Google Fit uses the sensors in supported smartphones and fitness trackers to track steps. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll explain how that works in a jiffy.
Let’s kick off with something sobering. According to statistics, approximately 1.4 billion adults don’t work out enough to stay in tip-top health. That is why we are witnessing a spike in health issues like obesity and heart disease. But there’s a significant chunk of people who take their health seriously. These individuals use everything at their disposal to stay in excellent shape, including popular apps like Google Fit.
Today, I’d like to tell you more about Google Fit. My article will mostly show you how this app tracks your steps. But it’ll also introduce you to other activities and metrics Google Fit tracks.
What is Google Fit?
Soon you’ll be able to use Google Fit on Pixel to measure your heart rate and respiratory rate using just your phone’s camera. Learn more about this update, announced at today’s #TheCheckUp event → https://t.co/LAdMOE4oMy pic.twitter.com/Ks5PegyTmo
— Google (@Google) February 4, 2021
Google Fit is an app that helps fitness enthusiasts to hit their goals through actionable tips and customized coaching. The platform uses a unique user’s health and activity history to tailor the best fitness tips and coaching methods.
Since its launching in 2014, Google Fit has become infamous. In 2021, the app shattered the 100-million installs mark, a feat many other fitness apps haven’t yet achieved, including the popular Fitbit app.
One of the reasons why people in droves are installing and using this app is it makes reviewing specific data simpler. For instance, I love to run and often record my sessions on my Fitbit. Although I can view my stats on the Fitbit app, I prefer using Google Fit because it merges and organizes everything logically.
How Does Google Fit Track My Steps?
Fundamentally, Google Fit uses your smartphone’s and/or fitness tracker’s step counts to track and calculate the most accurate step count.
Let’s start with your smartphone. Did you know that an everyday smartphone can count steps? That’s right. All it needs is Google Fit, which is compatible with most Android and IOS phones. Once Google Fit is installed on your phone, it will use the existing sensors to track steps and journal the relevant stats.
If you want Google Fit to track your steps with a smartphone, follow these step-by-step guide:
- Step 1: Download Google Fit from the Google Play Store or Apple Store and install it on your smartphone.
- Step 2: Open the app and create your account. All you need at this phase is an active Google account. If you don’t have one, create it; it’s free.
- Step 3: Set up your profile and provide the required info
- Step 4: Toggle on “Activity Tracking” and grant the app permission to access your physical activities.
- Step 5: Choose your Daily goals. Whether you are looking to hit 5,000, 7,500, or 10,000 steps per day, fill in your preferred number.
- Step 6: Walk around with your phone in your pocket and frequently check your progress.
Suppose you have a Wear OS Smartwatch. In that case, if you want to use Google Fit to track your steps, do the following:
- Step 1: Connect the wearable to a compatible smartphone.
- Step 2: Download Google Fit to both your phone and fitness tracker.
- Step 3: Open the app installed on your phone.
- Step 4: Follow the steps I’ve outlined above to open your account and activate step tracking.
If you have any other fitness tracker, just connect and sync it with Google Fit and let the app work its magic.
How to Improve Google Fit’s Step-tracking Accuracy
Google Fit uses your phone’s sensors to track steps throughout the day. For most people, its step counts are relatively accurate. However, inaccuracies can creep in depending on your phone model, walking style, how you carry your device, and other factors.
If you feel Google Fit’s step totals seem inflated or deflated compared to your actual steps taken, there are a few tips you can try to get more precise counts:
1. Carry Your Phone Correctly
One of the biggest factors affecting accuracy is where you carry your phone as you walk. For optimal results, have your phone in your pocket or hand while moving around. When your phone is stationary on a table or desk, Google Fit can mistake other vibrations and movements for steps. Keeping it on your body allows the accelerometer to best capture your motion patterns.
You may need to experiment to find which pocket gives the most accurate tally. Front, back, and coat pockets can all work well. Find the positioning that your phone’s sensors can best discern steps from other non-step motions.
2. Avoid Phone Obstructions
Anything obstructing or dampening the phone’s movement can interfere with accurate counting. So avoid thick phone cases, keeping your phone in a bag or backpack, or other barriers. The sensors need to experience your steps directly.
You may also need to take your phone out of any mounts or holders when walking, as those can limit motion detection if they are not snug against your body. Remove obstructions that isolate your phone from your steps.
3. Calibrate Your Stride Length on Google Fit
Everyone’s natural stride length is slightly different, which can influence step totals. You can increase accuracy by calibrating your personal stride length in the Google Fit settings.
- Measure out a distance you can walk in a straight line, like 100 feet. Use a measuring tape or apps that map out distances.
- Walk that distance normally, keeping your phone in your pocket or hand. Make sure you walk in as straight a line as possible.
- In Google Fit, record that walk as an activity, noting the exact distance traveled.
- Google Fit will use your actual steps taken over the known distance to calculate and save your stride length.
From then on, your calibrated stride length will be applied to all step counts for better accuracy. Repeat this process occasionally as your stride may change over time.
