Appy Mondays – My Fitness Pal
By James Clifton (@cliffioo)
My Fitness Pal is an app from My Fitness Pal Inc. a company set up solely for the purpose of creating this application.
The app’s main purpose is to help users lose weight and develop a healthier lifestyle. It’s among one of the most highly rated apps out there, and if you haven’t heard about it or haven’t used it for a while, read on because there have been quite a few updates over it’s time that make it a much more interesting and useful mobile app.
Fitness apps are nothing new and there are now so many different calorie counters and diet apps out there that it’s very difficult to be heard in the crowd. My Fitness Pal was one of the first, and they have continually updated and improved the app over time which has kept them at the top of that tree.
And the best thing about it, it works!
The premise is very simple. You firstly enter all your details and sign up, using social media or create a unique login, you then set your goals, what weight you currently are, what weight you want to achieve, how quickly you want to lose weight etc.
Once you have done this, the app works out your daily calorie goal. This is a basic goal to try and keep under, but you can manually change this goal if you feel that it’s just too difficult or not quite right for you, and the goal adjusts based on the weight you are losing over time and if your exercise regime changes.
There are a lot of other features within the app including entering your exercise regimes and now you can even link the app up with other fitness apps or various fitness trackers so that the calorie counter can work out your net calorie intake along with your activity throughout the day.
But how does it hold up in our criteria review?
So how does it look? Well that does actually depend on the mobile platform you are on. I currently only have access to the Android and iOS versions of the app, if I manage to get my hands on a Windows phone at any point, I will update accordingly.
So the app works on both platforms in much the same way, using a food input area and barcode scanner etc. for entering in your calorie intake. The colour schemes are consistent across the two platforms and generally things are similar. But things are a bit more slick and friendly in my opinion on iOS, things just seem to be less clunky and just overall laid out better. They use some nice colour schemes for the different input options on iOS, whereas on Android everything tends to be the blue and grey colour scheme and some areas can be pretty bland.
iOS 4 / 5
Android 3 / 5
Again the UX and UI of the app differs between platforms. But this time it’s much more evident than in the design. The layout of the main home screen is very different and I feel that the iOS version of the app is much more intuitive than its Android counterpart.
Simply adding a food item or exercise etc. on iOS is much simpler, navigating between them using the ‘+’ icon at the foot of the homepage, whereas on Android you tap the add item button and then scroll through the list to find the right type of input.
The Android version also uses a panel menu from the left, which isn’t necessarily immediately obvious that it’s accessible by tapping in the top left corner of the screen by the logo, whereas the iOS version uses the highly intuitive and simple footer tab system. This is also much easier to use on a large screen as the foot of the screen is much more accessible for a user’s thumb, whereas the top left is not so comfortable to reach.
iOS 4.5 / 5
Android 3 / 5
In terms of fun, the app isn’t fun to use in itself. However the actual reward of losing the weight and actually following the instructions of the app are very rewarding. It may be made more fun using badge and game mechanics to help user’s motivate themselves for results.
There are things like the ability to add friends, take part in forums etc. However the usual immediate ‘Fun’ element isn’t there, however that isn’t the initial aim of this app.
2.5 / 5
Addictive / Reusable
The addictive element of the app is simply seeing your progress and tracking the weight loss as it happens. You are also encouraged to log in often and you get log in streaks for doing so. You can also see friends progress and motivate each other.
Overall the app is very useful and beneficial if used in the right way and it can become quite addictive.
4 / 5
The app incredible value. It’s completely free. There are minimal, if any ads. the app has developed blogs and recipes integration when users post their results for each day, but other than that, it’s great value for a product that works.
Overall the app does exactly what it sets out to do. Of course a lot of making the app work is having the willpower and being honest with what you eat. But used properly and well it really does work. I’ve managed to lose a lot of weight using this app to track my calorie count, and if anything it simply makes the user more aware of their intake, and that can only be a good thing.
As I said before, on Android the app is a little clunky, slow and a bit annoying to use at times, so the best version from my experience is definitely the iOS version.
If the app was to add in a couple of interactive and fun elements, using game badges or using gamification techniques to make the process of losing the weight (or even building mass) more fun and interesting, then it would get top marks.