I installed the Argus activity tracking app yesterday, and was surprised to discover that it was showing me my footstep data from the day I purchased my iPhone 5S.
The iPhone 5S has the M7 motion co-processor, which can track activity in the background. The way I expected this to work is that an application would ask for data and then go to sleep, and the M7 would track the data and hand it to the app when the app woke up.
What actually happens is that the activity is logged all the time, whether any app is asking for it or not. Essentially there’s a system store of activity data that apps can query.
This is a huge difference. For one thing, it means that, like my experience with Argus, any app can come along and present my activity data. You don’t have to pick one app to track your steps; you can use any app to view the step data. This is excellent.
And I think this creates some clear next steps for Apple. A logical addition to this system would be external hardware bits that can track activity separately from what the phone itself can measure.
This could be as simple as an iPod Shuffle with an M7 in it, that would sync that data to your iPhone. Go for a run with your iPod strapped to your arm and then let it sync the data to the activity store on the iPhone. Many people already run with an iPod of some sort, and this would mean one less device to strap on.
This can also extend to other activity tracking metrics, like heart rate, blood pressure, weight, calories consumed or whatever else. The fitness tracking arena is incredibly fragmented right now, with dozens of services attempting to sync with each other. It’s a real hassle, but also an area that’s growing like mad.
The iPhone would become your activity tracking hub