Google has decided to get rid of the calorie tracking feature it had added to the Google Maps iOS app. The feature crudely estimated the number of calories that would be burned by walking to a location versus driving or taking the bus. Though nifty for those who cared, the feature was heavily criticized for its lack of accuracy and in-your-face nature.
If you don’t use Google Maps on iOS, you likely weren’t aware of the feature’s existence. It worked by demonstrating how much calorie values were worth based on mini cupcakes — for example, telling you that you burned an estimated number of calories that were the equivalent of two mini cupcakes. This was all based on an estimated calorie count, though, which could be wildly inaccurate depending on how much a person weighs and how tall they are.
The feature was experimental during its time, and while it is possible to see the appeal, the feature wasn’t received well by some users. The company was accused by some of carelessness for potentially triggering people with eating disorders, while others complained that they didn’t want to be reminded of weight-related things every time they got directions through the app.
Because the feature depended on the amount of calories ‘the average person’ would burn if they walked a similar mile or kilometer, it left a huge space for potential error. For example, someone who weighs 250lbs will burn considerably more calories over that mile than someone who weighs 100lbs. The inability to turn the feature off compounded the concerns.