Google Fit vs Apple Health and how they fit in the digital health industry


Google Fit and Apple Health are the underlying platforms powering the wearable technologies: Android Wear and the Apple Watch.

With all the fitness tracking craze from vast number of apps, there are a lot of data that needs to be aggregated and consolidated where consumers can look and analyse health trends. Usually, these data are spread throughout several different apps or tools, furthering the need to compile it all in a single, unified place. Both Google Fit and Apple HealthKit offer viable solutions to this issue. They address the issue of consolidating data and making it mobile and accessible, and they each offer other advantages as well.

Consumer well-being

With all the access to mobile and digital technology, it makes sense that we, as consumers, make use of these important health information that is collected.

Both the Google Fit app and the Apple’s Health App (these apps are included in designated iOS and Android phones) can be used as a phone-based fitness tracker, where it tracks basic fitness elements i.e. there is no need for a separate wearable tech to do the tracking.

Using the accelerometer, GPS, and other sensors in the phones, both apps will keep tabs on baseline and standard activity. They track things such as height, weight, the type of activity one is participating in, active time, distance travelled, steps taken, elevation climbed and calories burned. A full list of sensors in the iPhone is here and in Android phones is here.

When paired with a third-party app or a wearable, the health tracking becomes more comprehensive as it allows other data that cannot be captured by the smartphone itself. Thus, giving a thorough view on one’s current well-being.

Clinical trials

The rapid consumer adoption of wearable devices for the collection of health data is laying the foundation for the next revolution in clinical trial operations. Gartner reported that approximately 10% of clinical trials will incorporate a wearable device. This success hinges on the ability to integrate the wearable technologies with e-clinical systems and data exchanges with cloud-based analytics. In addition, these wearables can be integrated with ePRO (electronic patient records outcomes) to advance data collection, especially collecting (and monitoring) data in real-time.

In addition, medical grade monitoring devices now support patient care in most therapeutic areas and more mHealth app, which compliments these devices are being developed. These apps are used for data capture-both from the patient and from the medical device. The integration of wearable health monitors with smartphones offers capabilities to collect continuous, accurate health data in real time. This is a major advantage in the clinical trial process.

The Apple ResearchKit and the CareKit, which are part of the HealthKit by Apple, are software platforms that allows researchers and mHealth developers to create apps to manage data collected via wearable devices and smartphones

From a clinical perspective, there are concerns with patient compliance, data validity, costs, data security and data context. For long-term use of wearables in clinical trials, these platforms and wearables will need better hardware, sensors and together integration into the mHealth ecosystem to maintain health integrity and security. Read our article here or here on barriers the mHealth industry needs to overcome to progress in the mHealth industry in 2017.

The table below consolidates facts on the Apple HealthKit vs Google Fit:

Apple HealthKit

Google Fit

Platforms

iOS on iPhones

Android for smartphones and tablets

Operating System

iOS 8 or higher

Android 4.0 or higher

Data Types

List of metrics is more comprehensive. It covers gender, sleep patterns, blood type, workout duration and intensity, body temperature, heart rate, blood alcohol level, blood glucose, diet and cycling activity, walking activity

Metrics include activity times and types, calories burned, pedalling rate, wheel speed, distance covered, heart rate, height, weight, power generated in a workout, steps taken and elevation.

Data tracking

Apple Health simply reports trends taken from your other health apps and wearables (added to the App from your iPhone's motion co-processor)

Google has evolved its own platform to be much more of a health app in its own right

Compatibility with apps

Unlike before, most wearable technologies and third party apps are now compatible with both platforms

Accessibility and security

Google Fit’s SDK (software developer kit) and Apple HealthKit are open to developers. Hence, compatible apps could have access to health information. Permissions can be set to control which apps can access one’s health details.

Wearable support

Apple Watch exclusively supports HealthKit.

Android Wear automatically plugs into Google Fit and can integrate with Apple Health App

Partners

Big hardware and software companies support both Google Fit and Apple Health. For e.g. keyplayers like Jawbone and Fitbit can integrate with both. However, Google relies more on hardware manufacturers than Apple does, and it has an impressive list of backers on the Google Fit website.

Summary

Data collected with any Android Wear wearable will sync perfectly with Google Fit, and data collected with an Apple Watch will sync perfectly with Apple HealthKit. It may appear like Google Fit and Apple HealthKit offer similar things. However, their overall objective and product vision is different.

Apple’s focus seems to offer a more comprehensive picture of one’s health, including making health data available to individuals and institutions that can provide care. It is a convenient and digital way, to relay important health information to doctors and hospitals. Hence, many healthcare organizations are adopting it compared to Google Fit.

Google Fit emphasizes on an activity tracking app that can aggregate and visualise all recorded data. There is no focus (not yet) on the medical field that Apple’s got with HealthKit. Instead, Google Fit seems to be a way for the everyday person to take fitness data from third party devices and apps and merge it all together in one convenient and accessible place.

Both Google Fit and Apple HealthKit have different reasons for their existence. It is good to point out that there is a global reach of 82.8% of the market that uses the Android platform whereas the Apple users has a global reach of 18% (Gartner). Hence, this market share data could be useful when considering the demographics in any mHealth project.

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