Walk off the weight and get fit with a pedometer app on your phone

Walk to lose weight and improve fitness: Pedometer apps compared

Walking helps to keep you fit and lose weight

Most people could do with losing a little weight and engaging in more exercise. You know it is good for you, so why aren’t you doing it? Pedometer phone apps give you the motivation.

A pedometer app counts the steps you take and your phone is probably doing that already. However, not all phones have a step counter app, and even if it does, it may not be very useful. For this reason, the Google Play Store and Apple App Store have a large collection of alternative pedometer and walking apps that can be used instead.

The Apple Health app on the iPhone tracks your steps and can tell you the number taken every day. It keeps historical data and can show how many steps you took yesterday or last week. It can tell you if you are beating your average daily or even yearly steps and its analysis is very good.

However, you have to dig down into the health app to uncover the data, there is no Today widget, no reminders to get up and get walking, no achievements, and so on. It is brilliant at counting step, but poor at motivating you to take more.

Android phones have a health app and Samsung Health for example, is pretty good. It can count steps, show calories and distance and show trends over time. It isn’t very exciting though and this means it isn’t much use as a motivational tool. Other phone manufacturers may have step counters, but do they offer more than basic counting?

There are dozens of pedometer, step counter and walking apps in the Google and Apple stores, but here I look at a handful that are almost identical on the iPhone and Android phones and they range from free to just a few dollars (or pounds).

There is more to losing weight and getting fit than walking of course, but it is a good place to start and anyone can do it. These apps track your activity and show calories burnt, distance travelled and steps. You can enter and update your weight too.

ActivityTracker

Price: Free | By: Bits&Coffee | Phone: iOS 10 / Android 5

ActivityTracker pedometer app for the iPhone

On Android, this app is called ActivityTracker – Step Counter & Pedometer and on iOS it is ActivityTracker Pedometer. The home screen is excellent and it has all the information you need, like the steps taken today, the calories burnt, distance walked, minutes of activity and floors climbed. Across the bottom of the screen is a row of animated circles that show the week’s activity.

Tap the steps and an Hourly Activity screen is displayed containing bar charts showing steps, time, floors and more. Tap at the bottom of the screen and a Daily Activity screen shows a bar chart with the steps taken each day over the past week.

On Android you get a widget for the home screen and on the iPhone there is a Today screen widget. It is the same on both platforms and is simple and clear. It shows the calories burnt, steps and a ring showing the proportion of your target completed, and distance walked.

A weekly goal can be set and the app displays daily and weekly reminders. A badge on the icon shows the steps, so you can see your progress without even opening the app, it’s there on the home screen.

ActivityTracker is visually more attractive than the phone’s built-in steps tracker and it is easier to access the information. Basically, it looks better, is more fun, and encourages activity with notifications. To remove the small advert at the bottom of the screen and add widget customization costs $4.99. (Pro code provided by Bits&Coffee).

StepsApp Pedometer

Price: Free | By: StepsApp GmbH | Phone: iOS 9 / Android 5

StepsApp pedometer app for the iPhone

StepsApp Pedometer & Step Counter for Android or StepsApp Pedometer for iPhone enables you to track your activity and it encourages you to do more with notifications.

There is a very simple home screen, but it has plenty of information. The number of steps so far today is displayed at the top and a ring shows how much of your target has been completed. Below is the number of calories burnt, distance walked, and activity time.

Right down at the bottom is a chart that shows a bar chart with todays steps by the hour, and a weekly or monthly chart showing activity, with a line across showing your goal.

Not only can you set a daily steps goal, you can also set goals for the calories, distance, time and floors. Notifications can be set for five different things and there are weekly reports and progress.

StepApp Pedometer was the most encouraging of the apps and it often displayed notifications about achievements and progress, like “More than 30 min, keep it up!”, “You have completed 80% of your goal!” or words to that effect.

This is an excellent app that has everything you need from a pedometer. It tracks you, shows your activity over time, and encourages you to meet targets. The Today screen widget on the iPhone is very nice and shows everything – steps calories distance, time and a mini weekly chart. The Android home screen widget is a bit simpler.

Removing the small advert and adding some extra customization options is cheap at $2.99.

Pedometer – Step Counter

Price: Free | By: ITO Technologies | Phone: iOS 8 / Android 4.1

Pedometer - Step Counter app for the iPhone

Pedometer – Step Counter for Android and Pedometer α – Step Counter for iPhone are completely free and there is no option to upgrade to a pro version. On the one hand, it will not cost you anything, but on the other hand you must put up with a small advert at the bottom of the screen. The ad is exactly the same as in the other pedometer apps in free mode, but you just can’t pay to remove it.

At the top of the screen is a large display of the number of steps taken. In a table below is the calories, distance, time and speed. Tapping each of these shows a chart, so there are five in total. It looks like a simple display, but there is more information than you might think.

There are many color schemes to choose from, but no notifications and no widget for iPhone Today or Android home screen. That is a missed opportunity and it makes the app less useful than the others. It is still good though, and it will not cost you anything.

Pedometer – Track My Steps

Price: Free | By: Zen Labs| Phone: iOS 10 / Android 4.4

Pedometer - Track My Steps app for the iPhone

Pedometer – Track My Steps for Android and Track My Steps – Pedometer for iPhone is a simpler app than the others, but is worth a look. A big step counter is in the middle of the screen and the ring around it shows how much of your daily goal has been completed. You can also see the distance walked and the time active.

A History screen shows recent daily achievements and a week’s worth of information is displayed in a compact format. You can easily see which days you met or failed to reach your goal. There is a daily summary, but no home screen widgets or other notifications. It is just a simple step counter.

The Android version of this app kept telling me to install Google Fit to track steps, although it tracked them without it. Both Android and iOS apps require payment of $1.99 to track calories in addition to steps, this will also remove the small ad banner at the bottom.

Conclusion

There are dozens of other apps in the Android and iOS stores, but these four are typical of what you will find in a basic pedometer. There are some that use GPS and display routes on maps, but the apps here just focus on activity. It doesn’t matter where you walk, it is the steps, time and distance that matter when you want to get fit and lose weight.

Pedometer Today screen widgets on the iPhone

My personal favorite is StepsApp Pedometer because it offers more encouraging notifications than the other apps, I like the widget with the mini chart, and it is cheaper to go pro, but ActivityTracker is a close second. These apps support the Apple Watch for even better activity tracking and they pull in your step history from Apple Health.


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