Our Bodies, Disconnected: The Future Of Fitness APIs

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Google Fit and Apple's HealthKit present two different visions of how fitness apps and wearables should connect with our phones—and ultimately improve our health. Which one will win out, and what are the implications for consumers and developers?

For more on ReadWrite's coverage of digital fitness, check out ReadWriteBody:

http;//readwrite.com/series/body
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  • 1. Our$Bodies,$Disconnected Owen$Thomas ReadWrite DataWeek$2014
  • 2. Fitness$apps$are$exploding$…
  • 3. …$as$are$Bitness$APIs
  • 4. There’s$a$glut$of$Bitness$apps • Most&'itness&apps&provide&broadly&similar&and& overlapping&capabilities&in&exercise&and&nutrition& tracking& • Social&graphs&and&data&history&become&the&main& reasons&consumers&stick&with&one&app&versus&another& • Technical&interoperability&exists,&but&it’s&way&too&hard& for&consumers&to&use
  • 5. There$are$also$a$lot$of$wearables • Most&consumers&abandon&wearables&after&six&months& • Functionality&is&limited—most&only&track&simple& movement&and&sleep& • We’re&not&doing&much&with&the&data&wearables& generate& • Every&wearable&requires&a&companion&app&to&extract& value&from&the&data
  • 6. This$stuff$is$broken • I&stopped&wearing&my&Jawbone&Up&months&ago,&but&I&didn’t& disconnect&the&apps.&Sometimes&my&Up&tells&me&I&burned& 3,000&calories&in&a&day.& • Basic&data&elements&like&time&zones&aren’t&structured& correctly.&MapMyFitness&will&sometimes&tell&me&I&exercised& for&21&hours&straight.& • I&have&10&different&apps&where&I&need&to&update&my&weight.& • I&don’t&have&one&place&I&can&go&to&get&an&overview&of&my& health&and&activity.
  • 7. Are$APIs$the$answer?
  • 8. Flickr&cofounder&Caterina&Fake Photo&by&Joi&Ito&(www.'lickr.com/photos/joi/2767721641)
  • 9. In&2006,&Flickr&cofounder&Caterina&Fake& dubbed&APIs&“biz&dev&2.0”—a&new&way&of& doing&business&without&the&friction&of& dealmaking.
  • 10. Photo&by&Joi&Ito&(www.'lickr.com/photos/joi/2698702648/)
  • 11. Later&that&year,&Twitter&cofounder&Biz&Stone& announced&the&Twitter&API.&Developers&created&a& wide&variety&of&apps,&including&mobile&versions&of& Twitter&that&Twitter&itself&wasn’t&providing.& Twitter&later&had&to&clamp&down&on&developers’& use&of&its&API,&destroying&much&of&the&goodwill&it& had&generated.
  • 12. Photo&by&Brian&Solis&(www.'lickr.com/photos/briansolis/2697305792/)
  • 13. In&2007,&Facebook&unveiled&the&Facebook&Platform,& setting&off&a&gold&rush&of&socially&connected&apps— and&of&spammy&apps&that&cluttered&the&News&Feed.& To&this&day,&Facebook&has&a&contentious& relationship&with&developers&who&believe&it’s& limiting&their&apps’&reach.
  • 14. Open$or$shut? • An&“open”&or&“public”&API&is&open&to&all&developers.& Aside&from&a&simple&signaup&process,&there&are&few& barriers&to&use&it.& • A&“closed”&or&“private”&API&requires&permission&to& access.& • Most&APIs,&even&if&technically&“open,”&have&usage& limits&and&other&restrictions.
  • 15. Open$ Jawbone MapMyFitness RunKeeper Closed$ MyFitnessPal Nike Runtastic
  • 16. Here$come$Apple$and$Google!
  • 17. • Apple’s&HealthKit&and&Google&Fit&started&in&different& places.&HealthKit&was&very&focused&on&gathering&vital& signs.&Google&Fit&was&geared&around&'itness&tracking.& • Over&time,&HealthKit&has&added&more&'itness&functions —in&part&to&support&the&Apple&Watch.& • Google&stores&data&in&the&cloud.&Apple&stores&data&on& the&phone.
  • 18. Pros$and$cons$of$HealthKit Available&shortly&(September& 2014)& iOS&updates&roll&out&to&large& part&of&installed&base—less& fragmentation Severe&restrictions&on&data&use& Rival&apps&and&devices&can&use& your&data&if&stored&in&HealthKit& Data&is&siloed&on&the&phone
  • 19. Pros$and$cons$of$Google$Fit Android&has&more&market&share& Crossaplatform&roadmap— REST&API&for&Web&apps,& eventually&native&code&for&iOS& Better&data&structure&based&on& Android&Intents Still&in&developer&preview& Google&always&has&an&agenda& with&data& Android&fragmentation&limits& reach
  • 20. • Ultimately,&'itness&data&should&live&in&the&cloud&for& storage,&sharing,&and&analysis.& • As&long&as&Apple’s&HealthKit&remains&locked&to&the& phone,&its&usefulness&to&consumers&and&developers& will&be&limited.& • Google&Fit&will&have&to&embrace&more&basic&health& functions&to&compete&with&HealthKit.& • There’s&still&an&opportunity&for&a&cloudabased&API& player—possibly&one&that&bridges&HealthKit&and& Google&Fit&across&devices.
  • 21. Questions?$ @owenthomas& owen@readwrite.com& readwrite.com/series/body
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