Fitbit wearables could soon get this big upgrade

Fitbit Versa 3 review
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Update: Fitbit accounts are shutting down — what you need to know.

Since completing the $2.1 billion purchase of Fitbit, Google hasn’t done much with it. Yes, it appears Fitbit will be part of the upcoming Pixel Watch in terms of app integration and complications, but so far the wearable maker has broadly been left to its own devices.

Now there’s some evidence that Fitbit may be taking a very small first step towards promoting its new parent company’s interests. A breakdown of the latest Google Play Services software by 9to5Google shows evidence that Google Wallet is going to be added to Fitbit Pay, offering ways to pay that currently aren’t supported.

The site found and enabled a hidden menu which shows Google Wallet on a square watch that looks an awful lot like the upcoming Fitbit Versa 4 and Sense 2 (which, of course, look very similar to their predecessors).

Fitbit on Google Wallet

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

This likeness isn’t a coincidence: the graphics of these are labeled “Fitbit watch illustration” within the code.

Fitbit Pay has been a part of the company’s high-end wearables since the Fitbit Ionic came out in late 2017. It’s based on tech from Coin — a business Fitbit purchased the year before — and allows payments from the wrist via NFC. 

The number of supported banks varies dramatically by country. While the US has an extremely healthy number, in the UK where I am, the options are considerably more sparse. Google Wallet would certainly be preferable for me and — I imagine — most British users.

The feature is, the site reckons, in early development, so it’s hard to draw any certain conclusions about how it’ll be integrated. The current working theory is that it will be part of Fitbit Pay, rather than directly replacing it, however — as evidenced by the code reading ‘<string name=”fitbit_payment_methods”>Fitbit Wallet</string>’

That may sound a little underwhelming, as it would mean that Google Wallet is just another payment option, rather than including things like non-payment cards and passes. But as 9to5Google points out, there is one big advantage to integration rather than replacement: it would be backwards compatible with older devices using Fitbit Pay. That means most of the best fitbits, not just the Ionic, but multiple generations of Versa and Charge devices will get it.

Speaking of the company’s premium fitness band line, 9to5Google found that “Charge 6” is listed as a device within the software. 

Fitbit on Google Wallet

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

While it seems pretty inevitable that Fitbit will release the sixth Charge at some point, it’s not clear whether this is a placeholder or something that’s being actively worked on. 

The Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 seem set to be the company’s next devices, but we’ll likely see Google’s first Pixel Watch arriving before either. The wearable has been promised a fall release, alongside the Pixel 7.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.