Fitbit has announced that its Adventures, Challenges, and Open Groups community features will be discontinued starting March 27, as part of a “streamlining” effort to integrate the Fitbit app with Google.
Owners of any of the top Fitbit watches or fitness trackers will no longer be able to participate in group challenges with other users. Step count, distance, and time challenges like the “Workweek Hustle” are some of the most common, though anyone can join an open group around a common interest, such as rock climbing or yoga.
Adventures were a unique subset of challenges, encouraging users to explore a different “daily destination” and complete virtual courses based on famous trails in the likes of Yosemite National Park.
Now all three of these features are set for the ax, along with any “trophies” or virtual rewards users received from completing those challenges. Users can still join smaller closed groups, but the open groups feature is where people go to connect with other like-minded Fitbit users around the world, all participating in the same challenges and adventures.
A statement from Fitbit on the community forums (opens in new tab) said: “We are working hard behind the scenes to improve the Fitbit app with Google technology this year. As a result, we’re streamlining parts of the Fitbit app,” including Challenges and Adventures.
Fitbit did state that users “can still create a closed group of your friends and connect with other users in the Fitbit community on our Health & Wellness forums” and “can still compete with friends on your leaderboard and earn badges.” earn for personal achievement.” It also provided information on how to download your data before the features disappear (fitbit.com/settings/data/export, if you’re curious).
9to5Google (opens in new tab) also reports that Fitbit Studio, the browser-based way to create third-party apps and watch faces for Fitbit, will be shutting down on April 20. We could see this coming, as Fitbit’s most recent watches, the Fitbit Sense 2 and Fitbit Versa 4, both lack third-party app support and Google has its own Wear OS to take care of. However, there was no mention of this in the announcement above, most likely because this is not a change for the user, but for the developer.
However, users are not happy with these changes, especially with the deletion of challenges. A post on Reddit (opens in new tab) shows Fitbit’s Features Suggestions page full of pleas to keep Challenges, and the Fitbit community forums are confused as well. While Fitbit likes to emphasize that some features are still active, such as the forums and private groups, the logical question is “how much longer?”
Analysis: better integration, but at what cost?
In the rush to integrate Fitbit into the wider Google ecosystem, parent company Alphabet has been scrapping the important Fitbit feature left and right. Cutting off Fitbit’s music capabilities are another example of Alphabet stranding Fitbit owners, pushing them to the Wear OS Pixel Watch, and now Google has struck again.
Fitbit owners are right to be angry, as many of these features were advertised as included with the device, and people based their initial purchases on being able to use them. People use the Challenges features to motivate themselves and each other to stay active, and open groups allow participants to connect with other Fitbit users around the world. It gives the app a sense of community, and instead of incorporating that community into the Google family, Alphabet has chosen to uproot it in favor of progress.
Google’s message seems to be that it doesn’t need or care about current Fitbit users. Unsurprisingly, if you read the forums and Reddit posts, many people are considering switching to Apple or Garmin. Google’s treatment of Fitbit does nothing to instill a sense of loyalty to the brand. It even included a link at the end of the email and forum post, informing users how to delete their account if they were not happy with the change.
While there’s significant overlap between Fitbit’s watches and Google’s own Pixel Watch, it doesn’t seem like the two brands can stay side by side in Google’s stable for long. Fitbit accounts require Google logins starting this year and we’ll likely see more changes very soon. Alphabet is going to scorch the earth with Fitbit, content to burn it down and alienate its existing user base while doing so – a baffling move from a business perspective and a heartbreaking one in the eyes of longtime users.