Ways to Use HealthKit and Google Fit in Health and Fitness Apps

November 21, 2020 - 11:02 am - Post by Zignuts

As people are becoming more vigilant about their health and fitness, higher numbers of fitness apps are getting downloaded both from Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Google and Apple have locked horns on numerous occasions and now their two of the most successful healthcare platforms Google Fit and HealthKit will come to the center stage to get this competition further.

HealthKit was introduced by Apple during the launch of iOS 8, whereas Google Fit was released about four years ago in October 2014. No doubt, such a proposition augments the user experience and enhances the desire to buy fitness activity trackers and healthcare devices. Nonetheless, before to be more specific, let us share statistics that show how the need for health and fitness apps has increased. According to research by Accenture, the global health market is expected to grow up to $37 billion by this year in 2018.

Both Google and Apple are prepared to assist their users with two excellent platforms. However, there is a variation between the two. So, first, have a glimpse at Google Fit followed by HealthKit.

Google Fit

Google has launched the health platform called Google Fit, which primarily offers the use of your Smartphone’s sensors to observe a physical activity such as jogging, running, walking, swimming, and cycling automatically and health of Android users.

It is wider than a helpful health tracking platform allowing the users to track their fitness aims such as weight loss, burning off the calories, etc. You can observe the outcomes of each day, week, or month. You can download it from Google Play Store for free, despite, if you have an Android Smartwatch, then it will already be inbuilt there.

Health and fitness tracking apps can, with user permission, access all such information in Google Fit, including information gathered by Google services and other applications.

HeathKit

HealthKit was originally launched by Apple Inc. at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2014 and released with the launch of iOS 8. It is also a healthcare platform, which basically accumulates and records from the various health and fitness apps so that it becomes available to the end-users.

The HealthKit has been developed in such a way that it builds an association between two health apps (heart monitoring and diabetes track) to work together to send the data to one another for optimal patient care.

This data is personal, can be sent to the doctors quickly through the app so that doctors can monitor the improvement of health. The data can be accessed remotely.

Benefits of HealthKit and Google Fit

  • HealthKit and Google Fit collect health data from various sources, which clarifies the shared use of several gym trainers and fitness apps. It’s an important point because…
  • It’s advisable that developers should not write custom code for sharing with each application and download APIs. Various medical and fitness apps can transfer data with each other without using complex integration solutions.
  • To import and export health data, users do not need to manually establish connections between their applications.
  • Through Healthkit and Google Fit, There is an opportunity to extend the functionality of fitness apps for iOS and Android by using additional data about the medical and physical activity of the user.

Apple HealthKit and Google Fit

Now let’s know some aspects of how you can really develop a health and fitness app with the help of these two essential healthcare platforms. It can be discussed under different parameters wherein one would also analyze the key differences in their approach.

Collected Healthcare and Fitness Data

Both Google Fit and HealthKit healthcare platforms record and collect data for the information and integrate it with multiple device applications and observe user’s progress in health. They are usually classified into two main divisions:

  • Fitness Related Data, which is manually added
  • Medical Data

HealthKit

The application “Health” collects a complex hierarchy of data types. HKObjectType subclasses identify types of data stored in HealthKit that indicates the way of user’s living:

  • Activity: The physical activity and movement of the user: the steps count, basal metabolic rate, calories burned, cycling cadence, being combined with information collected from other activity tracker apps and providing an objective result.
  • Mindfulness: The Health application collects all the data like the time the user has devoted to mindfulness practice and shows an objective result.
  • Sleep: HealthKit also records sleep data. Data is being collected from various sources (the iPhone goes in “Sleep Mode” and from third-party fitness gadgets, accessories, and mobile apps)
  • Nutrition: HealthKit can also track the number of calories consumed by combining data of third party food control apps and popular healthcare platforms.

Other data: The Healthkit provides users to collect health and fitness data relating to other life indicators (heart, analysis, reproductive health, etc)

All data is being encrypted and backed up in the iCloud repository.

Google Fit

Google Fit also records similar data as the Health app but it cannot give medical information between apps.

 

  • Physical activity: Basal metabolic rate, calories burned, cycling cadence, step count, workout duration, etc.
  • Location: This data provides Google Fit to wheel revolutions per minute (RPM), determine the distance the user has walked, run, or ridden a bicycle speed, and cumulative revolutions. 
  • Drinking mode and nutrition: Google Fit records data like hydration, food, nutrients from connected medical & fitness gadgets, and tracking apps.
  • Body: Body fat percentage, pulse rate, heart rate, weight, and height.

There are also some restricted health data types. Since this data holds sensitive information and accesses it, you are required to apply for OAuth API verification. Google will examine your request and grant or reject verification. 

Restricted data types include data on:

  • Blood glucose levels
  • Blood pressure
  • Oxygen saturation
  • Body temperature

Google also provides for building custom data types if they aren’t already covered by an existing data type.

Design

HealthKit

The HealthKit is also offering equal details as Google Fit. But it is slightly more complex as related to other health and fitness apps. Nevertheless, the users can easily and quickly observe all the available information on one screen only comparing them to get the results of the health report card.

Based on the data they can determine whether it is the right time to consult the doctor. Users also get other helpful insights like information on food and alcohol consumption, observe sleep patterns, etc.

Users also keep an eye on other essential portions like measuring your body height and weight and determine what plan to adapt to stay fit. It also manages the data of your medical record as well.

Google Fit

The design of the Google Fit app interface is quite simple, user-friendly, and intuitive, but it is not perfect. Among other things, the disadvantage is that every time the user constantly swipes the screens to get those or other health or fitness information. Agree, this is not too user-friendly.

