How to use Google Fit: Get set with the Android, Wear and iOS fitness platform

Our guide to getting up and running with Google's fitness ecosystem
How to use Google Fit
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The Google Fit you once knew is no more. Google recently gave the Apple Health rival its biggest revamp since its launch back in 2014.

It's still all about helping you monitor health and fitness from your smartphone or Wear smartwatch (formerly Android Wear) and now your iPhone. Google hopes keeping on top of those fitness goals should hopefully be more manageable and achievable too.

Essential reading: Best smartwatches to buy right now

It still uses the advanced sensors on your smartphone or smartwatch to work out when you're walking, jogging, cycling and more. There's also support for third-party apps and devices, so you don't have to spend money on a new Wear watch to use it.

However, if you've just picked up a new smartwatch, or you're ready to ditch your current fitness app favourite, here's how to get started with the new-look Google Fit.

Get the Google Fit app

How to use Google Fit: Get set with the Android and Wear fitness platform

If you own an Android smartphone then Google Fit usually comes as part of the suite of apps preloaded onto the handset. If it's not there, then you'll need to head to the Google Play store to get it downloaded. If you have an iPhone, then you'll need to head to the Apple App Store and search for it and hit that download button.

If you already use Google Fit on your phone, then to get the latest features you'll also need to head to the Play Store to update the app. It should be a similar story for Wear watches too. Fit should come pre-loaded, but you may need to update the Wear version of the app for the new features to be reflected on your wrist companion.

Read this: Essential apps and devices that work with Google Fit

Once downloaded, you'll need to use your Google account (that's the same one you created to first set up your phone or smartwatch) to log in and access Google Fit. Now, there also used to be a web version of the Google Fit app, but that is now gone. So if you want to do your tracking, you'll need that app in your life.

Enter your details

How to use Google Fit: Get set with the Android fitness platform

You don't have to tell Google Fit anything about yourself, but it does help the software calculate your activity levels if you specify your gender, height and weight.

The new setup will also ask you if you want Google Fit to automatically track activity like walking or running using your phone or connected wearable. You do have the option to opt out of this though. It will also give you the option to use location information to save routes for when you go out running or cycling. Again, you can choose not to have this feature turned on.

If you're setting it up on an iPhone, you'll have the additional option to link Fit to Apple Health letting the app read data such as heart rate, sleep analysis and steps. You can toggle on/off as many types of data you want Google Fit to read, or opt to share nothing by tapping Don't Allow.

New goals to improve your health

How to use Google Fit: Get set with the Android fitness platform

Google is shaking up how it's helping you boost your day-today wellbeing and it's ditching step goals with two two new goals.

Move Minutes

First up is Move minutes, which is essentially all about the amount of time you spend doing physical activity for a specific amount of time during the day. This could be doing some yoga or going out for a stroll.

How many minutes you choose to move is determined by you. It's set as a default to 60 minutes a day, but you are able to bump this up or reduce the amount.

Heart Points

The next way to measure your activity goal is through something Google is calling Heart Points. Google Fit will award you points for more intense sessions of physical activity and when you're really getting that heart pumping. So we're talking going for a run or a cycling for instance as examples of ways to earn those Heart Points. Running will award you 2 points for every minute you are run for while for every minute you cycle, you'll bag 1 point.

For smartwatches, this will tap into your heart rate sensor to detect when you're picking up the pace. On your phone, it'll use the combination of the accelerometer motion sensor built into your handset and (if available) GPS data to predict the intensity of your movements.

Google has drawn on help from the American Heart Association to ensure that you earn enough Heart Points to meet its weekly recommendations for physical activity.

Getting around the new Google Fit app

How to use Google Fit: Get set with the Android fitness platform

Along with new features, Google has also spruced up the look of the app introducing something that's less cluttered and generally make it a less daunting place to spend time in. Here's a breakdown of the key new changes that will help you quickly the Google Fit phone app.

The rings

To keep track of your progress ticking off those move minutes and heart points Google has introduced a new ring-based UI (sounds familiar) that will give you a clear idea of how close you are to completing that day's goals. As you use Google Fit more, it'll adjust your goals depending on the activity you log. So if you push a little harder it may give you a higher total of move minutes or heart points to amass during the day.

Manually tracking a workout

How to use Google Fit: Get set with the Android fitness platform

As of its latest update, Google Fit has the ability to map your workouts automatically, pulling data from any wearables you might be using, across both the Android and iOS version of the app. You can see these routes in the Journal (more on that below), and tapping on them will let you see full information and details, including an expanded map.

