Fitness and health-related apps are gaining more traction with the dawn of wearable technology. They are taking the quantified self phenomenon to another level.
The problem has been that each app is its own entity with its own users in separate silo. You might have an app to measure your steps during the day, another app to log your food consumption and a third one to measure your weight from your smart scale. You end up having lots of separate data.
Both Apple and Google have started addressing the problem with new frameworks for developers. Apple's solution is called HealthKit which was covered in an earlier blog post. Google's answer is Google Fit.
Google Fit is an "open ecosystem" that allows developers to store users fitness data from their apps in a centralized way where other apps can request access to that data allowing more co-operative apps and insight into the data.
The platform consists of:
- The Fitness store, which is a cloud service that acts as the central repository for the persistent data.
- Google Fit APIs that provide both Android and REST APIs to access the fitness store. The new APIs are a part of Play Services.
- Permissions and user controls that provide access control and getting consent from the user. Google Fit requires user consent before apps can read or store fitness data to the central repository. There are 3 different permission groups with separate read and write privileges: activity, location and body. Each permission grants access to a set of data types. Users can also delete their fitness data whenever they want.
- Sensor framework provides the high-level APIs for different sensors on mobile devices and wearables. The APIs expose the sensors as data sources to Fit APIs. There are four kinds of high-level objects: data sources, data types, data points and sessions. There are types for instantaneous data reading and aggregate statistics over time. Examples of data types include: location, heart rate, calories expended and speed. To learn more, head out to the developer documentation at https://developers.google.com/fit/android/data-types
A number of existing fitness app brands announced that they will support Google Fit in their apps at the Google I/O 2014 Keynote including Noom, Adidas, Nike, Polar, Runtastic, Runkeeper, Withings and many more.
With wearable technology on the verge of becoming mass market, we can be sure to see developments in this space in the coming year. Google have their Android Wear (and Glass) platforms which integrate nicely to Fit. Apple is expected to come out with their solution for the wearable space and the industry is waiting for Microsoft's response.