Ever since I got the iPhone I knew that I would have to get some sort of diet and fitness tracking software. I have been using VidaOne’s MyPersonalDiet (MPD) for Windows Mobile PocketPC for more than two years. It is a great piece of software and it does pretty much everything I could ever want and then some (lots more). MPD is currently at version 3.2.0 so the folks at VidaOne have been working on this app for quite some time and they update it every 3-6 months.
When I got the iPhone and the App store opened I waited for the Diet & Fitness apps to begin showing up. Several showed up but since the App store does not allow demo versions I could not decide which app to get. I began to wait for the reviews to show up so I could use them to weed out the features that I needed… custom food entry is the #1 feature that the app has to have. Most of my diet consists of items that would not be on any diet database that any app has or could even think of having.
As the reviews of the several apps began to show up I found that Aqua Eagle’s Absolute Fitness was going to be the app I was going to get. There was a custom food entry feature and from several of the reviews, the built-in food database was very good.
At $15 ($14.99 to exact) Absolute Fitness is $10 less than MPD so I was a little reluctant to pony up the funds for a version 1.0 application. So as the saying goes, I took one for the team and bought the application with the sole intention of reviewing and hoping that it would be able to do most of the things that I have to have in MPD.
So, what is it exactly that I need from this app? Like I said, custom food entry. Check. The ability to keep track of my protein/fat/carb ratios. The Absolute Fitness screen shots seem show this. Check. And most important, the ability to keep track of all my daily totals and be able to chart my progress. Once again, the screen shots seem to show this. Check, check.
After I bought and installed Absolute Fitness I launched it and after entering my stats (gender, weight, goals and nutritional goals) I was given the option to watch the video tutorial. Good thing I did. It explained a few things that I would have never figured out if I had not watched it. Nothing major but since the GUI implementation is different from Windows Mobile to the iPhone it sure helped out.
I also read the user’s guide that is also included in the “More” tab and there is also a few tidbits that will help you navigate the app with ease.
So let’s get to it. How does this version 1.0 application stand up to MPD that is on version 3+ and has been around for several years? Pretty well I have to admit. For the features that Absolute Fitness has, it holds up its own weight.
The “Add Food” menu (below) looks better than any other app I have seen. The nutritional facts label gives it a real nice touch.
The food/exercise categories and selection menu (below) is very thorough and although I could not search for every single imaginable thing, some of my favorites were included by brands or restaurant. There were a few I didn’t find but those are hard to find in the first place so custom food entry will help with those.
I do wish there was a way to enter weight training by set/reps/weight but 99% of apps don’t have that either so I was not disappointed not to see it.
There are a lot of features that are missing in comparison to MPD but it would be totally unfair to do a head-to-head shoot-out.
So instead I will address some of Absolute Fitness’ shortcomings and hopefully give the developers a heads up on what few features, if added, would make this application absolutely “kick-ass” in the early stages.
The number one thing I noticed was the fact that the daily diary (below) is divided into three sections (Morning, Afternoon, Evening). This would be fine by itself if you could further group meals into smaller sub-sections. Anyone who is trying to lose or gain weight, or is seriously interested in fitness knows is that you have to eat 5-6 times a day. Having the day divided into only three (3) sections is very counter productive. The application does allow you to enter the time of each meal but it is not use in any way other than to place them in the described sections. There is no way to group each meal by their time.
Instead of grouping the diary into Morning, Afternoon, and Evening, change the grouping to the time of the meal was eaten. MPD does this very well (below) and it should not be too difficult to implement in Absolute Fitness.
Another thing that I noticed is that there is no way to do macro ratios for each individual meal. Most people on a strict nutritional plan will tell you that they live and die by their macros. They need to know the exact percentages for each meal. Some people follow a strict 40/40/20 macro (40% carbs/proteins and 20% fats). Others that follow a low carb diet also need to know the exact ratios of each meal so they can keep their system in ketosis.
Here is a simple example (above) of how MPD keeps track of each meal’s ratio (macros) at the top of the grouping window (look at the top right corner showing 5% carbs, 44% protein, and 50% fats). Once again, people live and die by those numbers with each and every meal.
I then noticed that the “Stats” menu (above) shows you a percentage of your daily totals and not your overall totals. This means that if you set a goal of 139G of fat for the day and you have consumed 45grams it gives you the 32% of that total goal. There should be an additional stats window that gives you the overall percentage of your macros.
In other words, not only do you need to keep a per meal macro indicator but you also need a daily macro scale to make sure you are keeping within your plans specific goals. Here is how MPD handles daily and weekly macros (below).
Another thing I noticed right away is the weight graph goes from 0-200lbs on every single time-scale option. This is fine when you are looking at 3-month, 6-month, or even 1-year graphs but when you are looking at the 7-day (1-week) graph (below) it is pretty much flat unless you have a huge weight change (which most people would not have in a healthy nutritional plan). Having the chart change from a 200lb range in the greater time span (3-months or greater), the 1-week and 1 month graphs should be change to only show a 10-20lbs range at the most.
Once again, here is an example of a 7-day range graph on MPD.
I could be picky and ask for a specific date range be added to the graph function but that is not really needed at this early stage.
Other than these few items that could easily be added in coming versions, Absolute Fitness is a great version 1.0 application that holds a lot of promise if Aqua Eagle continues to improve it. Is it worth the $15 I paid for it? Right now, for me, it’s not quite ready for everyday use in a strict nutritional regime.
I am not sure if VidaOne will develop (or port) an application similar to MPD for the iPhone but if they did it will be due to their extensive experience in the Windows Mobile version. So Aqua Eagle is in a good position to take the crown away from VidaOne by adding extensive features to Absolute Fitness and by the time VidaOne does develop MPD for the iPhone no one will care.