Mar 30, 2012

iPod Nano 6G - Fitness App/Icon Accuracy

Gear: iPod Nano 6G

When Apple introduced the firmware version 1.2 they got rid of Nike+ sensor requirement, it now can track runs and walks by itself. The Nano 6G is not 100% accurate, it provides a "guestimation" and that is good enough for most people. In my opinion a device with a GPS would be more accurate.

In short:
  • It is not 100% accurate and it will not be.
  • Consistency in your body's movement is important.

Run Test
For my test I ran on the same route and each time I got different results. My body movements and route cannot be exactly the same. Sometimes I would run faster on downhills, slower on uphills, and sometimes I encountered a few dogs (one of them was nice, the other were not).

  • 1st run - 5.36 KM - 35'05"
  • 2nd run - 5.69 KM - 34'03"
  • 3rd run - 5.90 KM - 34'33"

It seems that each time I ran the distance increased. I believe that without the Nike+ sensor the accuracy is worse. For the professional runner measuring distances is important, but for most average joes/janes this is not entirely crucial and a "guestimation" will be good enough.

Walk Tests

For this test I walked around my local block 3 times. I kept my own pace count and then compared it against what the Nano 6G gave me. My pace count is about 70 (140 steps) to achieve 100 meters.

The results of the Nano and my own pace count are different, but they are not way off. My step count and the Nano 6G's results cannot be 100% accurate because taking the exact same route is near to impossible, and the walk speed does affect pace count. If we average out the totals then we can see that there is a 17 meter difference, my pace showing smaller distances. I think it will work out ok for tracking most walks.

Nike+ vs Built-In Accelerometer - Treadmill Run Test

Sandiway Fong released a comparison betwen the Built-In accelerometer and the Nike+ sensor. He has a few graphs and more details at: THESANDIWAY - Apple iPod Nano 6g v1.2.

1.5 mile treadmill run test. Nike+ on the left, Built-In Accelerometer on the right.

Since we do not need the Nike+ sensor anymore we can use the open 30 pin port for accessories such as bluetooth adapters.

Other Images



  1. Thanks for this - I had been wondering about its accuracy as it doesn't seem right to me....I ran what I thought was a 7km run and it said I only ran 5.5km!!

    1. Approximating run distances is trickier than approximating walks. I think the Nike+ SpotKit helps to estimate better runs because of the shoe sensor, which may measure each step more accurately.

      The Nano by itself will do fine for walks, but I think the run distance estimates could be better. (2m)