2015-01-25

Garmin Connect and Google Fit

Ooo, look, it's a new blog feature! Notice: at the right-hand side of my blog there now exists a Strava widget! This new widget reports some generic running data accumulated from my recent training. Now you can keep me honest.

If you're like me, you've been searching for a way to get Garmin Connect - Garmin's personal health data interface - with Google Fit, which is Google's entry into the same world. Also, if you're like the me of yesterday, you haven't yet found a way to do that. But, lucky you, the me of today has got some great news: I figured out a way to get all these applications to communicate with each other, at least until they formally amalgamate in Google's or Apple's or Facebook's quest to own all personal data from all human beings.

Why Would You Want To Do This?

Well, you might not want to, especially if you are especially concerned about data privacy. To be honest, though, the potential benefits to people like myself, who are both data-geeks and health geeks, are enormous. Diabetes is, after all, largely a data management game. If you can manage your calories, and your macronutrient balance, and your fitness activity, and your sleeping patterns, and your stress levels, etc., etc., etc., then you can manage your blood sugar effectively. It's all a data game: adjust your bio-markers and profit.

Personally, I've found this useful in the non-health sphere as well. My Nexus phone, for example, has the ability to detect traffic jams long before I ever hit them - and automatically re-route me on the way to work, home, or wherever else I happen to be. It sends me bill reminders, weather notifications for where I'll be, and so on.

Simply put, it does a lot of menial thinking for me, that I don't necessarily need to do myself. This, in turn, frees my mind up for more complicated thoughts, such as how I might want to invest, or whatever music I happen to be writing. Or whatever.

More practically, it is exhausting to try to log every piece of health data on a hundred different health apps. Wouldn't it be great to log something once, in one place, and have that data filter through to every other application that requires it?

Problem: Garmin and Google Aren't On Speaking Terms - Yet.

I use MyFitnessPal for calorie tracking, and Garmin Connect for everything else. When I noticed the Google Fit app on my Nexus, I thought it might be a good central location for all this data activity. I cannot confirm that it is, because I haven't had a chance to really use it yet. Why not? Because, although MyFitnessPal and Garmin Connect talk to each other easily, neither one can sync with Google Fit.

So one solution would be to just grin and bear it, hoping that some day, all these apps decide to talk to each other.

Another solution is to find a work-around. I'm a business analyst by trade (well... along with a bunch of other stuff...), so finding work-arounds comes natural to me.

Solution: Another 3rd-Party App!

Okay, I didn't say it was a particularly elegant solution, did I?

The way I've managed to accomplish a "full sync" of data is by adding a new app to my arsenal: Strava. Strava works more or less the same way as RunKeeper, or MapMyRun, or indeed even Garmin Connect. It tracks your running and cycling activity (using your phone's GPS info, for example) and reports it in a handy graphical interface, along with some meaningless bells and whistles such as "award" and "achievements" and so on.

Strava's primary advantage is that it has the power to communicate with Garmin Connect, MyFitnessPal, and Google Fit. That makes it something of a "Rosetta stone" for all my fitness data. Hooray for me.

So, the steps for achieving this are as follows:
  1. Add the Garmin Connect, MyFitnessPal, and Strava apps to your Android phone.
  2. In the "Settings" of your Strava app, connect it to both MyFitnessPal and Google Fit (they will show up automatically in your settings menu).
  3. Using a web browser, log-in to your Strava account and click on the plus sign at the top-right, on the option that says "Upload Activity."
  4. On that page, you should see a link to Garmin with a box that says "Get Started." Click "Get Started" and follow the instructions. You will be taken to a Garmin pop-up that will authorize the sync to and from Strava.
  5. That's it, you're done!

Conclusion

Time will see how this pans out for me. I might not like Google Fit. I might not like Strava. I might not like having all my data synced up. This is just an experiment. Ryan self-experiments so that his readers don't have to, that sort of thing. I'll keep you all (all two of you?) updated on how this goes. So far, so good...