Survival Of The Digital Fittest

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In just under two weeks from now at Google I/O, Google is announcing wearable fitness functionality that Apple announced at WWDC. Next year at WWDC, Apple will announce wearable fitness functionality that Google announced at I/O.

Jokes aside, the competition between Google and Apple to “own” wearable health has reached “Silicon Valley”-level proportions. After Apple announced its mobile health data-tracking platform HealthKit and app Health at WWDC, we hear (and have confirmed a Forbes scoop) that Google will be announcing its own health data-tracking platform, “Google Fit,” at Google I/O.

Yes, the names do rhyme.

We’re hearing that Google envisions Google Fit, which will be unveiled on June 25th, as “a fitness ecosystem” — Android for fitness if you must. Google, like Apple with HealthKit, hopes that the Fit API will enable developers to create smarter fitness apps and manufacturers, like Misfit and Jawbone, to create smarter wearable fitness devices.

From what we’re hearing, Google Fit will track all sorts of health data, such as weight, heart rate, run times, body-building stats and more. Fit APIs already exist for sensors, data reporting and app history. End users will be able to sync their Google Fit profiles to their Google IDs, which will make their data portable no matter what app or device they’re using. Like an OAuth for fitness, Fit will “make fitness tracking a basic functionality for phones.”

Unlike HealthKit and Health, there will not be a separate Fit app.

For what it’s worth, Google tried and failed at something similar to Fit with “Google Health” in 2008. My guess is that mobile adoption (Android now has 80 percent of the market) will make or break its try this time. Indeed, we’ve heard Google is laser-focused on mobile; it’s rumored that employees have a mandate to work on a tablet once a week.

Of course, Google and Apple are not alone in their health kick, though they do have the best chance at winning the health-tracking game, especially Apple with its knack for humanizing software. Microsoft is also planning to launch a smartwatch later this year, Samsung already has its Gear wristlet and its own health platform, Sami, and Qualcomm has its Toq.

It just makes sense that the giant tech companies are making a grand foray into health: One might say that there’s nothing more important in life.

Health-care spending in the U.S. is rapidly increasing and is expected to hit $4.8 trillion by 2021. And because of regulatory hurdles, existing health-care systems have been resistant to technological change, even around as simple an issue as doctors sending emails to patients.

This sluggishness is due to many factors, including HIPAA statutes, privacy concerns and FDA compliance. But this is changing due to actual initiatives like the $35 billion HITECH Act, which encourages hospitals and physicians to electronically optimize their data. And the increasing realization that a good portion of health care is preventative at the consumer level: That fitness tracker that forces you to go on runs is also helping lessen your risk of heart disease.

VC investments in digital health have also grown 39 percent year-over-year to $1.9 billion, so the Google Fits and the HealthKits of the world have plenty of venture-backed competition, validating the market.

May the best Fit or Kit (or Fitbit) win. My bet’s on Apple.

IMAGE BY Shutterstock (composite)