​Google Fit v Apple Health

They just want you for your body: Apple and Google are going head-to-head again
​Google Fit v Apple Health

This is just what the tech world needed: another Apple versus Google battle.

Not only do we have Android Wear up against the Apple Watch in the hardware and sensor stakes, there's also now the small matter of the underlying platforms powering them: Google Fit vs Apple Health.

Originally, Google Fit was a software framework allowing app developers and hardware makers to record, log and display health-related data with as little coding as possible. But it left the developer labs at the end of 2014 and is now a fully-fledged consumer facing offering. What's more, after a big update in November 2015, it looks much more like a proper fitness app than ever before.

Apple Health, originally appearing with iOS 8, works the same way, sucking in data from all those fitness apps and wearable companion apps on your iPhone and attempting to put the data in one place.

But what are the differences? And is Android or iOS the best for fitness fanatics? Let us compare....

Quality of data

Google Fit is made up of three APIs: Sensors, Recording and History. These APIs are the Google-prescribed standards for getting data from physical sensors to apps and interfaces that want to use it.

The official list of data types covers 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.

Apple's official list of default data types is more comprehensive. It covers your gender, sleep patterns, blood type, workout duration and intensity, body temperature, heart rate, blood alcohol level, blood glucose, diet, cycling activity, walking activity and more, even how many times you've fallen over.

There are more data options to play with in HealthKit, at least in terms of preset fields for developers to plug into.

Features and tracking

In terms of features, Google Fit and Apple Health take two very different approaches to keeping tabs on your activity.

While Apple Health simply reports trends taken from your other health apps and wearables (added to the data from your iPhone's motion coprocessor of course), Google has evolved its own platform to be much more of a health app in its own right.

As of an update in November 2015, Google Fit users can track runs and cycles – complete with maps and data you'd expect from any fitness app. What's more, Android Wear users can track a range of exercises including press-ups, squats and sit-ups, and record their session in Google Fit.


We can't help feeling a little shortchanged by the features within Apple Health and there's been a chronic lack of advancement in the app. While the graphs and detail do offer a superb all-round picture of health –there's nearly no opportunity to dive into that data in any way. The presentation of graphs is totally under-cooked, and it's even difficult to see which day you spiked in a particular metric, or why. In this regard, Google Fit is leaping ahead.

You can get daily, weekly, monthly or annual breakdown of steps, floors climbed and walking distance straight from your iPhone and check daily averages. It works well, because your phone is with you so much, you may find you have a year's worth of data without realising it. It's just a shame the presentation is so poor.

The apps and platforms

Google Fit takes the form of an Android app, optimised for both smartphones and tablets, and a web based portal, which can collect health info from a range of wearable devices. For the apps, you'll need to be running Android 4.0 or later.

Essential guide: How to use Apple Health

With Google Fit installed on your mobile device you don't actually need additional apps when it comes to the basics. It uses the sensors already built in to your Android device to automatically detect walking, cycling and running; and you can set and keep track of goals based on your activity levels.

Apple Health is built right into iOS and is described as its makers as "an easy‑to‑read dashboard of your health and fitness data." Anyone who's tried to navigate Apple Health might take issue with that statement.

Apple's latest iPhones have motion coprocessors built in that collect sensor data from the integrated accelerometers, gyroscopes and compasses, and your phone tracks this data and combines it with the info from other compatible apps.

Compatible apps

When Google Fit was announced back in June 2014 at Google I/O, partners such as Withings, Nike, HTC, LG, Motorola, Noom, Runtastic, RunKeeper and Polar were mentioned, and they've all followed through with compatible apps and devices.

And the range has expended to include sleep data from Xiaomi Mi Band and Mi Band 1S and Basis Peak, as well as nutrition information from MyFitnessPal, LoseIt and Lifesum.

Check out our comprehensive list of Google Fit apps and devices for more details.

Apple Health, having a bit of a head-start, already has more than 100 apps that play nicely with it including the likes of Strava, Golfshot, Sleepio, Runtastic, Garmin Connect, Jawbone and Beddit.

Essential reading: Apple Watch vs Samsung Gear

We do know that Google Fit will eventually include APIs to work on the web and iOS, whereas Apple's HealthKit is firmly locked into its own software, so iOS apps can theoretically support Google Fit as well as HealthKit.

