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I was using the Google Fit app on my Android phone for a while to track my steps.

Later, when I got an Android Wear watch, I decided to track my steps on it rather than the phone. My watch is on me all day, not my phone. I uninstalled Fit on my phone since I had no further need for it, and because I didn't want my steps double-counted by both the watch and the phone.

But the Fit app on my watch asked me to install Fit on my paired Android phone.

I was stuck for a few days, and I eventually thought, "Screw it, if it double-counts, it double-counts, but let me try it." When I installed Fit on my phone, I discovered to my surprise that Fit on the phone works with Fit on the watch to avoid this double-counting problem.

It was seamless. But I didn't know it was seamless, which prevented me from making progress for a few days.

So, the question is: if an app takes care of a particular problem in a seamless manner (without the user having to think about it), should it tell the user in case they have a concern about that? In this case, it might say, "Fit on the watch works with Fit on the phone to track your steps as long as at least one device is with you. If both are, your steps won't be double-counted." This solves the problem for me, but may confuse other users who weren't worried about double-counting to begin with.

This seems like a no-win situation. Say nothing, and people like me will get stuck. Point it out, and people who didn't think of it will get confused and potentially stuck.

Is there a way out? How would you have designed Google Fit to solve the problem highlighted in bold above?

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As it stands, the synchronization between the phone and watch apps is a hidden feature which solves a real problem. Hidden features reduce market share because prospects who desire the feature, like you did, may reject the product if they are unaware that it matches their needs.

I think you are right about the need to surface this information but I don't agree that this is a no-win situation. If this information is surfaced as a feature users/prospects shouldn't become confused. The source of confusion with the messaging you suggested is that it focuses on a problem that may not be familiar to all users. A simple rewrite can fix that:

Fit on your phone and watch are synched, so your steps are always accurately tracked. Your steps will always be counted once.

I would include this information when the app prompted you to install the matching app on your paired device. Since this is the point at which users aware of a potential problem, would likely need an assurance that Fit addresses the problem before proceeding. I would also include it in feature listings in marketing materials so that prospects can access the information as well.

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