Fitness Tracker App Development – An Introductory Guide

Fitness Tracker App Development – An Introductory Guide

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Fitness tracker app development has benefits for both sports and fitness companies as well as hospitals. To create one, it is essential to learn benefits, features, hardware components, and what pain points a fitness tracker app development solves. In this blog post, we will look at the points mentioned above.

Table of Contents

Fitness App Industry

Overview

The profitability of any niche is important for an entrepreneur to invest. To understand the same, it is important to know what the future holds for the fitness app industry. In this section, information on facts and figures is shared from our online research.

US market fitness size

According to a market research conducted by Grand View Research, the U.S. fitness app market size is predicted to grow almost exponentially. As per the data shared (see the above image), the fitness app market size is expected to be around USD 10.9 billion. The image also shows an increase in app market size for the three primary types – exercise and weight loss, diet and nutrition, and activity tracking.

While there is a growing demand to develop ecosystem-backed products (smartphones and wearables), entrepreneurs should understand which devices are being preferred by the end-user. In the following image, the 2018 data shows that the majority of market share is occupied by smartphones followed by wearable devices.

Global Fitness App Market

Countries and Regions

Not every country or region can drive return on investment (ROI). The consumer behaviour is different from one region to another and not every fitness app idea will work everywhere. To make an informed decision, here is the list of regions and countries where demand is present for certain niche fitness app ideas.

Countries & Region

Use Cases and Benefits of Fitness Tracker Apps

Improves Brand Value for Sports Companies

There is more to fitness tracker apps than capabilities such as – use of sensors, community building, and others. An equal amount of emphasis is given to the brand which the fitness tracker app belongs to. Every minute spent in jogging, sleeping, exercising, and other activities, the app continually reminds the user of the brand. The constant reminder of the brand contributes towards delivering loyalty beyond reason. To elaborate loyalty beyond reason, consider the following examples of consumer behavior:

  • People waiting for multiple hours to buy a recently launched Apple product
  • Regular people using laptops or wearing clothes with stickers of brands

Investing in fitness tracker app development gives a unique advantage to brands in the sports industry. Moving beyond traditional marketing and creating an ecosystem that enables a brand to make people take action. Creating a fitness tracking app is just a stepping stone for a brand; the real benefit comes when the app becomes the most critical touchpoint in the customer-brand relationship.

Enables Healthcare to be More Patient-Centric

Many pilot programs are run by hospitals every year. The primary goal behind such programs is to embrace digitalization and make the service more patient-centric. Different pain-points are addressed by running such pilot programs. The primary pain-points addressed in such programs are:

  • Analyze the patient’s vital signs in real-time remotely
  • Lower the hospital readmission rate
  • Decrease the number of emergency room visits

While such pain points can be addressed using different solutions, the underlying idea behind them is to provide healthcare services even before any problem surfaces. Fitness tracker applications play an essential role in identifying health decisions taken by a patient, which may evolve into a severe problem. Hence, adding timely value in healthcare.

Popular Fitness Tracker Device Types

1. Smartphone

Smartphone offers a balanced set of hardware components for the fitness tracking app to operate. Such applications enable the user to gain insights into the daily fitness activities performed. For example, a fitness tracking app can record information on steps walked, the number of hours slept, burned calories, and others. After recording, the next important capability of such an app is displaying the data in a visually pleasing way. Fitness apps can be developed to show data, data charts, maps, and others to show the progress made by a user.

2. Smartwatch

A smartwatch adds convenience in the life of a patient, fitness enthusiast, and others. Custom applications can be developed for Android or iOS-based smartwatches to address different pain points. Few such pain points include monitoring the cardiovascular health of a patient, urgent care required due to physical injury such as fracture, sharing patient’s health data seamlessly with clinics, and more.

Essential Features of a Fitness Tracker Application

Features_of_Fitness_Tracking_App

1. Exercise Detection

Fitness tracking apps come handy for people participating in different sports activities. For example, the app can know when a person is swimming or going for a jog. While the manual selection of sports activities proves to be useful but to add convenience, automatic detection through sensors play a critical role.