This is in line with the existing approach of both companies: you can get Gmail and Google Maps on iPhones easily enough, but you'll be a long time waiting for Apple email and maps apps on your Nexus.

Wearable support

When it comes to wearable devices, compatibility varies. Android Wear automatically plug into Google Fit; the Apple Watch of course, exclusively supports HealthKit.

As for devices manufactured independently of Apple and Google, it's likely that they'll support both platforms from now on, in the same way that most app developers cater for both iOS and Android (see Jawbone's announcement along these lines).

With Google Fit and Apple Health still in their early stages of development, we're yet to see third-party wearable devices appear that peg their colours to one mast or the other – most will continue to support both iOS and Android, and as a result HealthKit and Google Fit too.

Analysis and data security

Both Google Fit and Apple HealthKit pull in your health and fitness data from multiple apps and multiple devices, making sure there are no overlaps along the way. Apps built on top of these two platforms can give you a detailed breakdown of your activities.

As the names suggest though, Apple is more comprehensive when it comes to health (from allergies to sugar levels), while Google focuses primarily on the usual fitness variables. It looks like Apple is taking a more comprehensive, detailed approach to data analysis while Google is offering a more lightweight, flexible set of tools that can be moulded as required.

Apple is keen to emphasis the privacy of your data on HealthKit. "The information you generate about yourself is yours to use and share," says the company. Data is encrypted and backed up to iCloud, and HealthKit-compatible apps are required to present their own privacy policies when installed.

Google has yet to make a definitive statement on data stored in Google Fit, though its advertising policies restrict the use of "sensitive information" in marketing activities, with health and medical records specifically mentioned.

Partners

For the time being it looks like all of the big hardware and software companies — with the exception of the Android Wear smartwatch makers — are happy to support both Google Fit and Apple Health. Key players like Jawbone and Fitbit, for example, have made noises suggesting they'll be platform agnostic. Google relies more on hardware manufacturers than Apple does, and it has an impressive list of backers on the Google Fit website: Adidas, Asus, Basis, HTC, Intel, LG, Mio, Motorola, Nike, Noom, Polar, RunKeeper, Runtastic and Withings.

Wareable picks: Best activity trackers under £50

Apple has not published a similar list of partners, but showcased Nike, Fitbit, RunKeeper and Withings in its announcement keynote back in June. Where Apple has forged ahead is in partnering with electronic health record companies, including the Mayo Clinic and Epic software. Again, this confirms Apple is much more serious about health records as well as fitness tracking, an area where Google has previously tried and failed to make an impact with its Google Health initiative.

What do you think?

Have you used Apple Health or Google Fit? Let us know about your experiences using the comments below...

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7 Comments

  • RiffRaff says:

    These articles u write up are great. I just stumbled upon your website because I was looking for info regarding Goggle (which I prefer) vs Apple (which I own) in regards to their health apps and new wearable watch devices.

    Your comparisons are really well written. Unbiased. And answer the questions I was looking to have answered.

    Thankyou so much. Keep up the good work.

  • khaidzirasip says:

    How do I synchronize data between Apple Health and Google Fit? Is that possible at all?

  • Goflorp says:

    Can the Vivosmart HR suply Healthkit with data?

    Not sure I trust Garmin on this subject....

  • CandidaBurris says:

    I prefer Google fit rather than <a href="http://www.altomerge.com/" >apple</a>. When it comes to hardware, from my experience I can say that apple is better than google but when it comes to apps and software in terms of ease of use and being user-friendly, I'd go to google. But who knows? 

  • lilixiao says:

    well, i think it's all okay but i prefer app health. I truly believe in using app health due to its accuracy and fast update. Anw, they are both okay when using in some tracking apps such as: Awesome Blossom ( I've been introduced recently) - it uses tracking app to count step and grow tree.

  • emrea says:

    I have recently found this website and was hooked! Thank you all for the very well written analytical articles.

  • DevRabbit says:

    Really enjoying your point of view with comparison between

    Google Fit v Apple Health. While searching for iOS APP Development just landed on this page. This an informative and helpful post.

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