Google opens Fit wearable toolkit for developer preview

Starting Thursday, developers can get an early look at the software development kit for the search giant's fitness software platform and start building out new apps.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
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Google has released its Google Fit software development kit (SDK) for a preview on Thursday.

The early look allows developers to investigate the in's and out's of the platform and begin tinkering with its building tools ahead of a wave of upcoming fitness and health-oriented devices coming to market. Also, the toolkit will let developers better understand how to take advantage of the increasing number of smartphone sensors tracking bodily movement as well.

In the words of product manager Angana Ghosh, Fit "provides a single set of application programming interfaces (APIs) for apps and device manufacturers to store and access activity data from fitness apps and sensors on Android and other devices (like wearables, heart rate monitors or connected scales)."

That includes Google's new Android Wear smartwatches -- wrist-worn devices like the Motorola Moto 360 and Samsung Gear Live that run a specialized version of the company's mobile OS. Google announced both Google Fit and unveiled Android Wear at its I/O developers conference in June. Google has already released a preview for its next version of Android, known currently as "L," and has updated its Google Play services for developers to include the new Google Fit APIs.

Google Fit also represents the search giant's attempts to take on its partner and simultaneous software rival Samsung, which has its S Heath fitness platform and a line of fitness and smartwatch wearables that span both its Tizen-powered devices as well as those running Android Wear.

More pressing, however, may be Apple's long-rumored wearable, slated for a potential October release, that is said to have a substantial focus on health and fitness. The iPhone maker took the time to outline HealthKit, its own app-centric platform, at its developers conference in June and is heading into a wearable face-off with Google this fall.

The Google Fit APIs include one for sensors so that an Android device or wearable can, for instance, "receive updates from a connected heart rate monitor every 5 seconds during a user's run and give immediate feedback to the runner on the display," Ghosh pointed out. The second is for recording fitness data in the background and syncing it with the cloud, while the third is for accessing the history of data to better serve relevant information, like the map of a just-finished run, at the end of a workout.

"You'll be able to launch your app later this year when we launch the full Google Fit SDK as part of Google Play services for handsets, Android Wear and also for the Web," Ghosh concluded.