Fitbit solved a big annoyance with wearables. Why haven’t Google or Apple followed suit?

Fitbit Sense and Apple Watch Series 6 watch face display 2

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The bane of my existence as a tech is switching my primary phone. I always do a clean install, so he has to take a day off to get things done properly, with no backups or restores. You don’t want to unfairly judge your new phone by carrying residual bugs and issues from one device to another.

Install apps, set up login and preferences, transfer WhatsApp, make sure your Bluetooth headset and earbuds are paired, set up smart home gadgets that require location and local control, and much more. I have. Obstacle: my wearable.

Switching to a new phone will already take some time before factoring in the hassle of re-pairing your smartwatch or tracker.

Fitbit works fine there. Pair your activity tracker or watch to your new phone in minutes. Samsung, Google (and all Wear OS watches) and Apple are not. You need to wipe your smartwatch before pairing it with your new phone. why?

How Fitbit handles pairing with new phones

This is how Fitbit works. Open his Fitbit app on his new smartphone and log into his account. My data is immediately there and my band (now old and worn Inspire HR) is shown but not paired. Tap its name and enable the Nearby permission to allow the app to scan for Bluetooth devices. It will find your Fitbit and ask you to pair it. A few taps and you’re all done. The 6 screenshots above show the entire flow taking 5 minutes. at most.

Fitbit offers a seamless transition between smartphones. No backups, resets, or restores.

Your Inspire HR has been synced to your new phone and nothing has changed on the tracker itself, so it carries all your settings and data. No need to back up, reset, restore, or perform any other additional steps. It’s a quasi-seamless transition and works the same with any Fitbit activity tracker or smartwatch I’ve used.

As far as I can tell, Garmin handles things relatively similarly to Fitbit, with one extra step. Before pairing with your new phone, you need to unpair the band or watch from your old phone first, but you don’t need to reset it.

Samsung, Apple and Google Ways

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 next to Google Pixel 6a shows watch restoration process

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

This same transition is much more cumbersome with the Apple Watch and the latest Samsung Galaxy Watch models. You should access the watch app on your old phone and back up your data. Then pick up your watch and reset it. As if this is a brand new smartwatch, it often needs to be set up. After that, you can pair the watch with your new phone, check all the menus there as well, and when the problem is finally resolved, you can choose to restore the backup.

Moving your Galaxy Watch, Apple Watch, or Wear OS watch to a new phone is complicated and time-consuming.

Overall, you should allow anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to do this. One YouTuber said it took him 56 minutes for the major steps of the restoration process on his Apple Watch. I’m running it on my Galaxy Watch 4 as I write this. It’s stuck for 10 minutes at 33% of the watch face restoration steps and is counting (see image above). How long it will stay there is anyone’s guess. If it doesn’t work, I have to reset the clock and try again.

The whole process is unnecessarily complicated, time consuming and potentially buggy. It seems like in the late 90’s or early 00’s he had to reset a Bluetooth gadget before pairing it with a new device. Twenty years have passed since then.

It seems like the early 2000s when you had to reset your Bluetooth gadget before re-pairing it.

I’m not talking about other Wear OS watches. Google’s platform doesn’t include a backup/restore process by default, so watchmakers have to do it themselves. And many people clearly don’t. So over the past few years, many watches have required me to set everything up from scratch: watch faces, apps, shortcuts, settings. (I know there are workarounds for ADB to pair without resetting, but they often cause problems later.)

Will the Pixel Watch fix this?

New Google Hardware Pixel 7 Pro Pixel Watch

We have many questions about the Google Pixel Watch, and this is one of them. How will Google’s new smartwatch handle the transition between phones?Will Google borrow his Fitbit’s seamless approach?After all, he owns a Fitbit now so it’s not a big deal. Or do you stick to the tried-and-true “just set it up from scratch” approach? It took me (almost) ten years to learn. It may take another decade to get it right in other product categories.

Want to seamlessly transfer and pair your Pixel Watch to your new phone?

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I’m also curious about the future of Google’s ecosystem. The manufacturer knows he will have to create his own app for his Wear OS 3.0 watches, as this update is not compatible with his existing one-size-fits-all Wear OS app. So while some manufacturers may decide to implement a quick and easy transition to new phones, others may not.

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