John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Samsung S.Health Android app review

My S4 came with an app called S.Health. It is an interesting app. The idea of it is that you can enter your weight, food intake, exercise and be able track your health towards whatever your goals are. I haven’t used the food side of it so won’t comment on that, but have played with the fitness tracking side of it and that’s what I will cover off here. Up front I will tell you there is not one of these apps that is all encompassing. One does this better, another does that better etc. It’s kind of frustrating to be honest. I can kind of understand how some people get fed up with it and just go with a Fitbit or the like. I recently reviewed the Garmin VivoFit and was underwhelmed.

From a fitness tracker point of view S.Health has two modes. Walking mate and Excercise mate. If you use a different app there is a way to manually enter workouts from Samsung’s canned workout types, or you can add your own workout types. You simply tell it the number of calories burned per 30 mins and then name your custom workout type. Once you’ve created your own custom workout type you can use it any time to enter workouts done not tracked by S.Health by entering the date/time and length of the workout. It would have been more flexible if it had let you enter directly the length of time of the workout and calories rather than have to futz about but that’s nit picking. Any data entered into this app while backed up to the Samsung cloud are not exportable and there is no portal to view the data off the device. A pretty big gap if you are going to commit the time to using this app. From a social media point of view you can share your progress in many ways but it is only shared as an image. There is no heart rate only mode (GPS off).

Walking mate is a neat app that on it’s own is well done. It is basically a pedometer. And a reasonably accurate one. Even the calorie count seems believable and unlike the Vivofit does not include baseline calories (calories your body consumes just to exist, which in my mind is a way to inflate numbers to make people feel better). It even tries to differentiate between walking, running and doing stairs (not sure what algorithm is used for this given the GPS is off in this mode). Which by the way, since the GPS is off you can run this app all the time in the background. You can set goals for how many steps and when you reach the goal you are informed by a notification and given a badge. There are no settings for reminding you to get up and move during a day or other things that might encourage you to exercise more.
There’s even stats for how you have done in the past. There’s one flaw, they do not allow you to use the heart rate monitor in Walking made mode but do in exercise mode. An odd choice. One thing you will want to do is insure you turn this off (pause it) for other sports like cycling, skiing, snowboarding etc otherwise it will record some random vibrations as steps.

Exercise mate uses the GPS to more accurately track your distance etc. You can choose your sport. It allows you to connect an ANT heart rate monitor. The heart rate is not displayed anywhere so I am not sure what it is doing with it. And the minute you start an exercise mate session the walking mate session is paused. Not a bad choice. The app provides no map of the excercise (like most do).

Here’s a comparison of a similar walk with and without the heart rate monitor. As you can see having the heart rate monitor increased the calorie count which would seem to imply it is using it to calculate calories.
Screenshot_2014-06-04-16-00-01Screenshot_2014-06-06-13-26-37 (1)

So as a comprehensive all in one app it missed the mark IMHO, but as a pedometer app it’s pretty good! And free on a number of Samsung devices.

I did discover something very interesting doing this post. It seems Android has implemented the ability for more than one app to use the GPS at the same time! That’s excellent I had no idea. This means you can run more than one of these activity tracking apps for the same event! Cool! In a geeky kinda way 🙂


June 5, 2014 - Posted by | Android

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