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Healthtech today: What role does Apple Health & Google Fit play?

Nisha Gopinath Menon
March 9, 2022

Apple Healthkit and Google Fit are the underlying platforms powering various wearable technologies. However, both the Google Fit app and Apple’s Health App can be used as a mobile-based fitness tracker, where it can track essential fitness elements, without any need for separate wearable tech to do the tracking even. Google Fit is successfully gaining traction now even with less publicity.

The fitness craze that surrounds us generated a lot of data that was, up until a while back, spread through several different apps or tools. Apple HealthKit and Google Fit offer viable solutions to aggregate and consolidate this data. Apple HealthKit is a developer framework, a set of services and tools that manufacturers and developers require to make their apps and devices compatible with Apple's Health app. Many manufacturers, developers, and health service providers have enabled their services or products with HealthKit support. Google Fit is now available on iOS. It was missing from the iOS ecosystem for a long time, but now it’s available there too. With the help of Google Maps integration and Android’s open nature, the Fit app is full of functions on its native platform.

Using the GPS, accelerometer, and other sensors in the smartphone, both apps keep tabs on standard activity and baseline. They track things like the type of activity one is participating in, height, weight, steps taken, active time, distance traveled, calories burned, and elevation climbed. The health tracking becomes more comprehensive when paired with a wearable or a third-party app as it allows for data that can't be captured by the phone itself, giving a complete view on one’s current well-being.

The main difference between Google and Apple platforms is that Apple is primarily focusing on medical data, and Google is focused on the fitness aspect of digital health. Google has developed its own platform to be much more of a health app in its own right while Apple Health simply reports trends taken from your other health apps and wearables.

How do HealthKit and Google Fit aid fitness and medical app development?

The health-care industry is very keen on the ways in which these platforms can change the present ecosystem. By providing a standardized storage mechanism and format for health data, Google Fit and HealthKit should be able to facilitate the development of devices and apps that can share health data with each other. Without needing to worry about transferring all their data, users can also look forward to switching between different apps. In a general sense, these 2 platforms overlap somewhat, but there's still a critical difference both in their major functions and the type of data each record.

Google Fit is focused on an activity tracking app that can visualize all aggregated, recorded data. There has been no focus yet on the medical field that Apple has with HealthKit. Rather, Google Fit seems to be a way for you and me to take fitness data from third-party apps and devices and merge it all together in one accessible and convenient place.  Apple is focused on making health data available to individuals and institutions that can provide care and offering a more comprehensive picture of one’s health. It is a convenient way to relay important health information to hospitals and doctors.

Though they do seem to have the best chance at winning the health-tracking game, Google and Apple are not alone in their health-tech journey. Samsung already has its own health platform, Sami, and its Gear wristlet. Microsoft is working on its smartwatch, and Qualcomm has Toq.

It's not surprising that the giant tech companies are making a dedicated foray into health as Health-care spending across the world is rapidly increasing. And existing health-care systems have been resistant to technological change because of regulatory hurdles, even about something as simple as doctors sending emails to patients. Many factors contribute to this sluggishness, including privacy concerns, HIPAA statutes, and FDA compliance. But with the increasing realization that a good portion of health care is preventative at the consumer level, this is changing. VC investments in health-tech have also grown considerably, so the HealthKits and the Google Fits of the world have enough venture-backed competition, validating the market.

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Nisha Gopinath Menon