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Unless Samsung gets flirty with Fitbit, the Galaxy Watch 6 may fall flat
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 should hit wrists in the next month or so, and we’re much more excited to try it on than our summer swimwear. The presumably attractive device arrives still riding the coattails of a very successful Galaxy Watch 5 series. We’ve even heard rumors that we might get everyone’s favorite rotating bezel back. But one feature I personally won’t be stoked to see unimproved is Samsung Health. The companion app holds Samsung back from playing at the same level as competitors and we’re jonesing for another Wear OS watch that can tap into Fitbit’s ecosystem instead.
To be fair, Samsung Health is a viable platform for covering the basics. It’s a solid app for setting goals, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and keeping an eye on your activity stats. However, the app can be unreliable and inconsistent. Users lament wonky data, missed steps, and imperfect sleep tracking. It’s also lacking the depth shoppers can find on more robust platforms, like Apple’s or Garmin’s. Actually, compared to Garmin’s data-heavy companion app, Samsung Health is elementary at best.
The Samsung Health app remains too rudimentary compared to the platforms offered by competitors like Apple or Garmin.
What’s even less convenient is that Samsung Health doesn’t play well with others. Instead, it limits third-party app compatibility. If you want your Galaxy Watch 6 to track data beyond what Samsung Health has to offer, you may be out of luck. Some of my colleagues have even resorted to double-wristing, (one of our favorite wearable terms), sporting a Galaxy Watch on one arm and a second tracker on the other, to get the best of both worlds.
As of now, Galaxy Watch users can access Google Fit tiles but, in our opinion, these are a step in the wrong direction. We know Samsung can’t plug users into the Apple or Garmin ecosystem, but it does seem like there’s at least one more option in the Wear OS board room: Fitbit. Fitbit is a trusted and reliable industry leader when it comes to fitness tracking. Its app is user-friendly and compatible with many popular third-party platforms. I wish Fitbit hadn’t dropped its social features and challenges, but for personal tracking, it’s still a favorite of mine and many on the Android Authority team. Plus, in a world where too many are battling insomnia, anxiety, stress, and sleep deprivation, Fitbit offers some of the best sleep-tracking analyses out there.
Access to the Fitbit app on a Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 would significantly broaden the user experience and lengthen the list of prospective shoppers.
When the Pixel Watch teased onboard Fitbit apps and integration, I imagined a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, the device had some first-generation kinks to iron out, which meant the Galaxy Watch retained its market lead. This year, if Google keeps Fitbit as a Pixel Watch exclusive, it may put the Galaxy Watch at a huge disadvantage. More to the point, if a new and improved Pixel Watch 2 were to launch, it could usurp Samsung as our top pick for Wear OS devices. When you consider all of the smart features Fitbit watches have dropped the reality is even bleaker. The Pixel Watch is really the only device offering a true smartwatch experience plus Fitbit’s health and fitness tracking.
On the other hand, there’s no chance Samsung sweet talks its way into Google’s pocket and gets Fitbit to itself. What’s more plausible (not necessarily likely, but not impossible), is that Google-owned Fitbit eventually becomes available on all Wear OS devices. I wasn’t blown away by the latest TicWatch or Fossil companion apps, to take to recent examples, so Fitbit as a staple of the Android experience is an attractive prospect.
Narrowing back in on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, Fitbit integration would be a significant play. I’m not going to hold my breath for it though. Instead, I’d settle for the new series landing with improvements to the existing health app. Its current 3.5-star rating in the Google Play Store is ugly, but not undeserved. It’s especially concerning for an app associated with something as pricey as a Galaxy Watch. In addition to reliable stats, we’re hoping for more thorough and personal analysis, digestible trends, and unique niche features.