Google is removing an experimental calorie estimator from its Maps iOS app, following criticism from users that the feature amounted to unsolicited health advice and could do more harm than good (via TechCrunch).
The feature began rolling out to some users last week and shows an estimate of the calories that would be burned if a selected walking route was taken.
The calorie estimator not only displayed the potential number of calories burned, but also how many “mini cupcakes” they were worth. “The average person burns 90 calories by walking 1 mile,” the app states. “To help put that into perspective, we’ve estimated how many desserts your walk would burn. One mini cupcake is around 110 calories.”
Some users reportedly welcomed the feature, but it sounds as if a good proportion of them didn’t, as Google has taken the decision to roll it back “based on strong user feedback”.
Why does @googlemaps have a “Calorie Tracker” built into directions I take now? Could be triggering for ppl with past ED.At least have ‘off’ pic.twitter.com/aNEHk346jg
— 👻Nuclear Summer🕸 (@sweetbabyruski) October 14, 2017
I guess Google maps now automatically shows you how many calories you’d burn if you walk somewhere instead of driving pic.twitter.com/eixqCh00rn
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) October 17, 2017
Some user criticism related to an inability to disable the feature, while others questioned its usefulness, given that rates of calorie burn vary widely from person to person, and no context is given about how the estimate is calculated.
Critics also noted that an excessive preoccupation with calorie counting is a symptom of anorexia and other eating disorders, therefore getting calorie estimates every time a route is looked up could have a negative impact on sufferers.
Google Maps can be downloaded from the App Store for free. For those who found the calorie estimator feature useful, other calorie-counting apps are available, such as CityMapper and MyFitnessPal.