As if Google didn't dominate enough of our life, the technology behemoth is now moving into fitness. Like two other technology heavyweights—Apple (which recently announced the launch of its HealthKit app) and Facebook (which acquired fitness app Moves in April)—the search engine and advertising company clearly sees a huge business opportunity in getting more people moving and living healthier lives.
At the company's annual I/O Conference for developers yesterday, Google introduced its next piece of technology: Google Fit, a health and fitness platform that, when fully launched, will be an aggregator for physical health data. Google itself describes Google Fit as "an open platform that lets users control their fitness data." Starting this fall it will also be a place where developers can "build smarter apps and manufacturers [can] focus on creating amazing devices."
As an aggregator of health and fitness data—miles walked, calories burned, hours slept—Google Fit wants to provide users with a better, more complete picture of their overall physical health. TechCrunch reported that "Google Fit will allow developers to sync data across wearables and devices," like a Fitbit or Jawbone Up. Since the leading fitness wearables currently work only within their own ecosystem, cross-platform devices would be a welcome innovation.
The question is: What does Google Fit mean for you, if anything?
Right now, it doesn't mean much, since Google's focus is really on making it easier for developers—the technical folks—to use data from users in ways that are more innovative.
Eventually, what it could mean for consumers is that we might be able to, say, better connect our fitness data with our medical records, or use stats about how much we run or what we eat to get a very personalized health program based on our preferences and personal medical history. Or maybe crunching numbers about how we live, exercise, and work could tell us things about ourselves we never knew.
Research does show that keeping track of health and fitness can help sustain motivation and form healthy-living habits, but you don't need an app or fancy device to do that. You can write it in a notebook, in your phone, or on a calendar on the fridge. What's most important is that you track what you're doing—not how you track it.
Whether Google Fit will cost anything for consumers or how the privacy of your personal fitness and health data will be protected are unknown. Google has already partnered on Google Fit with many of the major players in the fitness self-tracking world, including Nike+, RunKeeper, Withings, and Basis, as well as Motorola, Intel, LG, HTC, and other sports and fitness brands like Adidas. With that sort of reach, Google Fit—like pretty much everything Google does—has the potential to be a real game-changer in the world of fitness.
Photos courtesy of Google and Apple