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Microsoft and Google Make Health Hubs

Two tech giants follow Apple’s heels with ambitious plans to unite your health data.

If Apple’s Health was an impressive feat of innovation (albeit with a stuttering start), where all of your health data from even third party apps fits nice and neat together, Google and Microsoft’s new tools, Fit and Health, respectively, are looking to further refine and perfect the health hub.

Not app, necessarily, but hub. Like HealthKit, both of these apps collect your fitness data across apps—calories burned, steps taken, heart rate—into one hub.

Google Fit

One Monday, with anticipation for Android Lollipop building, Google released Fit. Fit uses the accelerometer in your Android device to track simpler activities like steps taken, running and cycling.

You can set your own personal goals in the app, like how many steps you want taken in that day, and add your own activities. Again, these are fairly limited at this point to simple walking, running and cycling. But Google has plans to build out into possibly something as sophisticated as weight lifting activity and calories burned within the app itself. In the meantime, you can connect to select third party apps and input your fitness data. It will sync from your Android Wear device, which can track steps taken and more—perhaps with a little accuracy needed; it’s barely after 10 AM and according to my Android Wear I’ve already taken over 1,100 steps.

You can download Google Fit on the Play Store now.

Microsoft Health

Out of nowhere, Microsoft thrust itself into the health tracking game yesterday with the announcement of an app—Health—and a state of the art (but affordable) fitness/smart band called the Microsoft Band.

There’s a lot to dig into with this one. The band isn’t platform-specific, meaning it can work on other devices than a Windows Phone (though without access to voice search Cortana); Microsoft is building apps for iOS and Android to work with the Band and track all of your fitness data. The Band will also have smartwatch-like notifications—texts, emails and Facebook/Twitter pings. Microsoft isn’t interested in building a smartwatch. After all, most people have watches that they wear and love. What they seem to be doing is making a FitBit-like device that you wear in addition to a watch.

And eventually, you’ll be looking at guided workouts from Men’s Fitness on your wrist.

The Band is available, at limited quantities, at the Microsoft Store. 

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