Geoffrey Wiseman

On "Moves"

After reading some pleasant things about Moves (iTunes, website) I thought I should check it out a little more closely.

First Impressions

It's pretty. It's not overloaded with information that I don't care about but the information that is there is well-presented and easy to understand.

App Screenshot

I liked being able to review my day, see what I'd done, how active I had been, where I had been. I liked being able to do that for days gone by. It was handy information to have around, and well-presented. Unfortunately, the battery life and privacy issues were another story.

Battery Life

I've used some location-tracking apps before, like Highlight, and while Moves was better than some, this kind of app is still definitely too taxing for the iPhone as it stands. Without Moves, I might have between about 70% and 40% of my battery left when I return home on a normal day. With Moves enabled, it was more like 20%-40%. That still gets me through an average day, but it pretty much guarantees that if I want to have an above-average day in terms of using my phone — stay out late, play a lot of games, play music the whole day long, hang out in an area with terrible reception — Moves is likely to cramp my style.

I'd love smart-phones to have a battery life that could last all day while playing games and running Moves without needing to think about topping up the battery, but it's just not there yet. The iPhone is better than many, but it's still something you need to think about, and Moves basically guarantees you'll have to think about it more frequently.


Not everyone is comfortable recording and/or sharing their location information. I find myself in what feels like the middle ground where I:

  • enjoy having access to a log of places that I've visited and places that I'd like to visit
  • am willing to share that with friends, family, and even some seemingly trustworthy acquaintances
  • am not willing to share that information in full detail with total strangers or relatively new acquaintances

There's a wide range of opinions on this subject, so depending on where you stand, you might agree that I'm in the middle ground, or feel that my approach is:

  • incredibly naive and dangerously unprivate
  • incredibly over-cautious and silly

However, Moves isn't a social system, at least, not yet. It tracks your movement individually, shares that information with its servers, but doesn't share individual information with third parties. Their privacy policy, however, does leave a pretty wide range of options open about information they might share in aggregate.

So, why are they offering me a location-tracking application for free? What are they going to do with the aggregated data? How will I be packaged and sold, as part of a larger package of data, to third-parties? What profit model do they have in mind? Do they even have one, or are they just hoping to gather enough location-based data that someone will decide it's valuable and scoop them up? I don't know, and I guess I'd like to. This is something they might want to think about writing about, answering on Quora or adding to the FAQ.

And So?

I've turned Moves' tracking off for now. I wasn't happy with my battery life while using it, and while I like the information Moves is offering me, I feel like I need to understand how they're planning on using it.