Activity tracking device maker Fitbit has announced a major upgrade this week, its devices now wirelessly sync to Android devices using Bluetooth 4.0. At launch, syncing will be enabled for the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note II, with more promised to come.
Just like they do now with iOS devices (and the Microsoft Surface tablet), the Fitbit One, Fitbit Zip, and the forthcoming Fitbit Flex will sync automatically whenever they’re near a compatible device, to transmit data about steps taken, stairs climbed, calories burned, and more. Data syncing will take about 30 seconds, according to the company, although the company hopes to cut that time down in a future update.
Fitbit will take the wireless syncing one step further when the Fitbit Flex is released. The device will be enabled with NFC connectivity, allowing the bracelet to sync with Android devices just by being held up against the phone.
Health app developers and connected device makers tend to develop for iOS first. This is partly because developers find it easier to work with Apple’s suite of devices, rather than the many different devices that run the Android operating system.
The Fitbit team wrote on their blog that they started working on Android syncing the same time that they began working on that feature for iOS devices, but Android presented additional challenges.
“Currently, the Android OS does not provide apps with access to the Bluetooth 4.0 chips in newer phones. To work around this, some phones instead have custom software that provides access to Bluetooth 4.0. Since this software is different for each phone, our team has worked on developing a solution for each phone independently,” they wrote.
The timing of Fitbit’s announcement is somewhat fortuitous for the company, coming just two days after Nike+ made it clear that they have no plans to create a FuelBand app for Android, despite previous statements to the contrary.