The Google Fit service will debut at the Google I/O conference for developers this week, according to Forbes. That suggests Google aims to compete with Apple and Samsung in becoming the leading choice for unifying all your personal health data, allowing the companies to track details such as how many steps you took yesterday, your heart rate during your last run, or your weight changes over the past month.
It's unknown whether Google Fit would only exist as a service within the next version of Android or become available as a standalone app for Android users to download. But Forbes managed to obtain some details about how the service could work:
"One source with knowledge of Google’s plans said Google Fit would allow a wearable device that measures data like steps or heart rate to interface with Google’s cloud-based services, and become part of the Google Fit ecosystem."
Google Fit could be poised to compete with Apple's HealthKit service, which also aims at sharing data among various fitness and health trackers. Samsung has introduced a similar service called Sami that collects biometric data from various devices.
A company that succeeds in creating one health service to rule all the wearable fitness and health trackers must account for a large array of devices. The current market already includes a bewildering variety of such wearable gadgets in the form of wristbands, clip-ons, and smart watches. Google is even working on a smart contact lens capable of measuring blood sugar levels in a person's tears as a painless alternative to finger prick devices for people with diabetes.
Any health service would still have to work around figuring out privacy safeguards for all the health data they scrape together. But such services may at least escape some of the more strenuous U.S. regulatory guidelines. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already added several new exceptions for mobile medical apps that it won't regulate as a medical device. At least one exception seems to fit the description of Apple's HealthKit service, according to MobiHealthNews. If that's the case, Google Fit may also escape harsh regulatory scrutiny.
Jeremy Hsu has been working as a science and technology journalist in New York City since 2008. He has written on subjects as diverse as supercomputing and wearable electronics for IEEE Spectrum. When he’s not trying to wrap his head around the latest quantum computing news for Spectrum, he also contributes to a variety of publications such as Scientific American, Discover, Popular Science, and others. He is a graduate of New York University’s Science, Health & Environmental Reporting Program.