Activity trackers are all over the place, except maybe on the wrist of the vast majority of the public. Moves is an app that launched with the goal of putting that power on devices people already carry with a software-based activity tracker, and now it’s expanding its availability from iOS to Android.
The iOS app from the Helsinki and London-based startup has seen over 2.5 million downloads since launching on iPhone back in January, and Moves CEO and Designer Sampo Karjalainen credits its success to the combined price and convenience of using his company’s software vs. hardware accessories like the Jawbone UP or the Fitbit Flex.
“The mobile phone will be the activity tracker for the mainstream,” he said in an interview. “There are over a billion smartphones in the market that could do all-day activity tracking. Dedicated activity tracker gadgets make sense for specific needs, but the big opportunity is in mobile phone as an activity tracker.”
Still, Karjalainen says that Moves will be watching the progress of multi-purpose wearable hardware to see how it might be able to take advantage of those devices. Jawbone has just opened the API for UP, for instance, which means software like Moves could use its hardware to enhance its own apps, too.
Maybe more exciting is Apple’s new M7 processor, tech in the iPhone 5s that act independent of the A7 main system-on-a-chip to track motion, conserving battery. It’s a boost for Moves, but not the be-all and end-all for motion-tracking startups, Karjalainen says.
“The M7 confirms our vision. Mobile phone manufacturers are clearly starting to recognize the opportunity in smartphone-based activity tracking,” he explained. “The great thing is that M7 helps minimize battery consumption, which has been the biggest limiting factor. But it lacks cycling recognition and is available only for top model, iPhone 5s, so we can’t fully rely on it.”
As for the new Android app, the attention here has been about making sure Moves actually replicates the same kind of experience users have on iPhone in terms of accurately tracking daily activity.
“On Android we’ve first focused on making the core technology work well, and this means that 1.0 version doesn’t have all features of iPhone version yet,” Karjalainen said. “We’ll add for example Connected Apps support and user accounts soon. We think the 1.0 version is a great simple way to track your activities and document your life.”
He also added that the team considered using the new Google Play Activity Recognition APIs, which Google itself provides, to track a phone’s movement with Moves for Android, but in the end they could recognize running with their own house-made tech, while Google’s couldn’t, and their cycling algorithm was more accurate in testing.
Moves may face more competition as a result of the M7 and Google’s APIs, but it clearly feels it can keep ahead by focusing on differentiating via its own movement-tracking software engineering efforts. The startup also has a head start on an exciting market, so tapping the large potential user pool that comes with Android is a good step.