HealthTech: Updates to the Fitbit Service

Following our reviews of the Fitbit One, Fitbit Flex and Fitbit Charge, Fitbit have recently made changes to their activity tracking service and apps to enable some exciting new functionality.

Multi-device support

The first and most public of the updates is the ability to link multiple devices to a single account. Although this may seem like a simple change it requires a great deal of work to be done behind the scenes as they advise that the service will seamlessly assess the information from multiple devices automatically avoiding double accounting of steps. This means they are using algorithms to assess when you switch from one device to another and discounting duplication of steps if more than one device is worn at the same time.

To some this may not seem like a big thing, but we see this as helping when you want to use one tracker for everyday use and a second for gym use. Maybe you need one to be wrist mounted like the Fitbit Flex, Fitbit Charge, Fitbit Charge HR or Fitbit Surge and you need the other to have a clip like the Fitbit One. In order to assess this new functionality we have spent a few weeks with a Waist mounted Fitbit One and wrist mounted Fitbit Charge.

All seemed fine and the multi-device support appeared to be working perfectly, but we have noticed at least one instance of the Fitbit Charge indicating that we have achieved our 1,000 step daily goal, but once automatically synchronised, along with the Fitbit One, to the online service the number of steps shown in the mobile app has been reduced below the daily target. This implies that the algorithm is not perfect, but this is a very extreme use-case as you would not be expected to wear two trackers at the same time. Having informed the Fitbit Team of the issue we have been advised that the issue is being resolved.

New Regional Food Databases added

In addition to the addition of multi-device support, we have also noted that additional regional food databases have been added to the Windows Phone app, one of which is the United Kingdom database. We have also identified that the new database options do not show in the Windows RT and PC apps, but we are optimistic that it will follow shortly.

Device Synchronisation embedded in Windows 8.1 RT/Pro app

One major change in the latest version of the Windows 8 RT and PC apps is the incorporation of the Windows 8 PC desktop only synchronisation software in to Windows Store downloadable Fitbit app enabling synchronisation with any Windows 8.1 RT tablet along with Windows 8.1 PCs without the need for desktop access. The only thing you need is a USB or micro-USB to USB converter and the Fitbit dongle provided with all Fitbit trackers. The good news is that this also supports the synchronisation of multiple devices, although it still only supports one user account at a time. Maybe this will come in a future application update.

We have tested the new multi-tracker support on a Windows 8.1 RT tablet and a Windows 8.1 Pro laptop PC and although the PC works perfectly, we have encountered issues on the RT tablet, where only one device is connected and synchronises although multiple connected devices are within range on the application settings panel. The good news is that we have discussed this with the team at Fitbit and they are working on a solution to resolve the issue.

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