Fitness Tracker App_notification

2. Step Counting

The step counting feature is the most basic requirement of any fitness enthusiast. Irrespective of which sports activity a user is part of, he is likely to monitor the daily steps key performance indicator (KPI). Business owners need to understand the importance of the step-counting feature and implement its fitness tracker app development.

3. Heart Rate Monitoring

As capabilities are added to mobile devices and wearables, more health monitoring benefits can be leveraged. One such capability is heart rate monitoring. Additional value can be provided to users who experience unusual changes in the heartbeat and receive irregular heartbeat notifications using sensors and advanced software capabilities.

4. Sleep Tracking

Often underestimated, sleep is perhaps an essential activity for any sports or general fitness enthusiast. Businesses operating in the sports industry can leverage this feature in their app and enable their users to – identify sleep patterns, monitor sleep quality, and more.

5. Music

One of the common behavioral traits among fitness enthusiasts and athletes is – listening to music while working out. Businesses should provide this capability along with their fitness tracker app to improve the overall user experience. As the music ecosystem is vast, the option to integrate a third-party music app using an application programming interface (API) can be explored.

Important Hardware Components for Fitness Tracking Apps

Hardware Components for Fitness Tracking Apps

1. GPS

The use of GPS is not limited to people who enjoy running. This capability is leveraged by mobile apps that provide features for cyclists, hikers, and others as well. Nearly thirty satellites are used to know the exact position of the user. Later, this data is processed and presented in a visually pleasing way.

2. Heart Rate Monitor

While there are external devices such as chest straps that enable the fitness tracker app to monitor the heartbeat rate, effective use of this capability can also be leveraged through the use of smartwatch. Take an example of two widely popular smartwatches that are powered Android and watchOS by Apple. Few smartwatch models use optical sensors while others use ECG sensors.

3. Ambient Light Sensors

Fitness enthusiasts favor an odd time to practice their sport. Some may prefer to follow their fitness routine during the day when light is abundant while few may prefer early morning before sunrise or late at night after the sunset. Due to varying daylight, it may be inconvenient to view the screen when the daylight is too low or too high. Hence, ambient light sensors add value to the life of a fitness enthusiast.

4. Essential Group of Sensors

The essential group of sensors is an integral part of most fitness tracker app development. The three most important sensors are – accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass. To understand their working in a better way, here is a brief explanation:

  • Accelerometer – Used for measurement of acceleration.
  • Gyroscope – Identifies the orientation of the device.
  • Compass – Determines the direction.

Recommended APIs to Integrate with Fitness Tracker App

There are many organizations that offer APIs to leverage advanced technology and hardware in the fitness tracker application. Few of them are Representational State Transfer (REST) APIs with the following benefits:

  • Clear separation of client and server applications which improves scalability
  • Both client and server-side can be declared as cacheable. Using this, the number of client-server interactions are reduced. Hence, improvement in performance.
  • The uniform interface makes it possible for others to work on them.

Apple HealthKit API

The Apple HealthKit API enables a business owner to add value to a fitness app that can be a source of health data. Furthermore, by making sense of the health data, a business owner can deliver an informed health and fitness solution to the end-user. The Apple HealthKit is designed in such a way that it respects the user’s privacy and offers a secure way to collect, store, and share health data.

 The Framework

The Apple HealthKit framework can be used for several sub-divided tasks. For example, the framework can enable a fitness tracker app to collect the health data after seeking the user’s permission, presenting the collected data in a visually pleasing way, and analyzing it. Finally, it offers advanced capabilities to bring the social element in the fitness app.

To leverage the Apple HealthKit framework in a meaningful way, it is recommended to include specific features in the fitness tracker app and start small. The framework enables the fitness tracker app to collect data from multiple sources. Hence, when a particular event like modification of data takes place, the framework can make the necessary changes outside the app.

