Friday, May 24, 2024

Google Fit API Shutdown Could Impact Your Fitness Devices

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There was a moment not that long ago when fitness trackers seemed like a niche business. Now, they’ve become ubiquitous, both in terms of smartphones having some fitness-tracking functionality and with a growing variety of wearables on the market. But there’s a lot of code behind the scenes to make your wristband, smart ring or cellphone compile information and process it — and a recent decision from Google could shake up the industry.

Earlier this month, Google announced that “Google Fit developer services will be transitioning to become a core part of the Android Health platform.” What that means, more practically, is that the Google Fit API (application programming interface) has a sunset date in place: June 30, 2025. Google also announced that “new sign-ups for the Google Fit APIs will no longer be accepted.”

Effectively, that means that third-party apps that use the Google Fit API have a little over a year to change their functionality. Exactly how easy that will be remains a significant question: As Ron Amadeo writes at Ars Technica, this announcement raises more questions than it answers. For starters, there’s the fact that Google now has three different fitness-related APIs — Health Connect, Fitbit API and Google Fit API — and will until the end of June 2025. Each has a different way of synchronizing user data, which could further complicate matters as developers look for the best migration solution.

This news comes a little less than a month after Google shut down its Google Podcasts app, which also prompted criticism from tech circles. Writing at The Verge, David Pierce described something he dubbed the “Google Cycle,” in which the company launches a service, then “eventually launches a competitor out of some other part of the company, obviously begins to deprecate it and shift focus to the new competitor” — which sounds very familiar.

With over a year to prepare for the end of the Google Fit API, most developers should have time to come up with a workaround. But the question of what devices or software might be thoroughly bricked by this API’s shutdown looms over this announcement — and it’s one we likely won’t have an answer for until much later.

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