Fitness and Health App Downloads Are On the Rise

If you have been following my stuff or just know tech you are already aware mobile app usage in skyrocketing. Health related apps make up a significant portion of this growth and are becoming more and more popular among Smartphone users in both developed and developing economies. For example, fifty-two percent of all adults with a Smartphone now use mobile health apps more than they had in previous years. Wakefield Research released these statistics on mobile health apps after conducting a survey involving one thousand adults in the United States. Citrix commissioned this survey. Here are more highlights about mobile health apps:

Increase in Popularity of Fitness Apps

It seems as though staying fit is a key concern of the average Smartphone user. Fitness apps are generating a greater network load than other kinds of mobile health apps. This higher generation of network load stems from the fact that fitness apps involve periodic updates in reference to the status of the user as well as continuous tracking of activity. For instance, even a casual jogger that logs 12 miles a week (four 30 minute sessions) is creating an immense amount of data. The increase in popularity of wearable fitness devices is likely to increase the network load already occupied by fitness apps. These wearable devices include brands such as FitBit, Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch, Pebble and Nike+. 

Traffic Data from ByteMobile

Citrix, the firm that commissioned the survey, also revealed mobile traffic data from the subscribers of ByteMobile. This data clearly shows that apps for weight loss and fitness were the most popular apps downloaded by ByteMobile subscribers. More specifically, statistics showed that users of fitness apps accounted for more than fifty percent of all ByteMobile subscribers. This is an increase of over eleven percent from the previous year. Apps on pregnancy and fertility were also popular

The Top Ten Mobile Health Apps

Top 10 Health Apps 2014

The study also included a list of the top ten most popular health apps (based on a  compilation of the overall number of network-connected subscribers each app had). Runtastic was the number one health app with more than twenty-five percent of all ByteMobile subscribers have this app on their Smartphone. MyFitnessPal came in second place closely followed by RunKeeper. More than thirty percent of all subscribers to ByteMobile used either MyFitnessPal or RunKeeper. Weight Watchers was the fourth most popular mobile health app, followed by Nike+ and then MapMyRun. Pregnancy and Period Diary came in at seventh and eighth place respectively. Lose It! was in ninth place and finally, Baby Bump was the tenth most popular mobile health app according to this particular study.

Wearables, Ethics, and the bizarre case of Sarah Slocum and Google Glass

It was inevitable that a controversial story about Google Glass and/or other wearable would eventually surface. Wearable technology has been raising privacy concerns ever since Google started slowly rolling out the devices to consumers. But thanks to “social media consultant” Sarah Slocum, we now have an example of what happens when people abuse wearables to stir up trouble.

Wearables and Ethics

Slocum has become a infamous name in tech circles after claiming she was attacked in a San Francisco bar just for wearing the device. According to documents filed in court, Slocum said patrons of the bar began to shout insults and obscenities just because she was wearing Google Glass, which is a head-mounted mobile device equipped with a camera.

Slocum claimed that patrons were accusing her of recording them with the camera. While Slocum argued that their anger was unfounded, she later released video to her YouTube channel, proving that she did ultimately choose to record–and then publish–video of the encounter.

Unfortunately for Slocum, her own evidence appears to incriminate her more than she might like. While there is video proof of a towel being thrown in her direction, Slocum is not merely suffering the unprompted assails of other bar-goers. She is actively video-taping them even as they put their hands over their faces and turn away from her camera. At one point, she raising her middle finger to a woman, curses at her and says she wants “to get this white trash on tape for as long as I can.”

Slocum’s experience raises a number of ethics questions regarding the use of wearable technology. But while some critics of wearables will use this experience to highlight the adverse effects that wearable technology can have, it’s important to consider Slocum’s reputation. The consultant has a track record of instigating conflicts and attempting to stir up trouble. As reported in the DailyMail, Slocum’s former neighbors had filed a restraining order against the woman in 2012. That comes one year after Slocum’s mother filed a restraining order against her, citing domestic violence.

Two former acquaintances of Slocum’s also said she had secretly recorded a conversation at their home. That’s the kind of privacy infringement that doesn’t require Google Glass to execute, and it discredits Slocum as a figure in the ethics debate concerning wearables. Slocum appears to be little more than a meddling agitator that simply wanted to stir up controversy and get attention. Google Glass could have been interchanged with any other device or object used to invade another person’s privacy.

A few bad seeds will always attempt to make a mess of certain privileges, but those individuals can’t be allowed to influence the ethics debate that concern the larger, responsible majority.