Here are other important characteristics of Apple HealthKit framework:

  • Better Control

To enhance security in the fitness tracker app, the Apple HealthKit framework does not allow a developer to declare custom data types of units. In addition to enhanced security, this adds value to the app by maintaining consistency in different areas to synchronize the data with other apps in a harmonious way.

  • Optimization

The framework works exceptionally well within the Apple ecosystem. Apple iPhone and smartwatch work in sync when a fitness tracker app leverages this framework. This can further be explained by considering an example. As the Apple smartwatch has comparatively less memory space than the iPhone, the framework purges the old data on the watch to save the space.

  • Modularity

The HealthKit framework makes extensive use of user permissions. For security reasons, the user can modify (accept or deny) permissions for each data type. The framework works in such a way that when the user denies permission for a specific data type, the app will consider that denied data type does not exist instead of knowing that it has been denied the access.

  • Encryption

Encryption is one of the key highlights of the Apple product ecosystem. The same applies to the HealthKit framework as well. Due to the importance of health data, the information in the HealthKit store remains in encrypted form when the device is locked. For the fitness tracker app to function correctly, data can be written to the HealthKit store, which can be accessed by an authorized app.

Google Fit SDK

google_fitness_storeComponents of Google Fit Architecture (Source: Google Fit)

Google Fit software development kit (SDK) adds multiple capabilities in a fitness tracker application. It enables an app to read data from a wearable device or sensor, access information gathered by other apps, retain data even if a device is upgraded, and others.

The Google Fit platform is an open ecosystem made up of four components, such as fitness store, sensor framework, permission and user control, and APIs. While the first three are straightforward, the fourth component, APIs, can be further classified into seven sub-components. The seven different APIs in Google Fit are – sensors, recording, history, sessions, goals, low energy Bluetooth, and config.

Other APIs and Technologies for Fitness Tracker App

FitBit

FitBit: It offers four different APIs such as Device, Settings, Companion, and Web. Here is additional information on the capabilities of these four APIs.

Device API – Each device has different hardware components and the device API enables one to access them. For example, accelerometer can be leveraged and it’s behaviour can be tuned by changing properties or event handlers such as:

  • onactivate – What will happen when the sensor is activated?
  • onreading – Event that may take place when a new reading is available from the sensor.

Similarly, properties or event handlers can be modified for various components such as barometer, display, geolocation, gyroscope, power, and more.

  • Settings API – This application programming interface enables one to create an app that is highly configurable.
  • Companion API – To support the ecosystem of apps compatible with FitBit, companion API provides the capability to access such apps.
  • Web API – This API enables general management of different components as well as database.

Strava

Strava provides an open API that can be used to fetch information on data like athletes, segments, routes, clubs, and gear. Data on segments, routes, clubs, and gear can easily be accessed. To access data on athletes, one has to create an app and enable the athlete to sign in using Strava.

Furthermore, the API restricts access to the data with a default rate limited to 100 requests per 15 minutes. The maximum number of requests can be 1000.

Garmin

Garmin offers more options to extend the use of its hardware and apps. It offers an extensive list of APIs for health, training and more. To elaborate how these APIs add value, here is a brief overview.

Garmin Health API – This API enables one to add value by creating an app in the corporate wellness, population health, and remote patient monitoring space. The health API offers access to different data sources such as steps, sleep, calories, heart rate, stress, body composition, activating tracking, respiration, and menstrual cycle tracking. Furthermore, it can be used to create fitness tracking apps for different sports like running, cycling, swimming, snowboarding and more.

Garmin Training API – Fitness tracker applications can offer many features in addition to monitoring sports activities. For example, the training API can enable app owners to make use of workouts, training plans, and even courses.

How to Develop a Fitness Tracker App?

Prepare a Go to Market Strategy

The go to market (GTM) strategy enables fitness tracker, mobile application owners, to move forward swiftly and capture market share. The swiftness depends on how detailed the GTM strategy is and how many factors are considered while creating the same. To elaborate this, consider an example where a fitness tracker application owner faces difficult competition in the market.

