Here’s how Android will protect your health data when Google’s Pixel Watch launches

Samsung and Google came together to make this API just for you

The Pixel Watch, just announced at Google I/O, along with Fitbit account integration are ushering in a new era of health tracking for Wear OS. And with it comes the new Health Connect API that will help manage permissions for Android devices when it comes to sharing the data that comes from wearables and other accessories.

Health Connect, which was created in collaboration with Samsung, will manage the ability for apps to write and access user data on activity, body measurement, nutrition, sleep, as well as vital functions and cycles. All this data may be retrieved via user-reported or sensor input.

With such an important payload — so important, Health Connect data will be classified as personal and sensitive user data under Google Play’s User Data policy — comes a load of responsibilities and that comes in the form of a new permissions policy that takes effect from October 3 It’s a lot to go through, but here’s what it requires from third parties that want your health data:

  • The service must request permissions in the app for specific data and say how it will be used.
  • Services must only request permissions for data they need.
  • User data must not be read by other humans or sent to brokers, ad platforms, and the like.
  • There are limited acceptable cases for data transfer such as for law compliance, security, or if user consent has been obtained.

For app developers, the API is a single library available today for your compliance-testing pleasure on the brand-new Jetpack Compose for Wear OS beta. On the other side, users will be able to share their data via Health Connect to their Fitbit, Google Fit, and Samsung Health accounts, at least to start with. Other, unnamed apps, will follow suit in adapting the new API.

More importantly for us consumer types, though, that October 3 date may be a big hint as to when we’ll be able to buy the new Pixel Watch along with all the other “Fall launch” devices that the Made by Google team has prepared for us. We can’t wait.


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