4. Compare Against a Known Benchmark
Another way to validate Google Fit’s accuracy is to periodically walk a set number of steps and compare them against the app’s tally.
You can do this in a few different ways:
- Use a treadmill’s step counter for a controlled benchmark.
- Walk laps of a known distance, like a track or hallway, counting your own steps.
- Manually count steps while walking around your house or neighborhood.
- Record your walk with Google Fit, then analyze the activity to see if the counted steps match your verified total.
5. Disable Battery Optimization
One technical setting that can unintentionally reduce step-tracking accuracy in Google Fit is battery optimization. To maximize battery life, some Android phones aggressively limit background app activity like Google Fit’s motion sensing.
To disable battery optimization for Google Fit on Android:
- Go to Settings > Apps & notifications
- Select Advanced > Special app access > Battery optimization
- Find Google Fit in the list of apps and toggle off Battery optimization
What Else Does it Track?
Besides steps, Google Fit can help you measure and track:
- Other physical activities, including swimming, indoor cycling, and running
- Heart rate
- Lost calories
- Distance covered during a workout
- Weight changes
- Elevation levels during workouts
- Sleep history
- Nutrition and hydration
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar levels
Navigating the Google Fit App
The Google Fit app provides a user-friendly dashboard to view and manage your fitness data across four main hubs.
|The Home screen:||Gives an glance overview of your daily activity and health metrics like steps, calories, workouts, videos, and health tips. Consider it your fitness command central.|
|Journal tab:||allows for a chronological log of your recorded fitness activities. This scrollable calendar lets you look back on your exercise history day-by-day.|
|The Browse page:||compiles your metrics into categories like activity, body measurements, vitals, and sleep. It also integrates data from other apps, devices, and trackers you connect.|
|The Profile page:||allows you to set personalized goals for move minutes and heart points earned. You can also update your details and settings here.|
Between these four sections, Google Fit provides a customizable dashboard to monitor your performance, trends, and progress on your fitness journey.
What Does Google Fit Miss?
Google Fit excels in its simplicity – it’s an easy-to-use app that tracks your daily steps, burned calories, and other basic health metrics. But when it comes to more advanced features, Google Fit falls short.
No Social Features to Connect You with Others
One major aspect lacking in Google Fit is any kind of social platform to connect you with other users. Apps like Strava thrive on building community and allowing people to inspire each other on their fitness journeys. But with Google Fit, you’re on your own.
There are no options to join groups, post updates, share photos, comment on other people’s posts, or ask for advice. For some people, having a social support system helps keep them motivated and accountable. But Google Fit is a solo journey.
Limited Training Programs and Progress Tracking
Google Fit also doesn’t offer any workout programs to help guide your training. The closest it has are links to workout videos on YouTube. But if you want prescriptive workout plans and coaching, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The app also lacks ways to track your progress over time for specific activities. You can see how your weight, heart rate, Move Minutes, and Heart Points change, but not your performance for runs, rides, or other exercises. There’s no food or water logging either, beyond tracking your weight.
Google Fit is one of the most favorite fitness apps today. Millions use it to merge data from different apps and devices and assess overall wellness. Today, you can use Google Fit to track diverse activities, from steps and calories burned to sleep and blood sugar levels.
If you don’t have Google Fit, download it today from the Play Store or Apple Store. Avoid sourcing this app from unofficial platforms to avoid issues like malware, which have exposed 4 in 10 mobile gadgets to cyberattacks.
How does the Google Fit app track my steps?
The Google Fit app uses your phone’s accelerometer and GPS sensors to track your movement throughout the day. It analyzes your motion patterns to detect when you are walking, running, or climbing stairs and counts each step. No need to open the app or start any recording – it runs silently in the background.
Is step counting accurate on Google Fit?
Google Fit uses advanced algorithms and machine learning to filter out non-step motions like driving a car or sitting at a desk. Overall, its step tracking is quite accurate for most users. However, accuracy can vary based on phone model, how you carry your phone, walking style, and other factors. Periodically verify its counts against a known number of steps.
Why are my Google Fit steps different than my fitness tracker?
Discrepancies between step counts on Google Fit vs. a wearable tracker are common. This is because they use different sensors and algorithms to count steps. Fitbit and Apple Watch use direct wrist motion, while Google Fit relies on your phone’s accelerometer. Try carrying your phone in your hand or pocket for better alignment. But some differences will remain.
Does Google Fit track steps without internet?
Yes, the Google Fit app will continue passively tracking your steps even without an internet connection. Your step count will sync up to your account once internet connectivity resumes. This makes it handy for tracking steps while hiking or traveling abroad without data.
Can I track steps on Google Fit from my smartwatch?
If you use a Wear OS smartwatch paired with an Android phone, your watch’s step count gets automatically synced to the Google Fit app. Steps tracked on an Apple Watch or Fitbit won’t directly sync, but you can connect them through Apple Health or Fitbit apps.