To overcome competition in the market, the GTM strategy can be divided into four stages – market analysis, marketing selection, marketing mix, and customer acquisition. In the first stage, competition can be among the different areas that can be analyzed. Other areas can be customer needs, market dynamics, and others. To study the competition, different frameworks can be leveraged such as SWOT, Porter’s 5 Forces, simple comparison chart, and more.

Find Suitable Monetization Methods

Fitness trackers are just like other brands that deliver value through services and tools in their mobile applications. Common monetization methods can be leveraged in such applications. While there are many monetization methods, reliable and popular ones are few. Common monetization methods are – advertisements like banners, one-time membership fee plans, unlocking additional features by paying for them, and affiliate sales.

  • In advertisements, the basic requirement is to offer the fitness app for free and generate revenue by displaying ads.
  • In one-time membership fee plans, the owner generates revenue annually. This option is also applicable for the subscription model where income is generated monthly.
  • While the application can be offered for free but advanced features can be offered at an additional cost.
  • Last but not least, affiliates can enable the owner by selling products or services offered on the mobile app.

Application Development

To successfully create a mobile application, whether the idea belongs to health or fitness, the overall app development process remains the same. The journey to create a user-centric app starts from the requirement gathering phase. This phase is closely associated with initial research as well.

For example, before an app is developed, one should have an idea about back-end structure, programming logic, understanding of the flow, data storage strategy, and more. By following agile methodology, one can launch a prototype and observe the market reaction. Hence, testing is an equally important aspect of agile methodology as it adds perfection by removing the app.

Mobile App Testing

Mobile app testing is an essential stage which comes after the development phase. Depending on the methodology in use, the testing phase can be recurring as and when required. It can also be considered as a form of A/B testing that brings a positive impact. The improvement can be in any predefined form. A simple example can be improvements in key performance indicators (KPIs) like:

  • Monthly active users
  • Drop-offs
  • Retention rate, and more.

As there can be different project requirements with varying deliverables, mobile app testing can be both client or server-side. Few examples to elaborate how mobile app testing can be helpful are:

  • Example 1 – Testing can help optimize the in-app experience in many ways. The first case that we can consider is an eCommerce mobile app. Upon making payment for an item, a recommended products section can be shown to the buyer to improve upselling. In another case of health and fitness apps, different dashboards can be developed according to different stages the user is in.
  • Example 2 – Mobile app testing can enable marketers to deploy deep segmentation and to explain the same, consider this example – an online food ordering app that observes a maximum number of orders from the age group 40 – 45 year-olds. The marketing department can leverage this data and create new campaigns to attract more customers.

The traditional software development methodologies or models require the testing phase to be executed once. To maximize the output, one can also opt for continuous integration and continuous delivery.

Fitness App Launch

The Android or iOS apps can easily be deployed. The next challenging phase is mobile app marketing. In this phase, a marketer is responsible for conducting different activities such as market research, creation of user personas, competitor analysis, creation of landing pages or websites, social media promotion, and more.

Get Consultation that can Improve the Success of your Fitness Tracker App

 Conclusion

A fitness tracker app enhances the brand value for a company operating in the sports industry and reduces hospital readmission rates. There are many uses of such apps. However, while creating an app, an entrepreneur may face new challenges. In such a case, consultation can be sought from a quality-driven mobile app development company like FATbit Technologies.

Disclaimer: The Blog has been created with consideration and care. We strive to ensure that all information is as complete, correct, comprehensible, accurate and up-to-date as possible. Despite our continuing efforts, we cannot guarantee that the information made available is complete, correct, accurate or up-to-date. We advise - the readers should not take decisions completely based on the information and views shared by FATbit on its blog, readers should do their own research to further assure themselves before taking any commercial decision. The 3rd party trademarks, logos and screenshots of the websites and mobile applications are property of their respective owners, we are not directly associated with most of them.


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Guruji Softwares

Microsoft released a fitness tracker band a long time ago. It wasn’t a huge success. We believe a simple fitness tracker application could have done a better job.