Google Unveils Unfinished Google Fit API

Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O, kicked off today and the search giant took the opportunity to formally resurrect its long forgotten health IT ambitions in the form of Google Fit. Rumors have swelled for the weeks leading up to Google I/O that the company was putting something together to answer to Apple’s HealthKit announcement, and in this case the rumors proved to be accurate.

Google Fit is exactly what it was rumored to be, a submerged API-based health data aggregator that collects information from apps and wearable devices and then, based on a users privacy settings,  shares it with other fitness apps. It offers the exact same services that Apple’s HealthKit offers but in the Android ecosystem. Like Apple, Google spent time discussing its early third-party supporters, during which the company spent plenty of time reiterating that it had recruited Nike as an early supporter of the Google Fit platform. Nike will make its Fuel score, a proprietary unit of measure created by Nike to quantify overall fitness, available to other health app developers for inclusion in their apps. Google will also integrate with other consumer devices like Withing’s wireless scale. The announcement of Google Fit took about three minutes, and was a near replica of the Apple announcement of HealthKit.

The one key difference between Google’s announcement and Apple’s is that Google does not have a usable product at this point. Instead of unveiling their new fitness platform, the company announced the underlying concepts that will be included in the platform, and is promising to have it ready for developers to begin using within a few weeks.  For now, programmers are likely still putting the finishing touches on a new service that is clearly inspired by Apple’s own HealthKit, which was shrouded in secrecy until just a few weeks ago. Regardless of Google’s questionable inspiration and its lack of a tangible final product to demo, the introduction of the new feature is good news for digital health, as it firmly establishes that moving forward, any health data that makes its way onto a consumer device will be sharable and will be controlled by the owner of that data.

One omission from the presentation was whether Google Fit would be available in Android Wear, Google’s next-generation wearable’s OS. Android Wear powers Google’s newly unveiled smartwatch as well as Google Glass, and confirming that the new health data API is available to developers focused on those wearable platforms will be a question left until the final product is ready and Google Fit is truly unveiled.

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