Behind the Design of Gentler Streak: A Closer Look

Behind the Design: Gentler Streak

Behind the Design: Gentler Streak

Gentler Streak is a different kind of fitness tracker. In fact, to hear cofounder and CEO Katarina Lotrič tell it, it’s not really a fitness tracker at all.

“We think of it more as a lifestyle app,” says Lotrič, from the team’s home office in Kranj, Slovenia. “We want it to feel like a compass, a reminder to get moving, no matter what that means for you,” she says.


Meet the 2024 Apple Design Award winners

That last part is key. True to its name, the Apple Design Award-winning Gentler Streak takes a friendlier approach to fitness. Instead of focusing on performance — on the bigger, faster, and stronger — Gentler Streak meets people where they are, presenting workout suggestions, statistics, and encouragement for all skill levels.

“A lot of mainstream fitness apps can seem to be about pushing all the time,” Lotrič says. “But for a lot of people, that isn’t the reality. Everyone has different demands and capabilities on different days. We thought, ‘Can we create a tool to help anyone know where they’re at on any given day, and guide them to a sustainably active lifestyle?’”

If a 15-minute walk is what your body can do at that moment, that’s great.

Katarina Lotrič, CEO and cofounder of Gentler Stories

To reach those goals, Lotrič and her Gentler Stories cofounders — UI/UX designer Andrej Mihelič, senior developer Luka Orešnik, and CTO and iOS developer Jasna Krmelj — created an app powered by an optimistic and encouraging vibe that considers physical fitness and mental well-being equally.

Fitness and workout data (collected from HealthKit) is presented in a colorful, approachable design. The app’s core functions are available for free; a subscription unlocks premium features. And an abstract mascot named Yorhart (sound it out) adds to the light touch. “Yorhart helps you establish a relationship with the app and with yourself, because it’s what your heart would be telling you,” Lotrič says.

It’s working: In addition to the 2024 Apple Design Award for Social Impact, Gentler Streak was named 2022 Apple Watch App of the Year. What’s more, it has an award-winning ancestor: Lotrič and Orešnik won an Apple Design Award in 2017 for Lake: Coloring Book for Adults, making them the rare double winners for different apps. Krmelj joined them there in 2019.

The trio used the success of Lake to learn more about navigating the industry. But something else was happening during that time: The team, all athletes, began revisiting their own relationships with fitness. Lotrič suffered an injury that kept her from running for months and affected her mental health; she writes about her experiences in Gentler Streak’s editorial section. Mihelič had a different issue. “My problem wasn’t that I lacked motivation,” he says. “It was that I worked out too much. I needed something that let me know when it was enough.”

Statistics are just numbers. Without knowing how to interpret them, they are meaningless.

Katarina Lotrič, CEO and cofounder of Gentler Stories

As a way to reset, Mihelič put together an internal app, a simple utility that encouraged him to move but also allowed time for recuperation. “It wasn’t very gentle,” he laughs. “But the core idea was more or less the same. It guided but it didn’t push. And it wasn’t based on numbers; it was more explanatory.”

Over time, the group began using Mihelič’s app. “We saw right away that it was sticky,” says Lotrič. “I came back to it daily, and it was just this basic prototype. After a while, we realized, ‘Well, this works and is built, to an extent. Why don’t we see if there’s anything here?’”

That’s when Lotrič, Orešnik, and Krmelj split from Lake to create Gentler Stories with Mihelič. „I wanted in because I loved the idea behind the whole company,” Krmelj says. “It wasn’t just about the app. I really like the app. But I really believed in this idea about mental well-being.”

Early users believed it too: The team found that initial TestFlight audience members returned at a stronger rate than expected. “Our open and return rates were high enough that we kept thinking, “Are these numbers even real?’” laughs Lotrič. The team found that those early users responded strongly to the “gentler” side, the approachable repositioning of statistics.

“We weren’t primarily addressing the audience that most fitness apps seemed to target,” says Lotrič. “We focused on everyone else, the people who maybe didn’t feel like they belonged in a gym. Statistics are just numbers. Without knowing how to interpret them, they are meaningless. We wanted to change that and focus on the humanity.” By fall of 2021, Gentler Streak was ready for prime time.

Today’s version of the app follows the same strategy of Mihelič’s original prototype. Built largely in UIKit, its health data is smartly organized, the design is friendly and consistent, and features like its Monthly Summary view — which shows how you’re doing in relation to your history — focus less on comparison and more on progress, whatever that may mean. “If a 15-minute walk is what your body can do at that moment, that’s great,” Lotrič says. “That how we make people feel represented.”

The app’s social impact continues to grow. In the spring of 2024, Gentler Streak added support for Japanese, Korean, and traditional and simplified Chinese languages; previous updates added support for French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese.

And those crucial features — fitness tracking, workout suggestions, metrics, and activity recaps — will remain available to everyone. “That goes with the Gentler Stories philosophy,” says Lotrič. “We’re bootstrapped, but at the same time we know that not everyone is in a position to support us. We still want to be a tool that helps people stay healthy not just for the first two weeks of the year or the summer, but all year long.”

Meet the 2024 Apple Design Award winners

Behind the Design is a series that explores design practices and philosophies from finalists and winners of the Apple Design Awards. In each story, we go behind the screens with the developers and designers of these award-winning apps and games to discover how they brought their remarkable creations to life.


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