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  • Health Apps Get a Checkup: Report Rates iOS and Android Offerings in Fitness, Nutrition, More

    If the multitude of health and fitness apps were lumped together and assigned an overall letter grade based on quality ratings from their customers, they'd be pulling an uninspiring "D," according to a new analysis. But that doesn't mean there aren't some individual standouts among the nearly 8,000 apps and 4 million reviews included in the study.

    The review (free for download after sign-in), conducted by the ARC research group, began with thousands of apps, but focused closely on the 65 most popular Android and iOS app brands in 5 categories: fitness, medical, nutrition, stress relief, and women's health. Final ratings were based on app store feedback during 2015, and while the overall average was a fairly undazzling 66 out of 100, it's a number that obscures what ARC describes as some of the "amazing" satisfaction ratings of a few individual offerings.

    Here is ARC's list of the top 3 performers in each category:

    1. StrongLifts (muscle-building workouts) - average score: 88
    2. Sworkit Lite ("personalized video workouts") - average score: 84.5
    3. Sports Tracker (activity tracker) - average score: 80

    1. GoodRx (prescription drug pricing and information) - average score: 84.5
    2. iTriage (medical information, symptom-based information) - average score: 82.5
    3. iPharmacy (drug and pill identifier) - average score: 82.5

    1. Water Drink Reminder ("stay healthy and hydrated all day") - average score: 85
    2. Calorie Counter by MyFitnessPal: - average score: 83
    3. LoseIt! (weight loss app) - average score: 82.5

    Stress Relief
    1. Relax Melodies - average score: 88.5
    2. White Noise - average score: 83.5
    3. White Noise (free version) - average score: 82

    Women's Health
    1. Period Calendar/Tracker by Abishkking - average score: 94.5
    2. Period Tracker by GP Apps - average score: 88.5
    3. Period Tracker by SevenLogics - average score: 87

    Surprisingly, some of the biggest names in health and fitness apps were among those with "room to improve," according to the ARC report, with quality scores that averaged below 50. Those lower-rated apps included FitBit (49.5), Weight Watchers Mobile (47), Google Fit (37 – Android only app), and Garmin Connect Mobile (21).

    However, low-scoring apps aren't necessarily destined to stay that way, the report notes. One example: Jawbone's UP fitness tracker improved its 2015 average to 54, a 12.5 point gain over 2014's rating average. The report links the improvement to the inclusion of a "Smart Coach" feature and a new line of bands that are more durable and ergonomic.