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Mobile App Review: Fitness Tracking With The Moves App
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Mobile App Review: Fitness Tracking With The Moves App - Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Fitness Tracking With The Moves App

Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Fitness Tracking With The Moves App

If you’re looking to get into fitness tracking but aren’t sure you have the commitment to justify buying a smartwatch or wearable tracker like Fitbit, there are a few low-cost or no-cost options out there, including apps for your smartphone. While the apps are not as fancy or sophisticated, they can be a great introduction to tracking and recording your physical activity. Since smartphone technology advances by leaps every year, these apps become easier to use, not to mention more accurate. Apple’s iPhone and some Android devices come with motion coprocessors, designed specifically for activity tracking. This means that even while the phones are asleep, the apps can work in the background, ready to report your stats when the phone is awakened or the app launched.

Among the most popular fitness tracking apps is Moves, which launched two and a half years ago and is available in iOS and Android versions. Its simple interface, pleasing graphics, and low price (free) make it a nice place to start for the curious or hesitant. Many people who have moved on to smartwatches or wearable trackers keep it on their phones as a backup, in case something happens to their first options, while others continue to use it even after a couple of years because they appreciate its simplicity or don’t want to deal with yet another mobile device.

Moves recognizes four types of motion: walking, running, cycling, and “transport,” which it labels any movement in a motorized vehicle. As you go about your day, it works in the background, counting your steps as well as your mileage, using a combination of your phone’s motion tracking and occasional GPS location. The graphics update in near-real time, displaying your number of steps walking in a green circle, your number of steps running in a pink circle, and your mileage cycling in a blue circle. Touching the running or walking circles changes the display from steps to miles; touching it again shows the total time spent today in that kind of motion. There is a metric option in settings, for those who prefer their stats in kilometers.

Beneath the circles is a vertical timeline of your day’s activity, color coded to match the circles. So if you walk to the bus stop and ride to the office, your timeline shows green for the walking portion, then it switches to grey for the riding portion. Touching the timeline shows your path on a map so you can later review where you were, a feature that’s a lot more useful than you might think. If you’re the sort to vary your routes, it can be helpful to see where you went in days past, something that can be easy to forget.

The default display shows you your totals for the current day, but swiping left lets you look at your totals for days past, while swiping down shows you a calendar, letting you go directly to any specific day, even years ago. A menu in this screen lets you look also at your weekly totals.

In addition to switching to metric distances, the settings menu lets you share or export your daily totals, your weekly totals, or an image of your geographic trail on a map. There are also a battery-saving option (which is not recommended, as it compromises accuracy); a calorie-counter, which you activate by inputting your age, height, and weight; and a notifications option, which gives you a daily step total and tells you when you’ve broken personal records. Logging in at the app’s website also lets you export your accumulated data.

The Moves API lets third-party apps connect to your Moves data. There are currently more than 40 connectable apps, allowing a range of interesting things to do with your activity, including gamifying it with stickers and achievements, quantifying it with other activity (such as geolocation check-ins), and summarizing your activity for monthly or yearly reports.

The app comes with a few drawbacks. Activity within a fixed location (such as at the gym) can be logged, but it must be added manually, and while the app will count steps on a treadmill, its accuracy for this specific activity is erratic. Although it works fine most of the time, it will once in a while shut itself off, missing what can be a large number of steps toward your daily goal, which can be maddening. It will also on occasion misdiagnose your activity (tracking it as transport instead of walking, for example). These errors can be edited, usually with a fairly reliable adjustment in steps and miles, by touching the mistaken segment in your map view and then the “edit” pencil. Since it runs continuously, it does use up your battery, although its most recent version has been an enormous improvement in this realm. Still, if you’re using your smartphone as actively as many of us do, you might want to pack a backup battery whenever you’re out and about. And its best feature—its simplicity—can be a negative if you crave more data and more features.

Still, Moves is a free starter app for quantifying your fitness behavior. It’s easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and a simple addition to your daily smartphone usage, since it runs in the background. Set yourself a daily or weekly stepcount goal, and check the app throughout the day to see how you’re doing. The frequent reminder will motivate you to get those numbers up. Whether you just need a little nudge to get yourself moving more or you’re looking to track an already healthy lifestyle, Moves can be a gentle way to dip your toes into quantified living.


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Mobile App Review: Fitness Tracking With The Moves App - Executive Leadership Articles

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