other outlets. “Google accounts on Fitbit will remain in full compliance with our commitments to global regulators. After a user signs up for or moves to a Google account, we will continue to keep Fitbit users’ health and wellness data separated from Google Ads data and this data won’t be used for Google Ads.” There’s no mention if this will extend beyond the ten-year timeline.
This will likely become a hotter topic once the Pixel Watch officially launches. There are apparent leaks of Fitbit branding on the box, which leads us to believe it’ll be a big part of this product launch.
I haven’t used Fitbit in years, so I checked out the current login situation. I had to reset my password to get in. There’s already a Google account prompt on the main account page, which differs from Google accounts we Fitbit. This feels akin to how Google made folks move their Nest accounts over to Google, creating a fragmented mess out of Google’s smart home ecosystem.
While it might not be the same kind of fragmentation, it brings to mind the power that Google has to steamroll users into its system through big-ticket acquisitions. Here’s hoping Google drops the act and is as transparent as it promises to be when it reveals more details about what’s happening to Fitbit accounts soon.