Today as promised on facebook, the author of this post tried out the new app from Every Body Walk: the campaign to get America moving. The app is available for android through Google play and for the iPhone through the iTunes store and is billed by its maker as something beyond a pedometer, with the ability to map out your walk and calculate the number of calories burned based upon your weight.
The app downloaded and installed without error, but that was about the extent of the good news. I had to re-start my walk twice as it failed to register my movements and count any calories. When I did look at the screen at the end of my walk, I found some astonishing news: in just over 12 minutes (since the last re-start), my dog and I had walked 14.5 miles and I had burned about 513,618 calories. Even for some one bad at math such as myself, I can estimate that with those numbers we must have been cruising at around 70mph and I am guessing that our source of fuel must have been something other than food to have racked up that calorie count.
In all fairness, we did throw some variables at this program. For one, the site where we tried it is a bit of a geographical anomaly as far as a cell phone would be concerned, with GPS pinning us down in one state but with cell service coming to us from atop the next hill to the east, located in another state. For another, our walk started by walking across and out of a large building, and continuing across a very long parking lot, then through a tightly wrapped loop trail. To further complicate issues, we rarely had a clear view of the sky out there in the woods, and satellites typically need little to nothing between themselves and the device you are using in order to provide you with service.
Now I would say that the app deserves a second chance. One try is hardly scientific. With that in mind however, it is hardly worth the time if its GPS tracking restrains it to only accurately measuring exercise taken along a marked and mapped road. In this neck of the woods, many of us like to walk (often with a dog or two) on a trail. If the app relies on using a satellite and tracking your walk along a map (like Google maps) I hardly see how this can be something beyond a pedometer. So far it has fallen short of even that purpose.
I will fiddle with the settings and report back with updates – if there are any. The interface – while slick – is very simplistic. It provides great graphics and goals to help keep walkers on track, but it only seems to allow users to input their name and weight. Nothing apparently allows users to adjust settings to make the app more amenable to walkers living in wooded or rural areas.
Under the circumstances the app gets a grade of Incomplete. If it can’t be improved or customized through the settings, however, I am afraid the grade will need to be a D – out of generosity.