If you’ve considered buying a hundred-dollar (or more) fitness tracker but aren’t entirely sold on the concept, the Argus iPhone app (free) lets you play around with reaching the same end without spending any money upfront. Argus can count your steps all day long, map your runs, track your sleep, and help you keep an eye on what you’re eating, too. It includes features for charting your weight over time, as well as keeping tabs on how much water and coffee you consume—all similar to what you’ll find in the apps that go with Fitbit One, Jawbone UP, or any other popular activity tracker. And heck, if you like Argus, you can continue using it with a couple of supported devices.
Argus is nowhere near as convenient as one of those more expensive fitness trackers, primarily because Argus runs your iPhone’s GPS in the background all day long, which obliterates the battery, but it offers a totally commitment-free way to dabble in self quantification.
Argus in Action
If you download the Argus app and set up a free account, you’re nearly ready to roll with it. The app will ask for some basic information about your body, such as your date of birth (to calculate age), sex, and height. Metric and Imperial units of measure are both supported. Note that you do have to enable Location Services for the app to work, which the app will prompt you to do during setup.
Once properly installed, the app will automatically count how many steps you take in a day and measure the total in miles (or kilometers if you prefer). If you run, the app detects the faster movement and will provide additional details about your run, such as a map of the route you took, similar to MapMyRun and Runtastic PRO. Those more specific runners’ apps provide a lot more detail and insight into your workout, but Argus covers the basics.
A honeycomb display is one of the signature features in the app’s look and feel. As you use Argus to measure different aspects of your health, it populates a new section of a honeycomb with that data (see the slideshow). For example, one honeycomb cell displays the number of steps you’ve taken since this morning, while another shows total miles traveled. Yet another cell shows the weather report for that day (helpful so you can see in your history if you were less active than usual due to bad weather). The design reminds me a little of the app that comes included with the Larklife, which is by far the most interesting aspect of that mediocre gadget.
When you tap once on a cell, the app gives you more details about that cell’s information, such as a chart or graph of your activity. Tap and hold any cell, and all similar cells cobble together so you can easily compare the data from previous days, too.
Logging your weight in Argus can be manual or automatic, if you connect the app to a supported smart scale, such as Withings Smart Body Analyzer(WS-50). Argus is also compatible with two wrist-worn fitness trackers, LifeTrak and New Balance Life TRNr+, so you can continue to use the app even if you decide to buy a full-on activity-tracking device.
Calorie-counting in the app fell far short of my expectations. You can snap photos of meals, which save to your account and appear among the honeycomb display, but you can’t actually log the specific foods you eat to add up the calories in an entire meal or over the course of the day. On the other hand, the app does estimate calories expended based on your activity, which makes the lack of calorie intake feature even more perplexing. If this app can’t offer full calorie-counting, I wish it at least could connect to a better app for the job, such as MyFitnessPal, our Editors’ Choice, or Lose It!
You can use the app to track a whole lot more personal metrics, including sleep, water consumption, heart rate, and fitness goals—and that’s all well and good except for the one big drag for the app overall. The GPS necessarily runs in the background all day long, which totally kills the iPhone’s battery. The first day I used Argus, my phone warned me of dwindling battery life before sunset. The app’s a lot of fun to use, but you’d better keep an iPhone charger with you if you plan to really use it.
Argus Fitness Aggregator
Except for the fact that Argus takes a serious toll on your iPhone’s battery, it offers a wonderful entry-level experience into the world of fitness tracking and general health self-quantification. I do recommend it to anyone who is not yet sure whether they want to spend $100 or more on a fitness-tracking device. Argus lets you get the feel for the process and gives decent insight into your patterns, but a full-fledged gadget definitely improves the process ten-fold.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc