Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is planning to follow Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) in the mobile health monitoring market and will launch a service called Google Fit that collects and aggregates data from fitness trackers and health apps, according to a Forbes report.
The report, citing unnamed sources, said that the search giant will launch the service at the its I/O developer conference, which starts June 25. A Google spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to the report, Google Fit will aggregate data through open APIs and the company will also announce agreements with wearable device makers at the conference. The service will let users with wearable devices that measure things like steps or heart rate to interface with Google's cloud-based services, and become part of the Google Fit ecosystem. The report added that it's not clear if Google Fit will be a service built into the next software version of Android, or a standalone app that Android users will be able to download.
If Google wants to get into health tracking it might need to deal with the Food and Drug Administration since there is a fine line between a consumer gadget and a medical device that requires regulatory approval. Apple has reportedly talked to the FDA about how to avoid being regulated with its HealthKit platform.
Google previously launched a health portal called Google Health but shut it down in 2012. "Google Health never took off because consumers actually don't want to aggregate their data," Derek Newell, CEO of digital health care platform Jiff, told Forbes. "They haven't wanted to. What they want is information. They want meaning, rewards and a feedback loop."
Apple began moving into the mobile healthcare market earlier this month with the introduction of HealthKit, a new software suite that lets developers access health data from a variety of applications to create a single health profile. Apple also introduced a standalone, user-facing app called "Health" as part of its iOS 8 software update that can monitor a variety of health-related metrics from different apps in a single dashboard.
The software will be available this fall, and could coincide with the introduction of a wearable device. HealthKit is designed to allow applications to contribute to a composite profile of a person's health data. For example, Apple said users can allow data from their blood pressure app to be automatically shared with their doctor or allow a nutrition app to tell fitness apps how many calories a user has consumed each day. The Health app itself lets users monitor the metrics they are most interested in.
Other companies are also investigating wearables and healthcare. Samsung Electronics has unveiled a new hardware reference design called Simband that tracks health data like heart rate and blood pressure. The gadget connects to Samsung's new, open source SAMI platform, which uses a mix of hardware and a cloud backend for sensor data
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