Google expected to push Android into health, wearables during I/O event this week

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is scheduled to kick off its annual I/O developer conference on Wednesday and is widely expected to announce a new venture into healthcare, as well as tout new wearable devices from Samsung, LG and others. The company could also offer a glimpse into its plans to push Android into TVs and possibly home-automation products.

Specifically, Google is expected to announce at the conference, which runs June 24-26, a service that might be called Google Fit. Although speculation has run wild, many news stories quoting inside sources suggest that Google Fit will compete directly with Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) recently announced HealthKit framework.

Google Fit may also involve partnerships with other wearable-device makers, thus enabling users to measure data such as steps or heart rate and upload it to Google's cloud-based services. Some reports have suggested that the initiative might be branded "Google Play Fitness," but either way, it would mark Google's first substantial move in the area since it shut down the Google Health portal in 2012.

The launch of Fit is likely to occur in combination with the introduction of new wearable devices running Google's recently announced Android Wear operating system. Android Wear is a scaled-down version of Android that is specifically intended for smaller screens, such as those for watches and other wearable devices. At I/O, Samsung and LG will announce new smart watches that are powered by Android Wear, according to a report from Cnet.

That Samsung will reportedly launch a new Android Wear-powered smart watch at Google's I/O conference is notable because Samsung recently moved away from Android in its new Galaxy Gear smart watches. In February, Samsung unveiled two new Galaxy Gear smart watches using the Tizen operating system and not Android--a reversal for Samsung, which last year released its first smart watch, the Galaxy Gear, that was powered by Android.

But Samsung has made no secret of its intention to support a variety of operating systems; the company offers smartphones running both Android and Windows Phone, and later this year it plans to release a smartphone called the Samsung Z running Tizen.

According to The Wall Street Journal, during its upcoming I/O conference Google could also release a new set-top box for TVs that would enable Android-app developers to easily display information on users' TVs. Such technology could, for example, enable game developers to build games that work across both smartphones and TVs.

Finally, Google could discuss its plans to move further into the home-safety and -security market. Earlier this year Google bought Nest, which makes smart thermostats, and just last week Google said it will acquire Dropcam, which makes video cameras for home monitoring. If Google does move further into the home-automation market, the company could face competition from Apple. At its recent developer's conference, Apple announced HomeKit, which offers iOS integration guidelines for companies that are building remotely controlled lights, door locks, thermostats and other home-automation programs. The goal, Apple executives said, is to prevent confusion among users, who must currently access separate apps for each of their home-automation products.

For more:
- see this Re/code article
- see this WSJ article
- see this Cnet article
- see this Reuters article
- see this FierceDeveloper article

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