In fall 2018 I contacted Suunto’s support to ask them if they are planning to make it possible to sync moves from the new Suunto smartphone app to Movescount. It really annoyed me that this was not possible because I had to connect my new Suunto 9 to my computer via a cable to see my activities in Movescount, even though they were already available in Suunto mobile app which syncs with the watch wirelessly (Bluetooth). I got a very straightforward reply: There is no plan to make this possible. So, I dug a bit deeper and asked them if they are discontinuing Movescount. I mean, why else would there be no plan to make these two platforms compatible with each other? They replied that there is indeed a plan to eventually replace Movescount with Suunto app.
In the middle of January 2019 Suunto officially announced that they are discontinuing Movescount in a blog post and received some very angry comments. To be honest, I’m not very surprised over the angry comments as I’m also annoyed with the news. Movescount is not perfect, but it does have some very neat features such as route planning, watch customization and numerous metrics about your activities. Can you imagine planning a route in an app on a smartphone rather than on a PC with a proper screen size? Trust me, it’s quite a hassle. However, don’t panic just yet. According to Suunto, Movescount will be discontinued at earliest in the summer of 2020. This means that Suunto has a lot of time to improve the Suunto app. Nevertheless, in the following I’ll explain why this transition might be problematic.
Transition from Movescount to Suunto app:
- According to Suunto the app will be mobile-only!
- Which smartphones will be supported?
- Route planning on a smartphone is a hassle!
- How will it function for watches without Bluetooth?
According to Suunto the app will be mobile-only!
According to Suunto the app will stay mobile-only, unless they get a lot of requests for a web app. I think this is complete nonsense. I can’t imagine viewing all those graphs (altitude, heart rate, speed etc.) and maps from my hiking trips on a 5-inch smartphone screen. It might work for simpler activities such as, gym training, treadmill etc., but as soon as you will have to deal with the map and see the details, the user experience will be terrible. Note that at the present time, the Suunto app offers very limited information about your activities in comparison to Movescount. However, I believe that Suunto will add more metrics in the future. Nevertheless, that’s not all; the app being mobile-only also brings up a lot of other issues such as compatibility with different smartphones, route planning and connectivity with watches without Bluetooth.
Which smartphones will be supported?
The Movescount web app works on literally any computer/browser because it’s relatively easy to ensure software compatibility with various browsers and computers. However, that’s not the case with smartphones as there are so many different versions of the Android and iOS operating system. It’s not uncommon that software developers make apps unavailable for older smartphones because it takes them a lot of resources and time to ensure compatibility. So, if Suunto app will be mobile-only you will also need a relatively new smartphone to use it. It sucks that your watch becomes dependent on your smartphone. Therefore, I really hope that we manage to convince Suunto to also make it as a web app!
Route planning on a smartphone is a hassle!
The Suunto app already allows you to plan routes which are then synced with the watch wirelessly. However, the experience is nowhere near as good as the one in Movescount. Movescount actually has a really good route planning feature which supports different maps (the Mapbox terrain map is really good for planning hikes!) and calculates ascent, descent and distance live while you are creating the route. In the Suunto app it’s incredibly hard to plan a route because you have no overview of the map on a small 5-inch screen. Furthermore, it’s also hard to tap precisely with fingers unless you zoom in on the map all the time.
How will it function for watches without Bluetooth?
The biggest downside of the transition from Movescount to Suunto app is probably the lack of support for older watches. Suunto doesn’t plan to ensure the compatibility of watches without Bluetooth (Suunto Ambit, Ambit 2 etc.) with the Suunto app. This basically means that owners of these watches will not be able to sync their watches (export activities, plan routes etc.) after the transition. This is really a bummer, especially because these watches are not that old. I bought my Suunto Ambit 2 watch less than five years ago, and when I compare it to my new Suunto 9, it is not that different. The wrist HR and Bluetooth on the Suunto 9 are the only things that come to my mind. So, why would Suunto cut the support for these well-functioning, if older watches? Well, these watches don’t have Bluetooth and thus they obviously can’t be synced wirelessly. Since the Suunto app is mobile-only, there is literally no way to sync them – you can’t put the USB cable into a smartphone. However, if Suunto would decide to also make a web app, this wouldn’t be a problem. You would be able to sync the watch without Bluetooth via the cable.
Note: In December 2019, Suunto stated that they will develop a new web-based tool to support Ambit (1, 2 and 3) and Traverse family watches. The web-based tool will be available only for these watches and not much is known about its functionality.
As most Suunto users, I’m not happy about the transition from Movescount to Suunto app. However, I think that many frustrations could be avoided if Suunto would decide to also make a web app. A web app would allow them to support older watches without Bluetooth, use the route planning feature from Movescount and avoid compatibility issues with millions of different smartphones. I know that apps are super popular nowadays, but do we really need an app for just about everything? Some things simply work better and more efficiently on a desktop.
I’d love to hear about your thoughts on Suunto discontinuing Movescount. Write them in the comments section below.