Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, even those who previously didn’t care are now engaged in some basic wellbeing activities. The downside is that gyms are off-limits, but mobile fitness apps successfully come to the rescue and steal the spotlight.
As reported by Statista, the digital fitness apps’ revenue reached almost $18 million in 2020 and is projected to reach $21 million in 2021. The fitness apps’ market grows, and thanks to various trends and features that emerge, it is expected to expand further.
Our previous article discussed what it takes to build an MVP for a fitness app and where to start. In this article, we will check the actual fitness trends and how you can create a relevant user-friendly app. We will cover three top fitness app development trends — wearables, artificial intelligence (AI), and virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). To learn how to create a fitness app and generate revenue from it, check our previous article.
Wearables in Fitness Industry
It is high time to integrate fitness apps with wearables. According to Statista, the number of wearables has more than doubled, going from 325 million in 2016 to 722 million in 2019. Furthermore, they forecast the number of devices to reach over one billion by 2022.
Since the moment smartwatches and trackers entered our lives, their role has changed from fancy digital trinkets to everyday helpers and even lifesavers. It is hard to find people who would feel comfortable holding their phones while exercising. Wearable fitness technology (WFT) saves the day and tracks various physical activities. Steps, distances and calories are counted and sent directly to your phone without causing conflicts with your fitness activities.
Wearables integration makes fitness apps more appealing to customers because wearables encourage users to be healthier, faster, stronger. Wearables track users’ goals and progress, psychologically encouraging them to walk more steps than yesterday; to run faster than yesterday; to sustain that peak heart rate for just a little longer for that intense interval training.
Besides, after wearables synchronize the activity with the app, it is possible to share users’ achievements on social media; thus, there is even more motivation.
Therefore, deciding whether the app should be compatible with wearables during fitness app development is essential. The more, the merrier, but for MVP compatibility with some most popular solutions, it may be enough (e.g., Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch, Fitbit Sense, Versa, etc).
Here, you can see a couple of apps integrated with wearables that reap the benefits of such a tie-up:
- Google Fit is the simplest of all fitness apps there is. Google Fit tracks two key metrics — pulse and daily activity (basically, it is represented by the steps counter that can monitor such activities as bicycle rides or baseball). Another excellent feature of Google Fit is the possibility to synchronize it with other fitness apps, e.g., NikeRunClub.
- Polar Beat. Like Google Fit, Polar Beat allows users to track their physical activities, including rowing and mountain climbing and set their activity goals. The app also has a 5-minute Fitness Test and Running Index that helps users test themselves and follow their progress.
AI in the Fitness Industry
According to the Research And Markets report, they expect the global AI market to grow more than twice in just a couple of years. Hence, AI permeates into various industries, including fitness. Namely, AI in the fitness industry can empower fitness apps and significantly improve engagement, leading to a potential increase in revenue.
The rise of AI and its branches, including natural language processing, computer vision, and machine learning, modernizes fitness. AI has been incorporated into gadgets, wearables, and mobile apps to make them more intelligent and helpful to users if they want to stay fit and healthy.
Here are some benefits AI features can bring into a fitness app:
- Personalize workouts by predicting what exercises users want or can do. For instance, AI can detect weak points and leverage the ability of users to reshape their habits.
- Customize workouts based on available equipment.
- Detect and analyze human posture as it is in human pose estimation technology, which opens up the possibility to create a virtual coach.
The most significant benefit of an AI-driven coach is that it has more data, analyzes and tracks progress more precisely, and knows all exercises. Yet, human coaches use more psychology in their approach and can help with more specific problems, e.g., old injuries.
Here are a couple of apps that already leverage the AI processes:
- Presence Fit. The app provides live workouts conducted by a coach. It is enabled via an AI tracker that works right from a smartphone. The coach can follow a user’s workout through the front camera, providing tips and support, while AI tracks the user’s progress and vitals. It is like having a personalized gym in your pocket.
- Vi Trainer. Many people find running boring or too hard. Vi Trainer app was created to change it. Essentially, it is an AI-based virtual running coach that provides users with a personalized training plan that tracks and improves it throughout a user’s workout. All this combined work serves as a great motivator to go outside and run.
VR and AR in the Fitness Industry
Augmented reality (AR) neatly weaves digital content into a person’s actual environment, including the health and fitness spheres of life. Based on the report by Grand View Research, the AR industry’s size reached almost 18 billion dollars in 2020 and is projected to grow.
Although the advantages of using VR in the fitness industry seem more alluring than AR, AR is predicted to have a more significant impact on the market and our daily lives than virtual reality. VR demands a user’s full attention; thus, AR offers more suitable options for integration into everyday activities.
The benefits of utilizing VR and AR in the fitness industry include, but are not limited to:
- Increase user engagement. VR/AR provides additional value to fitness apps, giving users more reasons to keep going.
- Broaden the audience. Using such innovative technology as VR and AR helps improve brand visibility and attracts the audience’s attention, provided you have a well-planned marketing strategy.
- New revenue streams. As the value of apps using VR or AR increases, it is possible to charge more for it while choosing any ricing model you like.
AR helps users to be more confident, comfortable, and safe during workouts and improve their results. Consequently, they are more likely to stick around for longer and use the app.
Examples of fitness apps that already implemented VR or AR:
- Zombies, Run! Built around AR, it is a fitness app for running with many features typically found in games: spooky storyline, tasks, loot, achievements, etc.
- Supernatural. It’s a purpose-built workout app, not a rhythm game that just gives users an energetic workout as a byproduct. It has human coaches, new workouts every day, Supernatural licenses, and popular music.
Leveraging Technology Trends in Fitness Industry
People now use smartphones to support many daily routines, including healthcare, fitness, and wellbeing. As you can see, the fitness app market size is growing fast, and with so many apps on the market, sometimes consumers feel confused about choosing this app over the other one. For new players, it means being discoverable, providing a great user experience and some special extras in an app so that they can be distinguished from their competitors.
Today is the right time to choose your unique feature that will maximize the effectiveness of your fitness app and add to the brand visibility. You have wearable fitness technology, AI, VR, and AR to choose from.
The business prospects for fitness app development look exciting, and so does the future of the fitness app market. Are you planning a game-changing fitness app? Do you need to implement some trendy features in your existing app? Contact Onix! Our experts will help you build a perfect product that will benefit your users and your business.