Fitbit announced last week that it is changing the way it calculates and displays active minutes for users. Under the new methodology, active minutes will only be attributed if a user participates in an activity for over 10 minutes, which is what the American Heart Association recommends. “This 10-minute rule means that walking to refill your coffee might get you ahead in a step challenge, but it will no longer count toward your active minutes,” the company explained. “It also means that from now on, your active minutes may sometimes appear lower than what you’re used to.” This change will not affect the user’s step count numbers.
Lately, the accuracy of activity-tracking apps and devices has been a point of some contention. In early February, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a small study and concluded that activity tracking apps on smartphones are equally accurate as fitness tracking wearables when it comes to step counts (and are free). In response to the study, several activity tracking device makers, including Garmin, Misfit, Fitbit, and Jawbone, pointed out that it’s more important if the device is consistent with itself. It gives a valid comparison of a user’s steps yesterday to their steps today, even if that step count is a little bit divorced from reality.