Fitness apps are all the rage today. According to recent research, 42% of smartphone or tablet owners use at least one fitness app. As wearable devices become more widespread and accessible, an increasing number of consumers is connecting their smart wearables to apps with the aim of tracking their health and fitness. We recently witnessed an explosion of new products that promise to track steps or count calories to help users become fitter, stronger, and healthier.
However, many of these apps fail to maintain users’ attention in the long run. Here are 7 things people hate in fitness apps after using them for a while.
#1. Counting calories doesn’t make sense
If there’s a common characteristic to practically all fitness apps available on the market is their central goal: to motivate people to eat less and exercise more. Most of the time, they ask users to track what they eat and record their physical activity. That’s how they can quantify whether users intake more calories than they burn every day.
However, counting calories is way too simplistic. For example, if the user takes specific medications, they may cause weight gain or loss by changing hormone levels in the body. This proves that energy balance is not everything when it comes to weight or health.
But the most severe problem with fitness apps is that they treat all calories the same. Calories coming from high fructose corn syrup are counted as similar to calories from lean meat protein – even though science tells us that these calorie types have a completely different impact on our bodies.
#2. Lack of automation
And while we’re talking about calories, it’s important to note that most fitness apps ask users to log everything they eat each day. Fitness apps suffer from lack of automation features that allow users to input all required information together much quicker.
It’s hard to imagine users who would spend time on logging their food every single day for a more extended period. That’s why many users abandon these apps after a month or two. They simply run out of patience.
#3. Drained battery
Another serious disadvantage of fitness apps is that they require a lot of energy to track the activity of users. As a result, going out for a jog with a smartphone that counts steps or measures the heart rate through a connection to a wearable device works only with a full battery.
Many users experience battery drainage after regular use of these apps. It’s normal to exercise for one or two hours, but these it’s apps often drain the battery of mobile devices way too quickly.
#4. GPS problems
Another serious problem lies in the GPS connectivity. Apps that allow users to track their running routes and compare them with others sometimes make mistakes and calculate different paths than the one a user completed in reality.
As a result, few users continue using the fitness apps that fail to measure and calculate routes properly, because these mistakes automatically affect the number of calories burned and many other metrics. It’s pointless to use an imprecise tool for tracking fitness achievements.
#5. Community support
According to experts in behavior health, lack of community support from friends or family is a severe disadvantage when it comes to lifestyle changes such as adopting a healthier diet or getting more exercise.
Fitness apps still failed to provide us with active communities to help users to surround themselves with people who are just as motivated. Many apps offer social functionalities for sharing successes with other people via social media, but getting support from users is still a rarity.
#6. Too much data
Another serious problem with fitness apps is that they rely on a multitude of data about health. And with so many alternatives out there, it’s hard to find the insights that work and apply them to mobile products.
That’s why it’s essential that fitness apps creators first focus on narrowing down the information to learn what really makes health activities actionable and easy to understand for users. Only then the app creators will be able to implement functionalities that are of real help to users.
#7. Gamification fails to provide long-term motivation
Most fitness apps rely on game-like incentives to motivate specific behaviors, be it exercising regularly or counting calories. But all games to come to an end. And you can bet that when the novelty of prizes like points and leaderboard scores wears off, users may find the experience boring and monotonous.
When counting steps is no longer as exciting as it used to be, users are far more likely to quit. That’s why fitness apps should concentrate more on helping users learn to enjoy the activity itself instead of dividing it into a series of artificial goals. Most people do sports because they genuinely enjoy them, not because the app tells them to – and never set themselves similar goals.
Fitness is a vital sector in the mobile apps industry. We can expect more fitness apps to appear on the market in the near future and some of them will carry on with these mistakes. However, fitness also presents an opportunity for the future of health tech. Fitness apps of the future should focus on helping users learn to like physical activity for what it is, perhaps by offering more personalization options (research shows fitness apps are more effective when personalized).
They should also employ more sophisticated systems that would assist users in their food choices instead of counting calories. Technical matters ranging from automation to GPS connectivity and battery usage should be taken into account as well. We hope that the new generation of fitness apps will help users achieve their goals, but also provide assistance to help them live healthier and longer lives.
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