However, if you'd like to start tracking an activity from within the app, that's possible, too. This will no doubt be a really important one for a lot of people. From the Home screen you should see an icon with a cross on it. Hit this button to bring up additional options to add blood pressure readings, weight, activity and to start tracking a workout.

There's a whole host of activities that can be tracked from aerobics to windsurfing. Some of these activities are of course better suited to a wearable of course. So tracking from a phone for certain activities will only offer information such as time and a tally of Heart Points. But for activities like running and cycling, it'll also map your routes. As long as you've enabled Google Fit to track your location as mentioned in the setup process.

If you head to the main settings menu on the Google Fit app (in Profile tab and hit the cog in the top right hand corner), you can customise the workout experience including turning on spoken announcements as well as switching from KM and miles measurements.

Adding an activity

There is also the option to manually add an activity on Fit, which requires doing what we described above and selecting the Add an activity option. You can find the same extensive list of activities to choose from and you'll be assigned Move Minutes and Heart Rate Points for that activity. You can also make a note of the duration, add notes, calories burned, steps and distance in KM.

Journal

Alongside from the Home tab in the Google Fit app is where you'll find something called Journal. This is the place where all of your workouts can be viewed. That's whether they've been tracked from the app or a connected wearable device or added in manually. You can also see any routes you've taken, to explore the details of your workout.

Tracking your sleep

A recent update has also added sleep tracking to Google Fit, meaning that users can give the app access to sleep data being collected by any third-party apps their using. If you're an iPhone user, your Bedtime data alone could give you a sense for how you've been sleeping.

When you set the app up, simply allow Fit to have access to your sleep data, and you'll start seeing your sleeping time in your Journal. If you'd like to change this at any time, on iPhone you can head to the Health app to do so. Just go to the 'Sources' tab, select Google Fit and turn 'Sleep Analysis' on or off according to your preferences.

How to enable Dark Mode

How to use Google Fit: Get set with the Android, Wear and iOS fitness platform

In a recent update for Google Fit, Google has added a Dark Mode, to switch up the look of the app and make it easier on tired eyes.

To activate this mode, go to your Profile screen, then tap the gear icon to access your settings. The top option is 'Theme' - this is where you can choose between 'Light' and 'Dark'.

Select 'Dark' to enable Dark Mode and enjoy the fresh coat of paint the app receives. Moreover, you might find that it's easier to look at in dim conditions, and can actually be less of a drain on battery life, too.

How to add Google Fit app widget to your phone homescreen

How to use Google Fit: Get set with the Android and Wear fitness platform

In its latest Fit update, Google has added the ability to let you keep a closer eye on your Move Minutes and Heart Points on your phone by adding support for a Fit widget. From here you can also see additional details on steps, calories burned and distance covered. As Apple doesn't support widgets on iPhones, this is an Android-only feature we're afraid.

To add the Google Fit widget, simply press down on your phone's screen and you should see Widget appear among a trio of options. Tap Widget and you'll be able to scroll through all available widgets where you should now find the new Google Fit one. You have your pick from the full widget (with additional details) or simply have the Move Minute and Heart Point widget.

How to add third-party apps

How to use Google Fit: Get set with the Android fitness platform

Google Fit still allows you to share Google Fit data with other apps and devices and that's now done from the Profile tab. Look for the small cog icon in the top right hand corner of the Profile page and you'll find all of the various settings you can tinker with in Fit.

It's here where you can manage connected apps and devices. Google now breaks this down into three categories. There's All apps & devices, Apps with Google Sign-in and Google Fit apps & devices.

For a list of compatible Google Fit apps, you can go see them here and also check out our top Google Fit compatible apps too. If you want to sync other apps to Google Fit to pull in the data to the Fit app, it's done in roughly the same way:

1. Go to the third party app (Runkeeper or Strava for example) and find the settings menu.

2. Locate the option where you are able to connect other services and or link other services.

3. Follow the instructions to link the app to Google Fit.

How to connect a Wear smartwatch to Google Fit

How to use Google Fit: Get set with the Android and Wear fitness platform

If you have Wear 2.0 installed on your Wear smartwatch, then you should automatically have Google Fit too. If not, look for it in the Play Store on your watch. On older Wear devices, meanwhile, Google Fit shows up on your watch as soon as you've installed the app on your phone.

Read this: Best fitness tracker to buy right now

The chances are you'll need to update the Google Fit app to access the new-look design and features. The best way we've found to do that is to head to the Play Store on your Wear watch (for those watches that support the ability to do that), searching for the Google Fit app and selecting to update.

