Some pedometer apps can't distinguish a walk from a ride

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2012, 12:00am


Pedometer Ultimate - iStepCounter
99 US cents
Rating 9/10

It's the first week of 2012, and you're probably still sticking to your New Year's resolution: mission new svelte body. Dietitians will tell you that small steps count in what could be a mission impossible, and the best way to track your steps is with a pedometer.

The idea is that you use a pedometer to become aware of how many steps you take each day, and make conscious choices that will result in a higher calorie burn through walking more - choices such as walking up one or two flights of stairs or getting off the bus early.

My first pedometer download was the All-in Pedometer (US$1.99), which allows trackers to record daily goals, heart rate, weight and waist and hip measurements. It also has a pacer and a GPS function that maps your movements. You can also load a playlist of your music.

I used this app around Taipei: I wanted to test the theory that while on holiday, you can eat as much as you want because you burn it all off as you traipse around sightseeing. If I believed the results displayed at the end of day one, I would have achieved my goal. But even I couldn't fool myself that I had walked 17.3 kilometres.

Despite its gadgetry, the app is oversensitive, so it also tracked my trips on the MRT (Taipei's mass transit railway). This I could see from its useful mapping function. It was also a heavy drain on my battery. While not something to use through the day, because of its functionality this app would be useful for tracking an exercise session.

On day two, I took Pedometer Ultimate - iStepCounter out for a walk. The write-up promised that this app could tell the difference between walking and a trip on the subway. The app also features a smart sensing technology that helps save battery power. Despite its lower price, the app also tracks weight and gives a count of steps, estimated distance, speed and calorie burn.

In practice, this app works better for daily tracking, but I did find that I had to check after periods of inactivity counting steps, as it turns itself off occasionally. And no, in conclusion, I cannot eat as much as I want while on holiday.