Walking is great for your health, and when you throw a step counter into the mix, it can also be fun and motivational. And if you don’t have a dedicated fitness tracker or smartwatch, don’t fret—we found seven great step counter apps you can just use on your smartphone.
These apps are all easy to use and don’t require you to own any separate hardware in order to work, though some are compatible with fitness trackers and other fitness apps. These apps are easy to use and aimed at anyone looking to exercise, not just serious athletes. So let’s dive in and take a look at each.
Simply put, these apps rely on your smartphone’s motion-detection sensors and GPS. With their help, the app can record the number of steps you take. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to be carrying your phone– either in your hand, your pocket, or your backpack– for your steps to get logged.
At their core, step counter apps all aim to do the same thing: count your steps as you move around each day. Not all step counting apps are created equal, however, so keep these critical factors in mind before you select an app:
- Easy to Use: These apps are meant to be intuitive and easy to use so that you can keep track of your steps without fuss. Good step counter apps also allow you to adjust step counter sensitivity based on your individual stride. We favor apps that don’t have any ads (or at least limit them to small, infrequent, and unintrusive ads) and that offer plenty of basic features for you to enjoy without requiring you to pay a fee or subscription cost to access them.
- Data History: Tracking your daily steps is one thing, but if you might occasionally want to look back and see your past progress, make sure you choose an app that saves all of your tracked metrics, from daily steps to things like calories burned.
- Cost: There are plenty of free options out there, and we don’t recommend paying for one of these apps unless you also want access to the artillery of other features that tend to get lumped into larger fitness apps. Some apps also lock features behind either an upfront fee or a pricy monthly subscription, so be sure to check the fine print before you get started.
- Community: One of the best things about walking (or any form of exercise) is that you can enjoy it socially. As such, the app you choose should make it easy to connect with other users—be it through group challenges and events, forums, or the ability to add and follow friends. The social aspect of any fitness app is often the key to staying motivated and even finding new friends along the way who share your interests.
- Battery Usage: Because these apps need to count your steps all day, it means they’ll need to run in the background all the time. As such, you’ll want to make sure you select an app that won’t drain your battery super fast so that you have some juice left for everything else you do on your smartphone.
- Compatibility: If you’re just looking for a basic step counter app, this isn’t a big deal. However, if you want to sync the app up with another app or a physical fitness tracker, you’ll definitely want to verify that the app you choose does, in fact, work with anything else you want to connect it with.
- Extras: While each of these apps does the same thing (count your steps), they’ll also have unique extras that can make or break it overall. If you care about extras, then take a few extra minutes to see what other features an app offers before you download it. These can include goal setting, additional metric tracking, community events, workout classes, or even colorful app themes.
Pacer (Free, with in-app purchases) is an easy pick for best overall. It packs a reliable step counter with additional health-tracking features and wide compatibility with other fitness devices and apps like Apple Health, Fitbit, and MyFitnessPal. The app automatically keeps track of your steps, plus it allows you to adjust the step counter sensitivity for better accuracy.
Beyond counting your daily steps, Pacer offers a suite of other great features that make it a well-rounded fitness app. It can track your weight, BMI, calorie intake, activity history, blood pressure, workouts, and more. You can also create plans and goals, create walking groups with friends, and enjoy many other thoughtful features.
If you’re looking for even more features beyond that, upgrading to Pacer Premium ($9.99 per month) is worth considering. It unlocks additional health-focused tools, like a weight loss coaching program, scientifically-designed guided workouts, and advanced data reports and insights. It’s a nice extra touch for the fitness-minded, and the subscription doesn’t prevent you from accessing any of the standard features.
If you own a Pixel smartphone or are just a general Google enthusiast, you’ll find something to like in Google Fit (Free). As you’d expect, it counts daily steps but takes things a step further by listing out how many steps you can net on your commute home or your lunch-time run. It is a convenient and thoughtful extra that’ll help you hit your daily step goals more easily.
Of course, the app can also track other fitness stats, like your heart rate, speed, pace, and routes whether you walk, run, or bike. Google Fit also collaborated with the World Health Organization and the American Heart Association to create a feature called Heart Points, an activity goal aimed at helping you more easily improve your health. You’ll earn a Heart Point for each minute of moderate activity you do each day and double points for intense activity.
