Does a fitbit still make sense?
January 16, 2021 4:48 PM   Subscribe

After some deliberation, last week I ordered the fitbit sense. I wanted a device that had heart monitoring features and it seems the ECG feature will soon be available in Canada. I also like the fact that it has a 6 day battery. However, I have just learned that fitbit has been acquired by google. Given this acquisition, I am wondering if Google are going force Wear OS on me or even stop sales or support of existing devices in the near future. Then there is also the issue of privacy - not sure I can trust google to keep my data private. Should I return this device and get something else? I have a 45 day return window. My other option is the Apple Watch but I know the short battery life is not going to work for me. In Canada FWIW.
posted by piyushnz to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you're mostly interested in ECG features have you considered something like the KardiaMobile? I'll admit I've only seen the advertising and can't really vouch for it, but it looks like they don't store your data.
posted by cabingirl at 4:58 PM on January 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

You should definitely return it if you are concerned about the Google acquisition. I like my Apple Watch, but I charge it every night.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:06 PM on January 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: @cabingirl - Kardia is a good thing to check out. Recommended by this guy. I purchased it for a family member with a-fib and it has been well-received by both patient and doctor.
posted by superelastic at 5:07 PM on January 16, 2021

Best answer: There's no reason why Google would put WearOS on the existing Fitbits. The only possibilities are that Google has a separate line of Fitbit-OS devices (likely, since they just paid billions of dollars for it), or the next generation of Fitbits will run WearOS (less likely, Google seems to be bored of WearOS). End of sales is very likely in a year until the first post-Google Fitbits come out. Support has always been iffy for these devices. You should assume that no additional features are coming to your Fitbit, but that has always been the case because they sell devices and not services.

If you have an iPhone, you can make a separate Fitbit/Google account that just has your Fitbit data that should stay separate from your personal Google account. I think Google is a lot better at security that other, smaller companies since online data is all they do and they are experts at it. They're also big enough that they don't need to sell your information to other companies in order to stay afloat.
posted by meowzilla at 5:42 PM on January 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: They're not going to force WearOS on existing devices; it's just not worth it to them. Lots of dev effort for no particular gain. Future devices, maybe, but not existing ones. There's also a broader point about WearOS possibly being deprecated itself as it hasn't exactly set the world on fire.

The real key is probably Fitbit Premium -- if you intend to use that, then that'll be your main point of vulnerability. It's possible that they'll discontinue Premium, or in a few years when fancier devices come out decide it's not worth continuing to support Premium on older units, or shift it into a different market model.
posted by aramaic at 5:54 PM on January 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

Wear OS is dead and hasn't had a major update was in 2018. It never really had a decent hardware after the first generation. As far as the data from Fitbit devices go - Google has committed to keeping the data separate. I don't there isn't great incentives to for Google to utilize that type of data - especially as they can just get close enough with data from Android or other sources.

Like aramaic - my bigger worry would be having Google just discontinue the product line and abandon all the users. They won't do that this year or next, so I am confident enough to get a couple of their devices this year (and we have a new apple watch as well) but didn't opt for Premium.
posted by zenon at 6:41 PM on January 16, 2021

My understanding is that none are great for privacy. Apple + Apple watch is one not-terrible option. Garmin is another option because you can run it serviceably well without uploading the data. With Fitbit, you can't even turn off Bluetooth. I'm far from an expert though and would love to know what you do.
posted by slidell at 6:50 PM on January 16, 2021

Also, Wyze had a big data breach (hashed website passwords iirc) but their stuff is pretty decent and unholy cheap. They've also tried to do a decent job for their customers; when one of their cloud products turned out to be more expensive than they'd intended, they gave original backers the chance to get the product at the original price, or even free, because they said it was gonna be cheaper than it ended up being, and so they honored that original statement even though it was gonna cost 'em.

...their watch is still incoming (gotta wait until after March) but I use their Wyze Band and love it. I mean, for $25 it's genius just for the notifications alone! I have their smart scale as well, plus a couple of cameras. Point being, if you feel like waiting they might be a cheap option.
posted by aramaic at 7:07 PM on January 16, 2021

You can get a full couple of days' wear out of the Apple Watch if you wear it in Theater Mode--that is, the screen stays dark unless you tap it--when not working out. If your primary purpose is fitness tracking, that should work for you.
posted by praemunire at 8:09 PM on January 16, 2021

Best answer: Based on google's history, expect fitbits to be discontinued in a couple of years.
posted by monotreme at 8:58 PM on January 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

The battery life with the apple watch is sort of a bummer but I charge it while I shower/get ready for bed every night and it always gets back up to 100. However for a full night/day wear it never drops below 50% so charging daily probably isn't an absolute must if you were to forget.
posted by ataco at 5:27 PM on January 17, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! For the price, I was hoping to have the sense for 3+ years, but from personal experience once support for the device or ecosystem disappear things tend to stop working. The apple watch is outside my budget and I know from owning another smartwatch with approx 1 day battery that I will stop using it after a while. I think my best bet will be to return the sense and look into the kardia and maybe make do with cheaper fitness tracker (maybe the Xiaomi mi band 5, which is available in Canada), until new devices or at least an apple watch with better battery life appears in the future.
posted by piyushnz at 12:20 PM on January 18, 2021

Response by poster: Just as an update: I received the fitbit sense and tried it for a day. I found the interface a bit difficult to navigate and some of the features were a bit obtuse (eg. stress management). It also was not as comfortable to wear as my wifes fitbit charge. All and all, seemed sort of like a half-baked product. I have now returned it and on the look out for a basic fitness tracker with HR and sleep tracking.
posted by piyushnz at 12:09 PM on January 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

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