We updated this guide in November 2021 to ensure all step counter apps vetted by the Wellness Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute are available and correctly priced. We also added more apps, including Sweat and WW, plus highlights about why we love each app and things to consider before you download.
Keeping track of your physical activity can be hard without a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or other workout tracking device — especially for people who walk as their main form of exercise. The easiest solution is to download a step counter app, most of which work by using the built-in GPS on your cell phone.
That's what the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute found when they surveyed dozens of the latest step counter apps, as part of their continued coverage of fitness-related products, from treadmills to training shoes. “If you’re looking to track your activity, these inexpensive, if not free, apps are a great way to get started,” says Rachel Rothman, chief technologist at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “Then if you really get into it, you could make the investment in a smartwatch or other wearable fitness tracker, which will likely offer more health-related metrics, like a heart rate monitor and sleep tracking.”
Step counter apps work as pedometers, and are perfect for any fitness level, whether you're walking to lose weight or just trying to get to 10,000 steps a day. It's important to keep in mind that these pedometer apps aren't always as accurate as wearable fitness bands, and they can't monitor heart rate. While many of these apps are free to download, most of them offer some kind of premium version or subscription with added features.
These are the best step counter apps and pedometer apps to download on the App Store or Google Play in 2021:
With an impressive 4.9 star rating in the App Store, Pacer pedometer is an activity tracker, step counter, and more all in one app. Even though the free version works as a pedometer, upgrading to the premium version gets you so many more insights on your progress — like how your activity stacks up against that of other users.
Charity Miles lets you donate money to the charity of your choice based on how much you walk, run, or even bike. The free step counter app syncs steps with your phone's Health Kit or Strava, an app for running and cycling. Some of the charities you can donate to are the ASPCA, Habitat for Humanity, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and She's the First, to name a few.
Sweat is another comprehensive fitness app with a step counter baked into its platform. It’s designed for women, by women — it was co-founded by Kayla Itsines, the Australian fitfluencer whose 13+ million Instagram followers also know her as the creator of Bikini Body Guides. Our consumer testers had mostly good things to say about Sweat; one noted that the app “is more comprehensive and allows for a wider ranger of approaches.” The step counter itself is on par with others we tested, though if you’re going to fork over $10 a month for Sweat, you’ll also want to step up to some of its other content, which ranges from pilates to post-pregnancy workouts.
Get it for iOS or Android.
This is one of the best step counter apps for Android because it was developed directly by Google in a collaboration with the American Heart Association. It tracks way more than just steps: it monitors all of your physical activity and lets you set fitness goals by working with the other health apps you have on your phone already.
WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) isn’t just about counting calories anymore. The program has embraced a more holistic approach to weight management and overall health. Activity tracking is a big part of that, hence the app’s built-in step counter. Through the new PersonalPoints program, members earn rewards for hitting activity targets, whether it’s reaching 10,000 steps in a day or taking one of the virtual HIIT classes that come with the $10 monthly membership. “We like that the WW app is focusing more on activity, since it has so many benefits beyond weight control, from mood to energy to sleep,” says Amy Fischer, a registered dietician based in New York City.
My Fitness Pal
MyFitnessPal is often considered one of the best calorie counting apps, but not many people know that it also has a step tracking feature. The app can use the motion detection sensors in your phone or an external device, like a Fitbit for example. If you also use it to track your food intake, your daily calorie bank will adjust appropriately depending on how many daily steps you log. There's also the option to customize your step goals so you stay motivated and on track for weight loss.
Map my walk
Similar to the popular running app (both are from Under Armour!), MapMyWalk tracks your workout and displays your route on a map. While you're working out, it shows you all kinds of stats that track your performance, including distance and step count. Something to keep in mind: Since it uses your phone's GPS tracking feature, you might notice your battery life declining if you keep the app running in the background.
StepApps has a sleek interface that you can customize to one of six fun colors. On iPhones, you can swipe on your home and lock screen to view the app's widget — it conveniently shows you how many steps you've logged at a glance. Plus, people who use wheelchairs can use this step counter app as long as they have an Apple Watch.
What really sets this pedometer app apart from the rest is the ability to toggle between different views. You can track your steps and activity in a bar graph by day, week, and month — even down to the hour. If you upgrade to the pro version, you can import and export data, and you get the ability to use the app on your Apple Watch.
If you want to keep track of your steps without downloading anything extra, you can use the Health app that's built in on your iPhone. If you have an Apple Watch, this is also where you can find the stats it tracks (like how much you've been standing and exercising).
Get it for iOS.
This app pays you in "Sweatcoins" that can be used to buy certain products, like headphones or athletic clothes, depending on how many steps you log. Since you need to keep the app open in the background to earn credit, people complain that it drains their phone's battery life. Just note that there's a cap on the amount of Sweatcoins you can earn per day, but you can use the virtual currency to upgrade to a higher threshold so you can earn more.
Amina Lake AbdelrahmanAmina is a product review writer and editor who worked as an editorial assistant in the Good Housekeeping Institute from 2018 to 2020, writing original content based on GH Lab experts' product testing and analysis.