The app lets you set and monitor goals as well as see a snapshot of your activity at a glance (as well as a more extensive history if you dig in). Google Fit has fantastic compatibility with other apps and devices, such as Strava, Lifesum, Runkeeper, MyFitnessPal, Headspace, Nike+, Sleep as Android, Withings, Xiaomi Mi bands, and more.
Use a Samsung device? Stay in the ecosystem and use Samsung Health (Free), though you don’t need a Samsung phone to download the app. With it, you can track your steps and enjoy other advanced health features, like analyses of your exercise history and tracking for a wide variety of metrics, from water consumption and weight to sleep quality and caloric intake.
Samsung Health also makes it easy to view stats like your active time and even compare how you’re doing compared to your friends who are also using the app. And as a bonus, since it’s made by a company that just happens to also make smartphones, it’s optimized so you won’t have to worry about it draining your battery while it runs.
If you’re an Apple fan using an iPhone or Apple Watch, the Apple Health (Free) is a great choice. Like the other OS-specific apps we’ve included in this article, it does a solid job tracking your steps as well as a ton of other metrics, including things like how long you spent standing each day and your heart rate, nutrition, and sleep.
Apple Health also offers tons of helpful interactive charts that make it easy to review your health data. It gives you highlights on your most important stats, points out trends from your data so you can more easily understand each metric it tracks instead of just having a mountain of data you might not totally understand. It’s only available on iOS devices, which is a bummer, but it’s a nice choice for those in that ecosystem.
Fitbit is a huge name in the world of fitness, so it’s no surprise that the company also has a solid health and fitness app (Free with in-app purchases). You don’t need a Fitbit wearable to download and use it, but pairing both together will obviously net you even more benefits. The app is a great choice for keeping track of your steps each day and makes it easy to plan and track future workouts, review past workouts, and join the Fitbit community.
Of course, Fitbit also tracks your heart rate, sleep, weight, water intake, and other metrics, so it’s also a great app choice if you’re looking for an all-in-one option for your general fitness. And as a nice bonus, Fitbit also throws in tools for stress management, nutrition, and working out at home. You can also spring for Fitbit Premium (starts at $9.99 per month), which grants you access to extra things like audio and video workouts, habit-forming programs, and advanced health insights.
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or serious. Throw some fun challenges into the mix with Zombies, Run! (Free). The app gamifies your daily walks by adding the (virtual) threat of zombies chasing you and getting in your (virtual) path along with over 200 action-packed missions to complete. The app works both on treadmills and outside as you walk around your neighborhood or a park.
As you walk, you can hop into the app and customize the specific distance or duration you’re hoping to achieve. You can even listen to music from a different app while still running (or walking) through the game’s single-player campaign. It’s a great way to get a little extra motivation on those days you’re struggling to get up off the couch.
And yes, the app can track how many steps you take. The catch, however, is that it can only track steps while you’re in one of its workouts. So if you want all-day tracking, you’ll need to sync your workout data with a separate compatible app or device, like Apple Watch, compatible Wear OS devices, or RunKeeper. It’s a little bit of a hassle, but a ton of fun overall for anyone looking to spice up their daily walks and runs.
If you need an even better reason to get up and go for a walk (besides avoiding those pesky zombies, of course), perhaps a charitable cause is good enough motivation. With Charity Miles (Free), you can earn money for your favorite charities—like Habitat for Humanity, Stand Up to Cancer, Feeding America, Autism Speaks, and more—every time you walk, run, or bike, whether it’s daily exercise or a giant marathon. Talk about a feel-good experience!
The app keeps track of your steps and how much money you’ve earned so far. In it, you can easily adjust your miles goal and see both your average pledge amount and the number of pledges you’ve gained. And don’t worry, if you use other fitness apps and devices—like Strava or Fitbit—you can sync any steps you’ve walked with them here, too.
You can easily share your Charity Miles efforts on social media, too, making it easier for your friends and followers to sponsor you, and the more you earn, the more chances you’ll have to win awesome select prizes from the app’s sponsors.