Moves comes to Android, not afraid of Apple's M7

By Jonah Comstock
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Moves on Nexus 4Moves from ProtoGeo, the Finland-based passive activity tracker startup, released its Android version, demonstrating that the company intends to press on despite possible competition from Apple's new iPhone 5s and 5c.

"It's very exciting times for us because there's so many things going on in the activity tracking marketplace," CEO Sampo Karjalainen told MobiHealthNews. "Apple and Google are moving to support the use case. We're excited by all this news, but on the other hand they're somewhat limited."

As MobiHealthNews reported back in April, Moves is an all-day tracker that runs passively in the background of a user's phone. In order to provide all-day tracking without killing the phone's battery, ProtoGeo developed an algorithm that activates the GPS only intermittently in the background. Apple’s Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller announced last week that Apple's new devices will have a similar functionality built-in: they'll run sensors like the GPS and the accelerometer on a secondary processor (called the M7), allowing for a similar savings in battery life.

Karjalainen agreed with many startups' assessment that Apple is commoditizing passive tracking, but he still thinks Moves is ahead of the game.

"Tracking is first, but then the challenge is to really make sense of that data, and help [users] change their behavior, those are really important," he said. "And that's something we are working on with new features on top of that data. But the first step is to make activity tracking work really well. And we have the best technology at the moment."

He pointed out that, unlike Apple's devices, Moves can identify cycling as a separate movement. Also, Moves can run on existing iPhones, whereas to use Apple's new co-processor, consumers have to buy a new phone. In addition, Moves is already working on future iterations of its software that will use the M7 coprocessor.

As of the recent news, Moves can also run on Android devices running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher. At launch, the Android version will be very similar to the existing iOS software, but it won't be able to connect with other diary and data visualization apps like the Apple version can. Moves opened its API to third party developers in June, and now sports a catalogue of 20 connected apps.

Karjalainen said an iOS7 version of Moves is coming in the next two weeks. A Windows Phone version of the software is unlikely, he said, because Windows 8 isn't capable of running the accelerometer in the background. According to ProtoGeo, Moves has been downloaded 2.5 million times since its launch and tracks 2 billion steps every day around the world.