Reviews

Activity Tracking With Mobile Apps

March 29, 2015

Recently I came across a study that suggests activity tracking with mobile devices can be as accurate as off-the-shelf purchasable activity trackers. I begged to differ since it really boils down to the brand of tracker and also the range of activities. You wouldn’t bring your sparkling iPhone 6 Plus for a dirt track run would you?

Fitness trackers aren’t cheap most of the time and the trend seems to suggest that half of these devices end up in the drawer after a mere 6 months. Fret not. The fitness tracking bigwigs have enabled activity tracking on compatible mobile devices for users to “trial” their app platforms.

Simply put, do your product testing before putting money down for more advanced and detailed activity trackers

I’ve downloaded and tried multitude of apps. In particular, I had very good experiences with 5 apps which are backed by fitness tracking companies Fitbit, Jawbone, Nike, Withings and Under Armour. Read on for more.

Fitbit mobile app

fitbit-mobiletrack-weekly-and-badges

The company whose name is synonymous with activity tracking. The Fitbit mobile app is superior, simple to use and functional.

A cleanly designed dashboard summarises the tracked stats with additional functions to add friends, involve them in one of 4 challenges and even an activity session tracking function. In order to use the Mobile track function, or using the mobile device as a tracker, only iPhone 5S and above are supported.

 Features:

  • Tracks steps among other stats
  • 3rd party apps compatibility
  • Add friends
  • Diet tracker
  • Achievement badges
  • Weekly email summary
  • Challenges with friends
  • Google Fit compatible

fitbit-mobiletrack-mapmyrun

Fitbit mobile app’s unique feature would have to be the in-app MapMyRun function. Using this feature, users can tap on the phone’s GPS and track workouts right down to split timings, steps counted, pace and so on.

Jawbone UP mobile app

jawbone-move

You might remember Jawbone as the company that produced Jawbone Up and UP24 bands. Recently plagued by the delayed release of the Jawbone UP 3 bands, the company has been quiet ever since the economically priced Jawbone UP Move was released.

jawbone-move-2

That being said, the Jawbone UP app is simply splendid. Users can set activity alerts and also track their calories in app.

Features:

  • Tracks steps among other stats
  • 3rd party apps compatibility
  • Add friends
  • Diet tracker
  • Weekly email summary
  • Smart Coach analyses data
  • Apple Health and Google Fit compatible
  • Step count without tracker also works on selected Android and iOS devices

jawbone smartcoach screen captures

Unique features such as Smart Coach advices and challenges differentiates the Jawbone UP app from the others mobile apps. It’s not simply about tracking and presentation of data, Jawbone goes one step further by analyzing and making sense of that data for the user. That, is the main reason why Jawbone UP is one of my featured free fitness tracking apps.

Nike+ Fuelband mobile app

nike-fuel-app-dash

The Nike+ Fuelband was one of the first fitness trackers on the market. However it didn’t evolve to consumer needs and eventually faded out. The hardware aspect has been discontinued but the concept of wearbles is still very much alive at Nike. The focus of the Nike+ Fuelband is basically gamification and challenges.

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Thought the company has ceased further development in the hardware front, Nike Fuel still has a large following.

Features:

  • Tracks steps among other stats
  • Measure activities with Nike Fuel
  • 3rd party app compatibility
  • Add friends
  • Apple Health compatible
  • Challenges and trophies
  • Activity tracking works on selected iOS devices only

The team behind Nike+ Fuelband app dreams up the most outrageous challenges. There are a multitude of trophies ranging from being active at odd hours or hitting your goals for days in a row. Lofty goals no doubt but it’s made more bearable with the “trophies”and animations you can earn and display.

Measurement of activity quality and quantity is by Nike Fuel, a common denominator across other Nike mobile apps like Nike+ Running and Nike+ Training Club.

Withings Health Mate mobile app

withings-dashboard

The French company has been making waves with recently its Activite series of wrist watches. It was only about a year back they released their Withings Pulse activity tracker that was subsequently renamed Withings Pulse Ox; the only hip worn tracker on the market that measure HR and SpO2 levels; an estimation of oxygen saturation levels.

withings-health-mate-tiles

The Withings Health Mate app has seen regular and consistent updates over time. Just a few months back, they allowed users with compatible phones to track without a need for any of Withings’ hardware. Withings is also the only one of few companies to tap on the compatible iOS device’s phone camera to measure HR.

The app is clean in design and comparable to the app from Fitbit, Nike, Jawbone and Under Armour.

Features:

  • Tracks steps among other stats
  • 3rd party apps compatibility
  • Add friends
  • Achievement badges
  • Apple Health and Google Fit compatible
  • Measures HR with phone camera on compatible devices
  • Step count without tracker also works on selected Android and iOS devices

Under Armour Record mobile app

UA-screen-capture If you have friends who are on multiple fitness tracking platforms with each telling you theirs is the better, use Under Armour Record. The Record app was released after the purchase of the MyFitnessPal and Endomondo platforms.

UA-screen-capture-2

This Under Armour Record app gathers data from most of the major fitness tracking companies and allow the user to create challenges to compete with friends. Perhaps one of you love the Fitbit mobile platform while another simply adore the Jawbone Move advices. They can continue to keep their favourites and still benchmark themselves against a group of friends with the Under Armour Record.

Features:

  • Tracks steps among other stats
  • 3rd party apps compatibility
  • Follow friends and famous athletes
  • Add friends from compatible fitness tracker platforms
  • Create custom challenges
  • Apple Health and Google Fit compatible
  • Step count without tracker also works on selected Android and iOS devices

The Under Armour Record app can also use the motion tracker from compatible iOS devices or extract step counting data from Google Fit. So there. Under Armour has taken care of 2 huge groups of consumers.

There you go, 5 free activity tracking apps backed by established companies. Use the apps as long as you like, no trial periods and no costs other than your mobile device. You’re welcome!

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