Moves is a new iPhone app designed to track your activity – running, walking, and cycling – over the course of a full day. It’s free, and requires no additional devices. The only requirement is that it remains running in the background. You can download Moves from the iTunes store [No longer available].
What Does It Do?
Here’s how it works. When the app is running (either in the background or foreground), it uses the accelerometer to measure steps taken during walking or running movements, and GPS to track routes as well as transport, or cycling actions. It sends this data to its servers for analysis, and at the end of it all you get a pretty little graph of the days actions. You can scroll back and forth to cycle through each day’s data and compare your relative activity levels.
To be honest, describing how to use the app would be condescending – you launch the app, and it immediately begins tracking your movement and location data. That’s it.
There is a settings screen from which you can temporarily pause tracking or disable it until the next charge, as well as select the units displayed. Other than that, you have weekly and monthly notifications which can display a short summary of actions. That’s it.
The intended purpose is to replace separate tracking devices like the Nike+. Why bother with these when you’re already carrying a phone?
Obviously, the primary concern with an app such as this is how detrimental it is to your battery life. Although GPS is constantly on, the developers have worked hard to ensure it’s used sparingly only when needed. Generally speaking, your phone will last a full day with Moves running in the background. It is designed to used by people who charge their phone every night. I fit into that category perfectly. At night, my iPhone remains plugged in and sitting on my bed in order to track sleep data.
Limitations & Privacy concerns
Right now, the data collected by the app is not accessible by any other services – you can’t import the runs recorded into Fitocracy or RunKeeper, for instance. It is purely visual candy, and the only export options available are to save the daily timeline as a picture file, email or tweet it. The developers are working on an API though, so expect this app to gain more functionality in the coming months.
It appears that a constant net connection is also required. The route mapping was a little off when the signal suddenly cut out while walking the dog (as did my streaming radio app).
As a standalone app to automatically gather basic information about your daily activities and routes, Moves does its job well. It does need more integration with other services, and it’s a prime candidate for a big of gamification – badges, goals, points etc. Early stages yet then, but if you think this is something that might useful to you now or in the future, it would be a good idea to start gathering data immediately.