How Does Syncing your Fitness Tracker or Smartwatch work?

How Does Syncing your Fitness Tracker or Smartwatch work?

When it comes to fitness tracking your device’s app isn’t always enough. You often find yourself looking for more and frankly when you’re trying to live a healthier and more active lifestyle, your step count just doesn’t cut it.

We want more challenges, increased insights, additional features or maybe even a supportive community that can keep you accountable. So often we turn to third party apps for just this, but when we find ourselves trying to link and sync our devices it can get confusing.

How does this all work? Does my device directly connect to the third party app? What do I have to do, if anything, to get my data onto that app?

How Does Your Device Track Your Steps

Let’s start with the basics. How does any of this even work? When your fitness tracker sits quietly on your wrist what is actually happening?

Most devices on the market come with an accelerometer and a gyroscope. The 3-axis accelerometer tracks movement in every direction, while the gyroscope measures rotation and orientation. These two work together to track the steps you’re taking and the distance you’re moving. Some devices can also track your altitude, cadence and heart rate. The more sensors you have, the more accurate the data collected is.

How Does my Device Sync to my Phone App?

fitness-tracker-syncing-to-phone-man-workout

Devices use bluetooth syncing to connect your tracker to your app. Therefore, you’ll need to turn your bluetooth settings on and connect your device in that way. Battery is severely impacted by syncing from the tracking device to the phone over bluetooth. For this reason, most trackers don’t push data to the phone in real-time, but rather trigger it when you open your app, or periodically.

Once you’ve been connected this is how you’ll see your steps appear in your app. It’s important to make sure to let your device fully sync up before closing the app. When the app syncs the data from your device it will then be stored in your device’s cloud, a non-tangible location where all your data can be digitally held for storing or sharing. Not all devices have a user- accessible cloud.

How Does Syncing Work with Third Party Apps (like us!)

Now for the good stuff- How do you get your steps from your tracker to sync up to Stridekick, or another third party app? Well- that’s simple, for us anyways… the devices on the other hand not so much.

For Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin and other device users, you will first need to give permission to the third party app to get your data. Third party apps almost never have direct access to the device for both security and battery concerns. Third party apps will usually prompt you to log into your existing device’s account during the signup process. Stridekick specifically authenticates using “oauth”, which is a secure way to allow us to retrieve granular access without having to give over your credentials. Once you connect your device and give permission for your data to be shared, the third party app will be able to access the data from your device’s cloud storage. Then your app will ping the third party app’s system when there is new data available for you. The third party app can then reach your cloud and pull in your data.

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For example, during the signup process for Stridekick, if you have a device, you’ll be prompted to log into your existing device’s account. This allows Stridekick to connect to your device cloud to pull in data. The device will then ping our system when there is new data available. Stridekick also automatically checks your device’s cloud every 10 minutes- we call this fetching your data. If you want to see your data appear quicker you can use our fetch action to pull directly from your cloud.

The third party can only collect the data from your cloud, which makes it important to sync everyday and allow for your device to go through the entirety of syncing. If you’re not completing syncing we can’t pull any of the data from your cloud.

This process is different when connecting your phone as a tracker or using an app strictly as a tracker. Some Androids and iPhones that are 5s or newer come equipped with an accelerator inside. iPhones then use the Health app for viewing and Samsung phones turn to S Health. Having the accelerometer built into the phone allows users to collect activity data without buying a wearable device, which is both cost effective and convenient. The accelerometer will collect your data daily and after you’ve connected your phone’s app to the third party app it can directly pull all of your data.

If you’re using a tracking app, such as Google Fit, this can work a bit differently as well. The Google Fit App tracks your activity and stores it on your app. The app will then push your data to their cloud, fit.google.com. When authenticating your Google Fit account it’s important to recognize that you’re connecting your cloud to the third party app. Therefore, we need your app to sync to your cloud and then we can then go pull your data from your cloud. With Google Fit we’ve been seeing a huge lag in sync times between your Fit app and it’s cloud. For accurate pushing of data it may be useful to manually sync your data from your Fit app to your cloud.

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For both the moves app and using your phone as a tracker it’s important you have your phone on you for the most accurate readings. This proves difficult considering you may not take your phone with you everywhere you travel.

And last, but most important: sync daily, even multiple times a day. Understanding your activity patterns helps you to take a deeper dive into your health and well-being.

If you have any questions on how to connect your device to Stridekick you can email us at: stridekick.team@stridekick.mail.intercom.io, our support team would be happy to help you!

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Stridekick is an online and mobile platform that allows individuals to create and join fun fitness challenges regardless of which wearable device they own or level of fitness. Join a community of other health minded individuals in stepping towards your health goals today!
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