Google says crowdsourced data makes for better fitness apps

Your health information is more valuable than you may think.


Google made a serious move into the health and fitness space when it introduced its Apple Health competitor, Fit, back in 2014. Since then, the company has been improving its platform by adding new features to help you keep better track of your daily activities, giving you information on real-time stats, workout logs and goals you've set out for yourself. Naturally, Fit is at its most useful when it has deep access to your personal data, as is the case for most tech products nowadays. This is key not only for the search giant's own apps, but also those from third-party developers that work on Android or are sending info to Fit from an iOS device.

Mary Liz McCurdy, head of health and fitness apps for Google Play, said in an interview at SXSW that applications in the category aren't just loggers anymore. Instead, she says, they've become much more beneficial to users by turning their data into deeper experiences, which can translate to things like personalized recommendations on how to eat healthier, sleep better and enjoy more effective workouts. That's what you see with apps like Runtastic and Nike+ Training Club.

Head of Health and Fitness Apps for Google Play, Mary Liz McCurdy (far right), at SXSW.

"Now everyone can work out with a personalized coach, whether it be a real coach or in most cases a robo coach," says McCurdy. "People are willing to pay and they're willing to spend a lot of time working out, so these [apps] are all just different pocket-sized personal trainers that continue to improve and get more adaptive and smart with time." Still, despite how valuable these types of apps have become to people, she says they're not meant to replace a human trainer or a doctor. "This is augmenting your experience if you actually have a condition. That doesn't mean that you do not need to go to the doctor, it just means you're an informed citizen. You're in control of your health."

McCurdy believes it's helpful for users to connect with like-minded people through social aspects, which she says wouldn't be possible without crowdsourced data. "The apps give you the knowledge that you need to make informed decisions," she says, "and live your best, healthy life."

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