Fitbit for Windows Phone grabs background-sync, Cortana integration, and support for new trackers

This morning, Microsoft and Fitbit have announced a major update for the current Windows Phone app in addition to a forthcoming overhaul to the Windows 8.1 Modern one. The Windows Phone app update is live right now while the Windows 8.1 app redo is expected in early November.

In addition, support for Fitbit's latest trackers, including the just announced Fitbit Charge, Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge, is included in this latest round of updates (Surge support due upon release of the tracker).

Windows Phone's new features

Microsoft and Fitbit are clearly working more closely together as the two companies are going beyond basic app support for the fitness tracker app, adding unique features to the Windows Phone version. Today's update also brings the Windows Phone up back to parity with Android and iOS with the addition of Challenges and other new features.

The major update today from Fitbit includes the following new features

  • Cortana : Available today in beta, Fitbit has worked closely with Microsoft to create a custom experience for Cortana inside the Fitbit app to make tracking food and activities more efficient. By speaking to Cortana, users can quickly log any of the 350,000 foods in the Fitbit database, all while using natural language like "Fitbit, I ate lasagna for dinner" or "Fitbit, I had a coffee with breakfast." Users can also create silent alarms for Fitbit trackers
  • Fitbit Challenges : Fitbit's newest app addition brings even more motivation and fun to Fitbit's Windows Phone app (as well as to iOS and Android apps). With Fitbit Challenges, users can directly compete with up to 10 friends and family to help meet and beat goals in new competitions, including Daily Showdown, Workweek Hustle and Weekend Warrior
  • MobileTrack : With MobileTrack, Windows Phone users without a Fitbit can still get in on the action. Mobile devices with MobileTrack use Microsoft's Motion Data (SensorCore) to track steps directly from the smartphone (Microsoft Lumia phones only)
  • Background Sync and Push Notifications : Users can now experience background syncing and push notifications for Challenges, messages, progress updates and more
  • New Language Support : Initially available worldwide in English, the Fitbit app for Windows Phone now offers French, German, Italian and Spanish languages

Roadmap and Windows 8.1 app update

The Fitbit app for Windows 8.1 has not had a significant update in quite some time, although that is about to change. The new app due in the coming weeks gets a new UI and updated features. The UI changes also work their way into the Windows Phone app, likely in December.

From our discussions with Fitbit, it is clear that Microsoft and the health tracker company have a reliable roadmap laid out, with continued and dedicated support for the mobile platform. Some new features were also announced for the Windows 8.1 app, including:

  • Additional Cortana Functionality: Building off of existing food logging and alarms functionality, upcoming Cortana features will include activity logging and the ability to enable exercise mode, all through voice commands (December 2014)
  • Support for New Fitbit Products: In addition to existing Fitbit products, Windows Phone users will have immediate syncing with Fitbit Charge beginning today. Support for Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge, as well as heart rate tracking, will be live once these products are available
  • Windows App: Windows 8.1 desktop, laptop and tablet users will experience a new Fitbit app for Windows 8.1, completely remade with a new design and better functionality. No longer just a window to stats, the tablet app leverages Microsoft's universal Windows application platform to deliver a rich and authentic Fitbit experience. Features will include manual logging of activities, food, sleep, weight and water, as well as Challenges (November 2014)
  • MobileRun: Windows Phone 8.1 users can access MobileRun, which uses GPS to track, log and compare workouts. The feature also offers real-time updates while running, as well as voice cues delivering stats and providing extra encouragement to meet goals while exercising (December 2014)
  • Additional Languages : Windows Phone users will have Korean, Japanese and Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) languages (November 2014)

From a press-release from Fitbit this morning, the company commented on the Microsoft cooperation:

"We're committed to the Windows Phone community and are excited to bring these innovative features to the Fitbit experience on this platform," said James Park, CEO and Co-founder of Fitbit. "As we do across all mobile platforms, we're continuing to design features that empower people with information and motivate them to set and reach goals with fun and engaging experiences on our mobile apps. However, with the custom Cortana integration, we worked closely with Microsoft to design around its unique and innovative intelligent personal assistant technology to create an awesome experience for Fitbit users syncing to the Windows Phone platform – making it even easier for them to track and take control of their health and fitness results."

We have been using a beta of the Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 update for Fitbit and have come away impressed. Although we have always been fans of Fitbit for keeping track of footsteps, activity levels, and floors climbed the continued development of the Windows experience is a great indicator for potential customers to invest in both platforms.

The just-announced Windows Phone app update is now live in the Store. Windows Central will also keep you updated on the Windows 8.1 app overhaul as that gets closer to release.

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Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.