June 25, 2014
Google previews Google Fit and Google I/O.
As expected Google gave a preview of its digital health and fitness platform today at the Google I/O developer's conference. Also, as expected, it's exactly like Apple's HealthKit.
“We want to help users keep track of their fitness goals,” Ellie Powers, product manager for Google Play, said. “So we're providing a single set of APIs to manage fitness data from apps and sensors on both cross platform devices and on wearables.”
Google was short on many specifics about Google Fit, saying only that it will give users the ability to give fitness apps access to their entire health data stream. Google also announced that Adidas would be opening up its line of smart sensors to developers. It was also announced that Nike, who seemed to have put all its chips in with Apple, will be allowing Google Fit to integrate with NikeFuel and Nike's fitness devices. While Powers did not go into any great detail, Google also announced partnerships with a number of big consumer companies including Intel, LG, Asus, HTC, and Motorola around Google Fit.
LG, Samsung, and Motorola have all announced that they will be releasing new smartwatches this year that will be capable of running health and fitness apps.They will run as a part of Google's newly-announced open software platform for wearable devices called Android Wear.
No rollout date was given for Google Fit, but the platform preview software development kit will be available in a few weeks, according to Powers.
It should be no surprise that Google wouldn't sit idly by while Apple positioned itself as the go-to digital health platform for consumers. What is surprising is to see such a vanilla digital health product coming from a company that Medtronic has called its next big rival. While Google's R&D has given us Google Glass, self-driving cars, and the possibility of contact lenses that monitor blood glucose levels, it seems the company is content to let third-party developers have all of the fun in the mHealth space for now.
While there will certainly be some future integration with Google Glass and any healthcare apps with Google Fit in the future, what's so disappointing by this announcement is that Google has always positioned itself to be a more forward-thinking company. We expect these sort of incremental “innovations” from Apple, who has has never made any bones about being only a computer hardware/software company. But Google's loftier ambitions have always been what sets it apart in many consumers' minds. After all, no one protested Apple's developer conference claiming the company is building killer robots for the NSA.
Maybe it's still too early to make a judgement, but right now Google's ambitions toward digital health aren't very becoming.
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