Pakistani fitness app that rewards exercising ranks third in Google student challenge

Residents wearing facemasks walk on a hiking trail on Margalla Hill during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown against COVID-19, Islamabad on April 29, 2020. Parks and hiking trails in the Margalla Hills have been opened to the public for the purpose of exercising. (AFP/File)
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Updated 01 August 2020

Pakistani fitness app that rewards exercising ranks third in Google student challenge

  • Moazzam Maqsood's ‘Worthy Walk’ stood out among more than 400 submissions from around the world
  • App lets you earn rewards for exercising in the form of currency coins to be redeemed as discounts from businesses, shops and restaurants

KARACHI: Two years ago, school teacher Samia Maqsood asked her son to build an app that could help her stay fit, and the computer science student took up the challenge.

Therein began a journey of researching days and nights, experimenting with different models and brainstorming with friends until Moazzam Maqsood was finally "able to present the app to fitness freaks like my mother."

“In April this year ‘Worthy Walk,’ developed by our team of students, was sent to the Solution Challenge competition,” the 23-year-old told Arab News on Friday, referring to an annual contest presented by Google's Developer Student Clubs (DSC) that invites young tech-savvy people to develop solutions for community problems using one or more Google products or platforms. There are over 800 DSCs across the globe, according to Google. 

Maqsood's app came third in June 2020 among ten global winners. It had already been available on Google Play since December 2019 and stood out in a competition in which more than 400 submissions were evaluated from around the world. 
The developers used Google Cloud, Android, Firebase, Google Analytics, and Google Maps to develop the app. “To ensure more accuracy, we use GPS tracking systems,” Maqsood said. 
With the advent of smartphones, mobile apps have become increasingly popular among people, with fitness apps growing 85 percent faster than most other applications, according to the International Journal of Recent Technology and Engineering,

The concept behind Maqsood's fitness app is quite simple: walk, run and cycle and earn rewards in the form of inbuilt currency coins that can be redeemed as discounts from local businesses, shops and startups. 

“People want to keep themselves fit and healthy, but they also have a tendency of giving up soon; the basic idea of Worthy Walk is to keep them motivated,” Maqsood said, adding: “The idea of rewarding people is at the heart of the app. It’s like providing them with vouchers which they can redeem at partner restaurants or garment stores.” 

“So far, more than 5,000 people have used the app and the number is growing,” he said. “We are trying to come up with more rewards for our users by engaging big businesses.” 

Maqsood said his idea was initially rejected by several incubation centers but was selected by his own university as a class project, which gave him and his classmates the opportunity to refine it.

“We frequently went back to the drawing board,” he said, “and after much trial and error launched the app on Google Play in December 2019.” 

FM Qureshi dismisses reports of diplomatic friction, says Pakistan, Saudi close friends and allies

Updated 15 min 42 sec ago

FM Qureshi dismisses reports of diplomatic friction, says Pakistan, Saudi close friends and allies

  • Says his OIC statement was decontextualized and used for ‘political point scoring’ by opposition parties 
  • Praises Saudi Arabia for always being Pakistan’s ‘supporter and well-wisher’ 

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi categorically denied on Friday that there was any diplomatic tension between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, saying that the two countries enjoyed strong and exemplary relationship since they had always been close friends and allies. 

Qureshi made the statement on Geo News, a local television channel, during an interview in which he was asked about his recent comments on the Saudi-led Organization of Islamic Cooperation in which he had said that his country would raise the Kashmir issue outside the framework of the inter-governmental Muslim organization if a conference of OIC foreign ministers was not held on Kashmir.

His statement was immediately condemned by opposition politicians who described it as “irresponsible” and reminded the government that Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia were critically important. 

Discussing the situation, Qureshi said that the opposition had decontextualized his statement and was indulging in “political point scoring.” 

“After the United Nations, where we have taken up the Kashmir issue three times in the last one year, the second biggest forum is the OIC,” he explained. “The OIC has consistently maintained a historic position over the issue. It also established a contact group that releases joint communiques focusing on rights violations in occupied Kashmir.” 

However, he added that the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers was a relevant forum to discuss the challenges faced by Muslims around the world. It was also the best platform to discuss “the anti-Muslim sentiments prevailing in India.” 

“I am, therefore, respectfully asking that forum to understand the sentiments of the people of Pakistan and Kashmir,” he continued. 

Qureshi denied that Saudi Arabia had somehow resisted Pakistan’s requests on Kashmir, saying he was particularly thankful to the Saudi foreign minister who raised fine points while addressing the issue from the OIC forum. 

“Saudi Arabia is our supporter and well-wisher,” he continued. “I know how many Pakistanis live and work in the Kingdom. I am also aware of the fact that the Saudi authorities have helped us in difficult situations, and I am going to reiterate that defending the Saudi land is like a sacred responsibility for us, and we are going to do that even by putting our own lives in danger. It is important, however, that they should also heed the desires of our people.” 

He maintained that he only sought the meeting of OIC foreign ministers since it was going to have a major diplomatic impact, adding that anything the participants said during the congregation was going to resonate with people around the world. 

“One only makes such demands while dealing with close friends,” he noted. “Such demands are not made in relationships with distances.”