The BlackBerry of things
As trends go, ‘quantified self ’ has arguably the sexiest name. This trend has also entered the mainstream over the last two years with apps, wristbands and WiFiconnected scales for collecting data about your life and sticking it in the cloud. Nobody’s quite sure what to do with all this data yet, but we can figure that out later. And the less you have to interfere with these things, generally, the better they work. You don’t want to do the datagathering homework after all; you just want the resulting insights into your behaviour. Meet Moves – the app that gets out the way and tracks your trekking.
Apple doesn’t just dish out app awards like plates at a Greek wedding. When it does, it’s usually to make a statement about what people should be doing with their gadgets. Moves was the big award winner for Apple in 2013 as one of the first apps that utilises the new M7 processor built into the iPhone 5s, designed for accurate activity tracking. While you’re going about your day, Moves taps into the dedicated movement processor to gather information about what you’re doing. When you walk
The next level of activity tracking
Free somewhere, Moves detects it. When you go for a run you don’t have to do anything, Moves knows that you’re running now.
The result is a log of your daily activities and all you had to do was carry your phone around with you. The log is beautiful to look at and includes maps and destinations of places you stopped at. If something is incorrectly identified, you can edit the entry to align with nearby hotspots from the Foursquare service or add your own. Moves will then learn about the places you frequently visit for future tracking. An Android version recently launched that wasn’t included in this test, but we were very impressed at the results on an iPhone 5s. Moves
Chronos my morning trail run, my drive to work and coffee runs from the office. Going through the log to correct locations was more fun than anything else and Moves is also a nice diary of what you’ve been up to.
I was also surprised to find that Moves didn’t have a massive impact on the battery life of the iPhone. This is a common problem with tracking apps that are currently accessing GPS chips and sensors on the device and overloading the battery. Moves, and probably Apple’s M7 chip, manage to do this all without drastically diminishing battery life, although there certainly is an affect. It doesn’t seem like an unreasonable tradeoff.
This is arguably the best way of tracking your activities that we’ve seen, bar none. The interface is also beautiful and intuitive. But where Moves gets really interesting is in its integration with other apps and services for combining your data and gleaning insights. Services supported by Moves include Human API, Momento and others where you can do everything from monitor your health metrics to automatically generating a life journal with photos from your phone included.
Moves isn’t perfect, however. It doesn’t seem to detect elevation on runs, so you feel cheated out of all the hills you tackled. It also missed some of my walks around town and the editing is limited, so you can’t really add destinations after the fact. All things considered it is an impressive app and an interesting play at becoming a central platform for your activity tracking. You also can’t argue with the non-existent price tag.