We all know that Google is in the midst of a huge shakeup of its wearable ecosystem. Wear OS has continued to underperform when it comes to sales, the company recently acquired Fitbit, and a completely new platform is coming with a new generation of chips to power it.
That's great news for the future, but not so great news if you're in the market right now. And that's me. Well, my wife, actually. Her doctor thinks she needs to start monitoring things like calories, exercise, heart rate, and her weight because of an unexpected weight loss. Couple in the fact that she's wrapped up in the tentacles of the Google Android ecosystem (not a bad thing, but still a total lock-in) Google Fit is the logical answer.
I thought this would be easier than it is. She has a nice Withings scale that does exactly what she wants. She also has a Mi Band 4 that she loves, but it doesn't really do what she wants because the option to sync with Google Fit is present but far from seamless. While looking for a suitable solution, I realized one thing — she needs to wait a bit and see what someone (anyone) does with the new Wear OS platform. The real solution to her problem is there in plain sight and waiting for Google to make a reality: a refresh of the Fitbit Charge 4 that syncs with whatever the Fitbit/Google Fit partnership ends up becoming.
Aesthetics aside — my wife likes the lightweight and smaller feel of something like a fitness band over something bulkier like a watch — a cheap fitness band with a Fitbit logo and integration with the new Google Fitness platform is really a no brainer. It almost has to be in the pipeline. A look at the current line of Fitbit products all but guarantees it.
Products like the Fitbit Inspire or Fitbit Charge line were popular enough to get refreshed year after year. Sure, they aren't nearly as flashy as something like the Sense or Versa line and don't even try to compete with full-fledged Wear OS smartwatches, but they are still products that plenty of people enjoy using. Maybe some are like my wife and want something light and unnoticeable on their wrist. Maybe some folks trust the Fitbit brand and really only want a fitness tracker. Maybe people like a $100 price tag on a product that does what they need.
It would be stupid to charge in like an elephant and wreck Fitbit's catalog, and Google is anything but stupid. Yeah, we hate some of the company's decisions, but those same decisions always end up making Google more revenue in the long run. Surely Google has enough insight to know how many people want an inexpensive yet capable fitness tracker. If not, they only need to look at Amazon reviews, something I've done too much of the past week.
When all is said and done, it's the Fitbit acquisition that is giving me pause. Never mind the revamp of the Wear OS platform because we're not really interested in something like buying the best Wear OS watch. It does what we need, but it also does more than we need, and it's just not the right style.
My concerns revolve around how old products will be integrated into the new paid Fitbit tier and Google Fit. Part of me says it will be fine. I should just buy my wife the rosewood-colored Fitbit Charge 4 she really likes and keep my fingers crossed. The worst thing that could happen is that she needs to use two apps to keep track of her important health data or use a clunky third-party solution that gets access to that data.
We'll probably end up waiting and trying to force her Mi Band to sync with Google Fit — that's a pain in the ass, and Xiaomi needs to either fix it or just stop offering it — until we know more about Google's plans for the future. I just hope it will be worth the wait, and Google will continue to sell inexpensive, popular, and most of all accurate fitness bands under the Fitbit brand.
Just what I need
It's far from the most exciting wearable you can buy in 2021, but the Fitbit Charge 4 is perfect for what it sets out to do. As a fitness tracker, the Charge 4 logs your workouts, sleep, and overall health with flying colors — and it does so while only needing to be charged once per week.
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