Google is getting into the health-tracking business.

The company has developed an application that allows Android smartphone owners to collect health-related information in one place. It’s called Google Fit, and besides challenging Apple’s HealthKitservice, it also represents Google’s efforts to gather real-world data to complement the information it already has about the digital world.

It’s no longer enough for companies to track someone’s activity across the Web by monitoring their emails, analyzing their browsing history, or keeping tabs on their online searches. All that information now needs to be supplemented with data about what someone’s doing in the real world, whether that’s demonstrated through location tracking or through a health application.

Why else would so many companies rush to help people track their steps, count their calories, or collect other health-related information? It’s not just about making self quantification more convenient for the few self-obsessed consumers who actually use that information. It’s also about increasing the amount of information that can be offered to advertisers — maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but certainly as soon as these companies can get away with it.

wrote about these efforts to gather real-world information earlier this month, when Reutersrevealed that Facebook was also considering the addition of health-related info to its services:

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