Travel & Leisure

The Fitness App That Fell Flat

By Lola Augustine Brown

A new calorie-counting feature of Google Maps appeared suddenly on some users’ iPhones last week—and within 24 hours was gone.

When users tapped the screen to get directions, Google Maps not only told them how many calories they’d burn by walking instead of driving to their destination—it also represented those calories as pink mini-cupcakes: walk this many miles, burn this many cupcakes.

Outraged users quickly took to social media. Many found the messaging patronizing and insensitive, as well as annoying. And the function wasn’t merely an option: it couldn’t be turned off. There was also concern from doctors and those associated with eating-disorder recovery programs that the cupcake calorie-counter could be harmful to users with such disorders. Google quickly announced that the feature was being removed, citing “strong user feedback.” Oops.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with being mindful of your diet, and there are many other apps that will count calories for you—if that’s what you want them to do.

Photo: iStock/vgajic.