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Are You Ready To Hand Google All Your Fitness Data If Apps Use The Latest Android API?

Jan 17 2014, 6:31pm CST | by

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Are You Ready To Hand Google All Your Fitness Data If Apps Use The Latest Android API?
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Are You Ready To Hand Google All Your Fitness Data If Apps Use The Latest Android API?

One of the hardware innovations to be found in Apple’s latest portable devices is the M7 co-processor. This chip collects data from the motion based sensors in the iOS hardware, including the magnetometer, accelerometers, and GPS output. By using the M7 to store and process data while the device is in standby mode, it increases the battery life without affecting performance of the iOS devices when in regular use. It also provides hooks for developers to work on quantified self apps with the knowledge that the data can be collected through the day without a significant drain on a mobile device’s resources.

Some of the new API’s detailed today on the unofficial Google Operating System blog  point out Google’s reply to the M7 chip, and it appears to be based around a new fitness API. This will gather in data from the sensors in the Android device, and potentially wearable sensors such as heart rate monitors and motion tracking clips that are paired with the handsets for later processing and analysis by applications that access the data via the API.

There is no word when this fitness API would be available for developers or consumers to interact with. Neither is there any word on how it will be implemented (but my money is the API being part of the Google Play Support Services so Google can restrict access to the API). The process of monitoring personal fitness on Android has already started, with a basic step counter featuring as part of Android 4.4, but the move to provide a full API is expected after Apple’s play with the M7 chip and the rise of wearable technology in the last twelve months.

It will be interesting to see if these changes are rolled out in time for the wave of Android devices sure to be announced at the Mobile World Congress next month, or if this is a longer play for Google that won’t come to fruition until the handsets for Q4 2014 are available in significant numbers.

The actual step of hardware integration is going to be left to the manufacturers. There’s a clear bias towards Android in the wearables movement (I suspect because the Android OS is more accessible and easier to ‘hook’ code into). With a fitness API the hooks to bring the data from the wearable into the smartphone or tablet will be easier .

While it’s not the same as the dedicated hardware and software support that Apple can offer, by creating a single point of contact for developers to access relevant data for healthy measured living, Google hopes to attract many start-ups and small companies to Android as the platform for the fitness app.  What is clear is that Google is reacting to the wearable movement by providing a software platform that will allow interoperability between various handsets and devices. It will become an integral part of the Android OS. And there’s every likelihood that Google will pool all this data  on their servers and associated it with your Google account.

I will be interested to see which manufacturers end up using Google’s solution, and which of them will continue to roll their own solution to keep control of the customer in their own software ecosystem.

I will also be very interested to see how many people are happy to make use of this fitness API in exchange for Google having access to data from their own body.

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