Smartwatches, glasses, and other wearable tech dominated much of the talk coming out of CES 2014 last week. While it's still unclear how much of that is post-CES hype, activity trackers like fitness bands have emerged as one of the few wearable categories that people are actually buying.
Hoping to pick-up on the fitness band craze, Google will reportedly expand the activity tracker functionality of Android. The Google Operating System website recently uncovered code for an unannounced "Android Fitness API." The purported new developer feature would likely allow apps to view and edit activity data tracked by the Android OS and then stored with your Google account in the cloud.
The search giant already added basic walking and cycling tracking to Google Now in late 2012. There's also new step detector and step counter functionality in Android 4.4 KitKat, but currently only available on the Nexus 5.
So further enhancing Android's activity tracking chops is no surprise. Especially since Apple will inevitably get into fitness tracking in a big way thanks to the M7 motion coprocessor in the iPhone 5s. Apple's M7 measures motion data from the iPhone's onboard sensors. Apps can then access that information more efficiently than if they had to rely on the iPhone's main processor for motion data.
The M7 was built for more than just activity apps, but tracking steps walked or miles ran is one of the primary uses Apple intended for the M7.
For Google, however, an Android Fitness API isn't just about making its mobile platform competitive with the iPhone. Fitness trackers and the accompanying websites and apps are all about storing, parsing, and maintaining personal data. And if there's one thing Google is very interested in it's storing and maintaining personal data.
So the reported fitness API could be part of an overall goal to make Android the underlying platform for future fitness bands and activity trackers. Google is already trying to broaden Android's reach by getting into cars, and this week's Nest buy suggests Google wants to return to smart home projects after killing off PowerMeter in 2011.
So why not a return to the health sector with a user-friendly way to easily track and analyze your activity data?