Google is developing an API that will let app developers use data collected by fitness sensors in Android devices.
An API (Application Programming Interface) is a type of software interface that’s used to provide developers easy, secure access to a system’s functions.
Google Operating System spotted a fragment of code that suggests Google is working on an Android Fitness API. Details are scarce, but presumably the API would allow apps to tap into fitness data supplied by special sensors embedded in Android devices. This data would be tied to the user’s Google account and backed up in the cloud. Among other uses, apps could utilize the API to generate reports and graphs or to suggest changes to your workout routine without having to access hardware sensors directly.
Apparently, apps can already access some functionality of the API at https://www.googleapis.com/auth/fitness. The image below, obtained by +Jeremy Steckling, seems to show the permission screen for an app that tries to access the Fitness API.
In Android 4.4, Google introduced platform support for step detecting and step counting sensors. Devices equipped with such sensors, like the Moto X and the Nexus 5, can be used as accurate pedometers, eliminating the need for a third-party accessory like the Fitbit. The new fitness API should make it easier for app devs to tap into those sensors.
It’s not clear yet how wearables like Fitbit or Glass could make use of this API, but with a boom in fitness trackers (see our CES 2014 coverage), there’s certainly a need for a unified interface that would bring data from multiple devices together and make it easily available to apps.
Google may add the new API to its Play Services framework, which runs on all recent Android devices and updates itself silently and automatically. There’s also a chance the API will be a part of an upcoming Android release, though over the past year, Google has been favoring Play Services for rolling out new functionality to Android.