The new iPhones are here and so is Apple’s HealthKit platform. Google knows it has to be quick to offer similar capabilities and has made the earlier announced Google Fit solution available as part of its latest update to the Google Play Services. This, actually, is just a refresh of the Google Fit developer preview but it’s “good enough” to get developers on board to the new platform.
As you may’ve heard, Google Fit will allow users to have a single repository of all their health data, whether they come from apps or (health-tracking) devices. This in turn could propel the search giant’s entrance into a new market – healthcare. If Apple can do it, so can Google.
Alas, the problem Google faces is fragmented market with any number of different Android versions running across hundreds of devices. It’s easier for Cook & Co. to launch an update for just a few phones and perhaps iPads; Google has a much bigger task at hand, as it needs to ensure every single device will support the new capability (as long as it runs the upcoming Android L release).
And there’s also security, which doesn’t come as given with Android. The next version of the platform, Android L, will address this issue but it remains to be seen how well the system will cope with various malicious apps. I don’t think anything’s wrong with Google Fit per se; it’s the open nature of Android that could allow some other app running on the phone to mess things up, potentially making users’ health data available to other parties. The good thing is that this capability won’t be rolled out before Android L is ready for prime time. And in the meantime, developers are free to play with the service and make their software Google Fit-compatible.
Google Fit aside, the new version of Google Play Services brings Enhanced Ecommerce analytic extension from Google Tag Manager, providing developers with “richer insights into pre-purchase shopping behavior and into product performance.” Moreover, this capability also allows them [developers] to update tags on mobile apps and measure impressions on their products.
In addition, Google has enhanced its Google Drive Android API, which got the Completion Events feature to see when actions are committed to the server and improve the response time to conflicts.
The Google Play Services 6.1 will steadily roll out over the next several days and will be followed by SDK and documentation.