If you own a Wear smartwatch that's paired with an iPhone data from your Wear OS watch won't sync with Apple Health. It will play nice with other apps including Sleep Cycle, Nike Run Club and Headspace, showing Heart Points and Move Minutes earned through other activities.

Google Fit on Wear smartwatches

Once you're updated you'll be able to go into the app drawer on your watch and see that new-look Google Fit icon. From there you'll once again be asked to associate your Google account to pull in the same data that already exists on the phone app. You'll also again be prompted to enter weight and height details. Once that's all done, you're ready to roll.

Those activity rings are now front and centre listing your Move Minutes and Heart Points at the centre of the screen. If you swipe up from the screen you'll be able to view your total steps for the day along with calories burned and distance covered.

Scroll even further and it's here you can start tracking workouts and tinker with settings. In Workout, you'll see a long list of activities that can be tracked including Challenges, which has been kept from the previous version of Fit. These challenges include push-up, sit-up and squat challenges and you can also adjust the difficulty levels for these challenges. You still have support for rep counting here as well to make Fit more gym and weight training friendly too.

If you want to see your workout history, you'll need to scroll down all the way to the bottom of the list of supported exercises. From the Fit Settings menu there are options to adjust activity goals, change units of measurement and even change the size of the numbers displayed for distance, pace and other exercise data.

Fit Workout

How to use Google Fit: Get set with the Android fitness platform

You might notice that there is another Fit app on your Wear watch and that's Fit Workout. This is simply a shortcut to get to the workout mode we've described above. If you're not interested in checking in on your activity rings, this is where you need to go to first.

How to get the Google Fit activity rings watch face

How to use Google Fit: Get set with the Android fitness platform

Yes, you can keep a close check on your daily progress straight from the watch face. To access the new Google Fit watch face you need to swipe left from the watch face screen to see more watch faces and tap on the Google Fit face.

It's near identical to the look of the app and will display your activity rings as well as a small widget that lets you jump straight into workout tracking. That workout assigned to that widget can be changed as well. A double tap at the bottom of the watch face will also reveal your tally of Move Points and Heart Points too.

If you're watch has an always on display, it should still also let you view the rings when the screen is not awake, just in a more simplified black and white UI.

Using Google Fit guided breathing

How to use Google Fit: Get set with the Android and Wear fitness platform

Like Apple, Samsung and Fitbit, Google now wants to keep you calm with a new guided breathing feature that is available within the Google Fit app.

To access it, launch the Google Fit app on your watch and swipe up on the screen to scroll down and you'll see Guided Breathing. The breathing exercise takes 2 minutes and requires you to stay still when performing the exercise. The screen will prompt you when to inhale and exhale with an animated ring helping to slow down your breathing to a more relaxed pace.

At the end you'll get a summary of your breathing time and how many deep breaths you managed during that time.

Google Fit on Apple Watch

If you own an Apple Watch, Google Fit does work with the smartwatch, but it's a very different experience to the one you get when pairing a Wear OS watch to Google Fit on an Android phone. There's no dedicated app that lives on your app screen on your Watch so you don't get those guided breathing features we mentioned above for instance.

What you do get is the ability for any workout or activity tracking data recorded by your Apple Watch to be collected in the Google Fit app on your iPhone. So it effectively acts as alternative hub for your data if you don't want to use Apple Health. Hopefully Google will change that over time and bring a dedicated app to the Watch as well.


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5 comments

  • Jan2344·

    I removed Google fit, i dont like the new goals but they are mandatory. I want my pink rings and steps back!!

  • ABnTampa·

    I'm getting wrong info or "ghost activity" it's counting slow traffic as move minutes. I used to be able compare months to see what I did or didn't do that is helping me achieve what I want..I lost about three years of info. Im getting two different reads from the journal and move minutes. MyFitnessPal no longer works with the new fit...none of my nutrition info is incorporated in fit. Also it seems to be draining my battery life faster since the new update. I'm searching for a replacement app.

  • tgrimm1213·

    What is the heart rate range of "75v 128^" on the pop-up when holding your finger down on the blue line on the heart rate graph? I have afib and am trying to figure out what this "range" means and cannot find an answer anywhere

  • tdigal·

    Having difficulty linking fit2 to weight watchers app. Is there any way to do this?

  • arexroh·

    Hi Michael, great article. May I know, what's the model of that smart watch that you used for the purposes of this article? I'd very much like to get one!