Google Fit and Apple Health both arrived late in 2014, and since then Apple and Google have been busy adding assorted features and functions to their respective health monitoring and activity tracking apps.
Google Fit is the simpler, less medical-focused version of the two, utilising the advanced sensors in your smartphone to work out when you're walking, jogging or cycling. It also works neatly with Android Wear smartwatches and the web, and more support for third-party devices and apps is on the way.
Read this: Android Wear 2.0 essential guide
Still have a question about Google's smartwatch OS? Check out our Android Wear super guide.
Get the apps
Google Fit arrived alongside Android 5.0 Lollipop in 2014 and now comes installed on all new Google-powered handsets. However, unlike the Camera or the Contacts apps, you can uninstall it if you don't want it.
If you have removed it or don't yet have it for whatever reason, you can pick up the free app from the Google Play Store. As yet there's no version for iOS, but Google has hinted that it might be open to the idea in the future, if Apple allows it (Google Maps, Gmail and Google's other apps all do very nicely on iPhones and iPads after all).
Switch to the web
It's kept pretty quiet about it, but Google has also created a web interface for Google Fit – you can log in to view your recent activity, edit or add activities, change your personal information, alter your goals or delete all of the data Google Fit has on you.
The only feature missing from the web interface is automatic activity logging, but then again you didn't want to take your laptop out running, did you?
Enter your details
You don't have to tell Google Fit anything about you, but it does help the software calculate your activity levels if you specify your gender, height and weight.
From the mobile app or the web interface tap the Menu button and then Settings to fill out your details. From the same screen you can set the measurement units that you want Google Fit to use when presenting information.
A major update released last year added distance and calorie estimates to the mix — both of which rely on this personal info to calculate the relevant metrics.
Set your goals
Once you've installed the Google Fit app, some modest targets will be created for you, but these can be easily reconfigured – on the web tap Menu and then Settings again to set your goals. In the mobile app, tap the plus icon (lower right) then Add goal.
You can configure a target number of steps, a target duration for all of your exercise (running, walking and cycling combined), a total number of calories burned or a total distance to cover. Via the mobile app it's also possible to set targets for a certain number of activities (e.g. running or basketball) per week.
All of the targets you set up are available on the front screen of Google Fit and you can edit or remove them easily using the pop-up menus behind the three dots next to each one.
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Connect Android Wear
If you have Android Wear 2.0 installed on your smartwatch, then you should automatically have Google Fit too. If not, look for it in the Play Store on your watch. On older Android Wear 1.x devices, meanwhile, Google Fit shows up on your watch as soon as you've installed the app on your phone. Note though there's no Google Fit app for iOS yet, so if your watch is paired with an iPhone, you're stuck with the web and watch interfaces.
The Google Fit upgrade you get with Android Wear 2.0 is a welcome one, and it can do more without a connected phone, like automatically detect the type of activity you're doing from your wristwatch alone, and count individual activities from your wearable too (like individual push-up reps).
Whatever version of Android Wear you have, workouts can be launched from your wrist, and data gets synced between smartwatch and smartphone, so you can track your steps and other activity whichever device you happen to have with you.
Google Fit on your smartwatch
From the apps list on your watch, tap the Fit entry to check your stats, set new goals, and start recording new activities manually. If you want to do something specific, choose the Fit Workout option instead.
For example, choose Sit-up challenge from the list in Fit Workout, pick your difficulty level, and you then get a guide to the proper form you should be using. Tap the Start button to begin your exercises and track them on your watch.
If you're on Android Wear 2.0, you can add a Google Fit complication (like steps or goals progress) to a compatible watch face; if you're on Android Wear 1.0, you can add a dedicated Google Fit watch face, supplied with the app, to see your stats at a glance.
You don't have to do anything special to activate Google Fit or tell it you're off out for a run around the park, as everything is done automatically if you have your smartphone with you. If you have an Android Wear smartwatch this gives you another way of tracking your progress, and it also enables you to log your heart rate over time if the wearable has the right sensor (most now do).
You can also tell your watch you're starting a walk, run or bike ride with your voice.
Check your progress
Checking your daily or past progress from your phone, watch or browser is as easy as launching the Google Fit app. The first screen you'll see shows your efforts for the current day and how close you are to your goals; choose Timeline from the app menu on Android or scroll down on the web to go back in time.
Key data for the day (activity time, number of steps, calories burned and distance travelled) is shown at the top of the screen. Scroll down to see data breakdowns and to see your efforts over time.
Configure the app
Delve into the Settings in the mobile app and you can switch notifications on or off as well as delete all of the data that Google Fit has collected about you. You can also configure a list of your favourite activities so it's easier to add them manually.
On the same screen on your phone you can also disable automatic activity tracking and see all of the devices and apps that are currently plugged into the Google Fit system.
A smaller list of similar settings are available on the web, though you don't get all of them. You can delete your history and set your favourite activities, for instance.
Edit your activities
If Google Fit hasn't managed to record something accurately or you went cycling without your smartphone, then you can edit events manually. Tap the large plus button that appears on either the mobile app or the web and you can specify the date, time, duration and activity type for whatever the exercise was.
Select an existing event (like a short walk) in the mobile app or on the web, and you can edit or hide the entry in your fitness calendar using the three-dot menu button to the right (or the pencil icon in the mobile app).
Connect a fitness tracker
Google Fit has partnered with a number of companies – including Basis and Withings – to offer third-party support, but for now you can't automatically sync data from non-Android Wear devices.
This should improve in time, and there are some workarounds: Jawbone's bands can sync to RunKeeper which can then be synced to Google Fit.
Check out our guide to the best Google Fit compatible apps and devices.
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