Google’s acquisition of Fitbit closed in early 2021, but we haven’t seen much of a change yet. 9to5Google spotted a big upcoming change posted on the Fitbit Help site: account migrations! A new help page from Fitbit has outlined the plan for the upcoming Google account migration. If this is anything like Nest account migrations (performed by the same Google hardware division), Fitbit users are in for a wild ride.
Google’s support page says: “We plan to enable the use of Fitbit with a Google account sometime in 2023” and that at that time “some uses of Fitbit will require a Google account, including to sign in to Fitbit or activate devices Fitbit recently released and features.” That means optional account migrations for existing users in 2023. Google also says, “Support for Fitbit accounts will continue until at least early 2025. Once 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 terminating Fitbit accounts through notices within the Fitbit app, via email, and in help articles.”
Google’s sales pitch on why it would like to transfer reads: “Google accounts on Fitbit will support a number of benefits for Fitbit users, including single sign-on to Fitbit and other Google services, leading account security in the industry, centralized privacy controls for Fitbit user data, and more Google features on Fitbit.” Really though, since Fitbit’s borgification is mandatory in 2025, resistance is useless.
Let’s hope this does better than Nest
The closest experience we have to these major account migrations is Google’s handling of Nest accounts in 2019. That was (and still is) a bumpy road. After years of coexistence following the acquisition of Google Nest in 2014, Google decided to remove Nest accounts after five years and migrate everyone to a Google account. You weren’t forced to switch, but not switching just meant a slow death of your account as you weren’t allowed to add new devices and you wouldn’t get any new features. The account move ended up changing a lot about how Nest works and what Nest works with, introducing regressions like losing location-based thermostat control for several months, breaking existing compatibility with third-party apps, and the death of “Works with Nest.” Ecosystem “Nest” This also marked the end of Google’s isolation of Nest data from all other Google data collection.
Nest still hasn’t really recovered from its Google-ification. The original Nest app is still being beaten to death with the “not invented here” stick, and Google wants everyone (and forced some products) to move to the Google Home app. However, the Google app is a disorganized dumping ground for all of Google’s smart home products, and it’s easily the company’s worst and most incomprehensible app. You’re still not fully featured with the Nest app, and you don’t have to look far to find angry customers. Google also doesn’t offer a web interface at all, whereas previously, home.nest.com offered web functionality for thermostats and cameras. Google has owned Nest for seven years and has yet to realize this.
So far, the only difference we’ve seen from the Google/Fitbit team is that Fitbit branding gives way to “Fitbit by Google” branding. If we follow the example of history and assume that Google does not learn from its mistakes, Fitbit’s transition corresponds very well with Nest’s. We envision Fitbit’s app and website being hit with the same “not invented here” stick and Google Fit becoming Fitbit’s new companion app (Google Fit no longer has a functional website). Fitbit has a lot of integration with other services, but it will probably need to be ported to some Google API like the Google Fit API. Naturally, that will mean that some features survive, some features are lost entirely, and some developers are unwilling to take the leap and re-code previously working integrations. Seat belt!
Google says more information will be available closer to the 2023 release date.