There are many apps for mobile phones that enable you to track your activities. In this article I look at two, one running on Android and the other on iOS - Sports Tracker and Walkmeter They are both typical of the genre.
This is not really a head-to-head battle to see which one is the best app because most people don’t have the opportunity to choose whether to install an Android or iOS app. I’m unusual because I have both types of phone, so I can see the pros and cons of both platforms.
There were differences between the two apps that go beyond the interface and Walkmeter on the iPhone 6 used slightly less battery than Sports Tracker on the Samsung Galaxy S6. Any app on any platform that uses GPS to track your position as you move around will use a lot of battery power, but the iPhone is slightly more energy efficient than Android phones.
When pausing and stopping you have to make sure you stop the apps rather than leave them running in the background because they can still use the battery. Especially on Android. The difference isn’t huge, but the Samsung Galaxy 6 is definitely worse than the iPhone 6 when it comes to battery life.
When using these apps to track your fitness activity outdoors you have to start with a full charge, particularly if you are going on a long run, walk or bike ride lasting several hours. If you set off with only 50% charge you might find that it is dead in a couple of hours. That is the downside of sports trackers and they are all pretty much the same in this respect. However, they are still useful tools and they provide lots of fascinating statistics about your activities.
Sports Tracker Running Cycling
This is a free app that has a lot of features for sporty types who like to monitor their activities and there are in-app purchases for people that want even more detail in the statistics. Although the app name mentions running and cycling, there are over 25 different activities that can be monitored on the menu.
When you start a new session there is a very long list of activities that contains the usual walking, running, cycling, but also unusual ones like Nordic Skiing, roller skating and skateboarding.
You always try harder when competing against someone else and so Sports Tracker has an interesting Ghost Target option. This pits you against a previous workout on the same route. It’s like trying to beat your best time, except that it’s live, sort of. (Note: That’s an in-app purchase.)
Many activities, such as running, walking, cycling and so on, can be tracked using GPS and there are five screens of information during and after an activity. The main one shows the time, distance, speed and average speed. Altitude is also tracked and so is your heart rate and energy burnt if you connect a Sports Tracker heart rate monitor. A gym session just records heart rate because you stay in one location.
Sports Tracker builds up a diary by logging your activities and this is interesting. You can review activities and look at the route on a map, see the times, distances, calories burnt, lap times, speed and altitude charts and so on.
Friends can be added to the app and activities can be private, shared with friends, or made public. There is a nice feature that shows all the public activities in your area and you can see where people walked, ran, cycled and so on. The route is shown on a map and you can see their times.
This is a great app that looks good and it records all the information you want. Its high rating of 4.5 in the Google Play Store is well deserved.
Title: Sports Tracker Running Cycling
Developer: Sports Tracking Technologies
Android: Varies with device
Verdict: A good free sports tracker. Some advanced features require a Premium upgrade.
Walkmeter GPS Pedometer - Walking Running Hiking for Weight Loss Walk Tracker
Unlike Sports Tracker, Walkmeter does little more than is in the extra-long name of this activity tracking app for the iPhone. It offers to record your walks or hikes and it doesn’t even have run or cycle option. There is no reason why you can’t use it for running and cycling and just about anything else that can be tracked with GPS because cycling, skiing and other activities are not measured any differently to walking. So why not have the options on the menu?
The home screen has the usual elements and you can see your location on a map while you are tracked using the GPS facility on the phone. The screen shows the duration of the activity, the distance, pace and calories burnt. There is a useful pace chart at the bottom that shows where on the route you were faster or slower.
Several other screens are available and they show things like the fastest speed and the average pace, your elevation over time, and so on. There aren’t any options to monitor your heart rate though.
A calendar shows the days on which you engaged in activity and tapping a date shows what you did on that day. It is like a simple diary and you can open the activity and see the details like times, distances, pace, maps of routes, split times, and so on.
Your activities can also be browsed in list form and this is actually easier than the calendar. A Sum button shows the totals for the month and this included the number of activities, distance, average distance, time, calories and so on. It makes for interesting reading.
The app is free, but as is usual there are some features that require an annual subscription. However, it is quite cheap compared to the high price charged by some fitness trackers. It’s only $9.99 / £7.99 for a year.
Title: Walkmeter GPS Pedometer - Walking Running Hiking for Weight Loss Walk Tracker
Verdict: Shows lots of useful statistics about activities. Supports Apple Watch.
I prefer the Android app because of the large clear text and it has some nice features. Some screens on the iPhone have quite small text that looks out of place because parts of the screen are left empty. Walkmeter could be more attractively designed, but it does support Apple Watch, which will interest some people.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 04 February 2016