Testing iPhone Pedometer Apps

The other day, my husband asked if there was a pedometer app that he could add to his phone to see how much he walked at work (a lot). There’s actually been an explosion of this type of app since the release of the iPhone 5s, which has the M7 motion co-processor. However, neither of us has a 5s. Complicating the question further (as I was about to discover), my husband has never bothered to update to iOS 7, and most of the prominent pedometer apps require it.

Here is what I found:

Pedometer Apps for iOS 6.0+

After some research, I got him set up with this free pedometer app:

Steps Pedometer and Step Counter Activity Tracker

Steps - Activity Tracker (AppStore Link) Steps - Activity Tracker
Developer: Phillip Kast
Rated: 4+4.5
Price: Free Download from the App Store

Not only did it work on iOS 6, it also runs in the background, whereas most of the other apps I looked at required the user to start a session. Steps has an attractive, minimalist design that I liked and its features are basic, but adequate for my husband’s needs. The display shows the number of steps, time, distance, and an estimate of calories burned, and the app allows you to set a goal for minimum number of steps per day. (10,000 is a common recommendation.) It saves a basic history of how many steps per day, but doesn’t have a lot of fancy graphs like some other pedometer apps. On the downside, it seemed to suck quite a bit of energy from the battery and my husband ultimately decided that the data wasn’t worth the risk of having his phone die while at work, so he decided to delete the app.

Pedometer Apps That Require iOS 7.0 or higher

While researching options, a few of the pedometer apps that required iOS 7.0 or higher caught my interest and I decided to test a few out, since I do have iOS 7.

Pacer – Pedometer plus Weight Management and Blood Pressure Tracker

Pacer Pedometer & Step Tracker (AppStore Link) Pacer Pedometer & Step Tracker
Developer: Pacer Health, Inc
Rated: 4+5
Price: Free Download from the App Store

I liked the attractive user interface of this free pedometer app, which is informative without being crowded or busy-looking. I also liked that the app runs in the background, but also has an option to track specific sessions if you are interested in seeing how much an individual walk contributes to your daily steps count. Pacer can sync with My Fitness Pal and track weight and blood pressure, as well as steps, calories, and active time. The app also has various graphs to track your progress and some fitness plans, such as Walk 4 Weight Loss, that you can add on for extra guidance. All-in-all, an attractive and very functional app that should be a great choice for most people’s needs.

Runtastic Pedometer Step Counter & Walking Tracker

Pedometer Step Counter & Walk Tracker by Runtastic (AppStore Link) Pedometer Step Counter & Walk Tracker by Runtastic
Developer: runtastic
Rated: 4+2.5
Price: Free Download from the App Store

Okay, I’m not gonna lie. This one caught my attention because it offers mPoints, so you can earn things like Amazon gift cards just for walking around. However, the free app is more limited than Pacer. Among other things, it doesn’t estimate calories or track steps in the background, only during sessions. So for that reason, I preferred Pacer and ended up deleting this app after only a couple days.

Walkathon + Fitness Games by Striiv

Walkathon + Fitness Games by Striiv (AppStore Link) Walkathon + Fitness Games by Striiv
Developer: Striiv, Inc.
Rated: 4+4.5
Price: Free Download from the App Store

This free app by Striiv also caught my attention due to a gimmick – a couple, in fact. First, you have something called MyLand, which is a fantasy building game that you progress through by earning points from your activity tracking. If you have friends in the app, you can also start a “walkathon” and earn money for charity, but I haven’t tried that yet.

This app ended up being my favorite of the three pedometer apps I tried. It doesn’t present the data as attractively or efficiently as Pacer, but I love the little challenges that pop up. On my first day of trying the app, I easily racked up over 3000 steps in an hour and a half trying to beat the timer. The app also tracks steps in the background and rewards you for milestones such as hitting 1500 steps (a “strong start”) and “walking the Golden Gate Bridge” (walking 2.8 km).

Striiv has some social features that add an element of friendly competition, with a leaderboard showing the most steps and the most improved every day from your group of friends. Because I only had one actual friend using the app, the app automatically added two strangers to compete against (and one, I might add, is pretty stiff competition).

Since I was winning so many points in challenges, I eventually started playing MyLand and though I initially dismissed it as sort of cutesy, I have found that it encourages me to do just a few more steps to get enough energy to finish building something or growing a plant.

My primary complaint about the app is that it sometimes seems to freeze and stop tracking steps for a short period of time, and this occasionally makes you “lose” a challenge that you actually won. However, this doesn’t happen often.

Overall, I would say that if getting data about your activity level is your primary goal, your best bet is Pacer, but if you want to motivate yourself to move more, the social and gamification aspects of Striiv might be just the ticket.


Moves (AppStore Link) Moves
Developer: ProtoGeo Oy
Rated: 4+1.5
Price: Free Download from the App Store

When my husband asked me about pedometer apps, this was the first one that came to my mind. I decided to try the three apps above thanks to the poor reviews for this app, but at the very least, it’s popular!


Argus: Calorie Counter & Step (AppStore Link) Argus: Calorie Counter & Step
Developer: Azumio Inc.
Rated: 4+5
Price: Free Download from the App Store

Checked this one out under the impression that it also had a built-in sleep tracker, but it seems that it actually uses the SleepTime app for that, and I prefer SleepBot.

MotionX 24/7: Sleep Cycle Alarm, Snore, Apnea, Heart Rate Monitor, Weight Loss, Activity Tracker

Sleeptracker® 24/7 (AppStore Link) Sleeptracker® 24/7
Developer: Fullpower Technologies, Inc.
Rated: 4+4.5
Price: $0.99 Download from the App Store

An all-in-one paid app that includes both activity and sleep tracking. MotionX 24/7 seems to be very well-reviewed, but I decided to try some of the free apps first.

Pedometer Apps That Require the iPhone 5s

During my research, I bumped into several apps that required the iPhone 5s. Since I don’t have one, I can’t download them, but thought I’d add a couple to the list here to remind myself to try if I do get a 5s. Note: all of the other apps listed on this page work on the iPhone 5s (and several are optimized for it) – these are just that apps that actually require it.


Breeze - Pedometer, walk tracker, activity log and movement coach made simple (AppStore Link) Breeze - Pedometer, walk tracker, activity log and movement coach made simple
Developer: RunKeeper, LLC
Rated: 4+4
Price: Free Download from the App Store

I noticed this one on Apple’s Best New Apps awhile back and liked the attractive user interface. It will be high on my list to try if I ever get an iPhone 5s.


Pedometer++ (AppStore Link) Pedometer++
Developer: Cross Forward Consulting, LLC
Rated: 4+4.5
Price: Free Download from the App Store

Pedometer++ has fewer features than many similar apps, but seems pretty highly regarded.

Non-App Pedometers

Wearable Activity Trackers

Of course, another option is a wearable activity tracker. I have a friend who really likes her Fitbit One, and have also heard good things about the Fitbit Flex, Fitbit Force, and Jawbone UP. I’ve heard the Fitbit One is more accurate, but I’d be worried about losing it, so I lean towards the Fitbit Flex, personally:

Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband, Black, Small/Large

Price: $99.98

3.6 out of 5 stars (18160 customer reviews)

4 used & new available from $99.98