Furthermore, the interface shows (in a rather simple way) the chronology of classes, goals. And a customizable widget quickly transfers this data to the desktop of the smartphone. Google Fit also provides graphics and cards to make the application work even more precise.

Security and privacy

Imagine a nightmare it would be for the user if he/she lost all their health information! One of the most essential things for platforms like Google Fit and HealthKit is to safeguard all the data collected on the app. 

Knowing the difference between security and privacy for fitness tracking apps is essential. Privacy is an individual’s right to control their data and determine who to share it with. Security is the technical means of safeguarding that data. It needs a serious level of in-built protection. The privacy of data is another perspective of security.

HealthKit 

The HealthKit has much more reliable security features and it can only be operated on the latest models of the iPhones. The advanced models are equipped with fingerprint sensors (Touch ID and Face ID) to recognize the user and since the data stored in HealthKit is essentially medical records. 

When a user’s iPhone is locked, their health information in the Health app is encrypted on‑device. it is stored in a very protected place with a number of backups. If a user wants to sync their health data with iCloud, it’s encrypted while in transit. 

It is also regulated by strict guidelines of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and HIPAA of the USA.

Google Fit 

The Google Fit has some limitations; for example, When you look at the terms of service for Google Fit for developers, Google Fit is only a fitness tracking app; it does not allow you any help on controlling the medical parameters. You are also not allowed to use Google Fit along with any other medical gadgets or services under Section 201(h) of the US Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Google Fit is not to be seen as a medical device, the app does not need extra security measures that are crucial for custom healthcare software development. 

Google insists that it makes no representation that Google Fit meets HIPAA requirements. So when an app developer is a covered entity or business associate under HIPAA, they should use Google Fit in their app only after getting written consent to such use from Google.

Integration

Let’s see how simple and quick it is to integrate your app with HealthKit and Google Fit.

HealthKit 

HealthKit used for collecting essential user data, Apple manages user privacy seriously and places strict guidelines on the platform.

  • Users should be aware of what information you will record and for what intent.
  • Every user must give each app permission to read and write information to the HealthKit store. Users can also allow or reject permission individually for specific types of data. To prevent data losses, an app does not know whether it has been rejected permission to read data. 
  • HealthKit data must only be kept locally on the users’ smartphones. HealthKit stores can only be obtained by an authorized app and must only be stored locally on the users’ smartphones. 
  • You cannot use data from the HealthKit store to serve ads using the HealthKit framework
  • Any data obtained from HealthKit cannot be disclosed to a third party without permission. 
  • You allow sharing a user’s HealthKit data with a third party for medical research only after the user gives permission.
  • You must need to allow a privacy policy for any app that uses the HealthKit framework. 

Apple gives developers a step-by-step guide on how to set up HealthKit. You need iOS SDK (software development kit) 8 and higher.

Google Fit

Google urges developers to use its platform responsibly when building  fitness apps and lays out the following principles of use:

  • Without Google’s written consent it’s prohibited to use Google Fit for creating apps that store biometric or medical data.
  • Users should be aware of what information you will record and for what intent.
  • You must accept requests from users to erase data.
  • If reading data from Google Fit, You must allow users to write fitness data to Google Fit.
  • You must follow the Google Fit guidelines and T&C before using Google Fit.

Very Important, you require a Google account and Google Play Services. You also require an OAuth 2.0 Client ID to use Google Fit. Google provides comprehensive and clear documentation on how to make your app work with Google Fit. 

How to use HealthKit and Google Fit in your app

And now the core question of the problem: how to build the most accurate and reliable fitness tracker apps with the help of HealthKit and Google Fit?

HealthKit 

HealthKit provided a repository that helps fitness and health apps for iPhone & Apple Watch can operate to share health and fitness data.

Developers do not require to store such information on their own and look for alternatives to collect this information. Also, you are not required to develop complex infographics based on the data collected – HealthKit will do everything for you. And you can give your time and energy to more pressing problems and thereby enhance the user experience in another regard.

What is the HealthKit framework?

HealthKit itself is a complex hierarchy of immutable subclasses derived from the general HKObject class. In fact, the HealthKit framework manages and structures the data types so that any fitness app can quickly figure out the most reliable way to use them. HKObjectType subclasses identify types of data stored in HealthKit.

There are two types of data objects: characteristics that do not change with time, and samples available for adding new data.

These data types look a bit difficult to understand. Developers no longer require to look for alternatives to establish such interaction. All these objects, units, and classes support structure the data so that third-party health and fitness apps can work with the HealthKit repository and interact with each other effectively. 

Google Fit

GoogleFit is a somewhat small and robust platform with clear documentation, and this platform provides getting healthcare data from different sources such as sensors in cell phones, smart clocks, fitness bracelets, etc. GoogleFit stores the health and fitness data in the cloud storage, and fitness apps for Android can read this information.

Integrate your activity fitness tracker app with the Google Fitness API (the native API for Android or the REST API for building a web client) and experience the result. Google Fit will allow most of the work.

Conclusion

So, there is no definite winner between HealthKit and Google Fit, we had a good comparison between the two most advanced healthcare platforms and both give their own advantages and disadvantages. However, Apple’s HealthKit exceeded its competitor Google Fit on different occasions such as giving much security and giving the facility for recording the medical data.

Both track the physical activities and also observe the heart rate. Now it is up to you, which healthcare platform you want to personally choose. If you want medical data with fitness, then HealthKit is your solution and if you only are concerned about only fitness, then Google Fit will suit your wants.