Earlier this year, both Apple and Google presented competing visions for how we’ll use apps and wearables to gather data about our bodies and share it via our phones. Apple called its software HealthKit, while Google presented Google Fit.
If things had gone according to plan on Wednesday, Apple would be enjoying a head start over Google, with HealthKit released along with iOS 8, its new mobile software for iPhones and iPads. (Google Fit is still unreleased beyond a “developer preview.”)
Instead, Apple disappointed both consumers and developers. The last-minute discovery of a critical—though unspecified—bug prompted Apple to block the release of new apps created with HealthKit and the removal of existing apps, like MyFitnessPal and the Walgreens mobile app, from the App Store.
Apple now says HealthKit will be ready by the end of September. App developers, having raced to retool their apps to remove HealthKit, will presumably put it back in. It may just be a temporary delay, but it’s an embarrassment for Apple, which prides itself on the polish of its products.
Over the long term, developers will have to weigh incidents like this against the long-term promise of Google’s and Apple’s platforms. It’s likely that alongside Google Fit and HealthKit, we’ll also see independent players connecting apps and wearables. MyFitnessPal and Under Armour’s MapMyFitness are two to watch.
Ultimately, this should mean that apps will be easier to use; that consumers will have a wider choice of wearables; and that data about our health and fitness will be easier to view, analyze, and take action on. But we have a long road ahead.
Here’s a presentation I delivered on Tuesday at the DataWeek + API World 2014 Conference about the current state of fitness apps and the software tools we use to create them: