Who wants a calorie counter when you have Pedometer++?

Iteration on a proof-of-concept

One of the indie iOS and Mac developers I've come to appreciate most in the last year is "underscore" David Smith. With such a prolific developer is not difficult to bump into one of his apps on the App Store and get the wrong impression — there are a lot of audiobook apps with zero glamour out there. These days, if you are a RSS subscription person, you've heard of his incredible work with Feed Wrangler.

Thanks to appearances in podcasts such as the B&B, a couple with Myke Hurley and Developing Perspective, I now understand better his modus operandi. He is a person who likes to iterate on ideas when they work and move on to the next one when they don't.

In a recent post on his personal site, David Smith shares some thoughts on adoption and reveals some of the typical uses of his experimental app Pedometer++. It's crazy to see how people are discarding their pricy calorie counters, fuel bracelets and other gadgets for a humble free app.

What started as a simple project to see how the information collected by the M7 coprocessor on the iPhone 5S could be visualised, has won homescreen space for a bunch of users. In my case, Pedometer ++ has become one of the apps I keep launching at least a couple of times a day — and I'm not a fitness person at all! Based on the idea that a healthy lifestyle involves walking 10,000 steps every day, the app extracts the step counting data on the M7 to show how far you are from your daily target. Just remember to check the app settings and select your height and gender before you start using it so the app gives you a realistic step calculation for you.

What is the next step?

Despite being a free, the feedback received has motivated the developer to continue working on a 2.0 update. The new version is out now featuring a new interface, bolder design and localisation for plenty of languages. While I enjoyed the look of the Pedometer++, the new style leans a lot more on custom typography, which will be useful to differentiate it from the App Store copycats.

If you thought the previous version made you feel bad about your sedentary day job, wait to see this: the top navigation bar ditches the standard white and reacts to your performance, using traffic light colours as tints. This means that most of the morning you are going to see everything red (unless you went clubbing the night before!), move to orange in the afternoon and hopefully get to green by the end of the day.

Even if I'm not in the market for any fitness-tracking device, I think a lot of people like me are going to enjoy Pedometer++. It has become one of the cool apps I show when we go for a long walk. I've even used it to explain what the M7 does to a friend doubting between an iPhone 5C and 5S: I don't think I could go back to using an app draining battery with GPS that I had to remember to launch.

It is a rare thing for a software developer to know that what I’m building is tangibly improving the health and lives of my customers. I have to say, it is a great feeling. I’m very grateful that Apple added this to iPhone and really hope they continue to expand in this area moving forward.

It doesn't look like Pedometer++ is going to be a massively profitable venture and it's not really what has motivated this update, but remember you can still show your appreciation of the work that went into it with a donation in-app-purchase. If you have an iPhone 5S, download it and surprise yourself seeing how little you move.