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Five Things – Free Running Apps for Android Part 2

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by daveroberts on July 12, 2011
Running

The second Installment of the Free Android Running Apps.. (first one is here)

Cardiotrainer – On opening you can start a schedule for a ‘week’ but not beyond that. Ideal if you’re doing a steady few runs every week and building a base, and so far the best scheduler (you can state the activity you want as well!) but not for multiple week training schedule and you can’t add multiple workouts per day which would have been a nice touch. You can select Trainer and choose a distance or time target for your run, with more advanced interval and calorie targets being part of the premium package.

The running screen is intuitive and easily changed from map and graph and details and after the workout it tells you what you’ve burnt off! Amusing more than useful perhaps, but surprising that an avocado is about the equivalent of an 8k run. I’d prefer the two Mars bars personally. The history screen is good, with clear maps and graphs available. Accuracy about right (0.02km off) but couldn’t change the voice prompts and they seemed to give a random result for pace. It’s a decent app, but the voice coaching could do with a little improvement and while one of the few with a scheduling feature, it’s of limited use unless you follow the same schedule every week. [rating:4 ]

Allsport GPS This app unfortunately insists on mediaeval spelling of Caernarfon, so it nearly got marked a 1 out of 5 and ignored! However on opening up it does offer the weather (though looking out of the window suffices) and a pleasant enough interface to choose your activity. Trail running and running are put on here separately, so about the first attempt we’ve seen at classifying your run but unfortunately no tempos, long runs and so on.

You get no audio feedback and you need to remember to set it on autolap every run if you want it to lap every k, but useful if you’re doing irregular laps where you can lap manually. The full version allows you to take a photo or video during your run, which may or may not appeal, but if you’re running a spectacular trail and not obsessed with time, then this is a nifty little extra. It also records the total for that activity per week and month. Activity review is initially impressive, with the usual maps and stats, but also a choice of graphs, splits and you can review any media taken on the run. It doesn’t let you set a time or distance target for your activity and neither does it rotate the screen from portrait to landsacpe.

Overall a polished app that would be great if only it had a few more essential features such as audio feedback, customised run and if it I didn’t have to activate the laps every run! [rating:3.5]

SportsTracker (STL) Love the ability to fully customise the voice prompts on this app. You can choose whether to receive feedback for your overall pace, last lap pace or most recent (and probably least accurate) pace. You can also receive feedback about distance and heart rate if you’ve got a bluetooth HRM. You can then test this app out in demo mode so you can hear what the feedback will be like and what to expect on your screen during the run.

Reviewing the route is also slick with decent maps, stats and graphs.There’s a training section which, to be totally honest, left us stumped. We managed to get a 11km ‘plan’ but no idea of what you can do with it afterwards. Overall, this is a really good app that’s simple to use and has a clean interface. The ability to customise the voice feedback is among the best we’ve seen, but the ability to customise the runs left us baffled! [rating:4]

iMapMyRUN+/Fitness – First thing about this app is you can’t use it without first registering. Fair enough really as it’s a free app, but very frustrating when you’ve installed it and expect to use it on your run and haven’t the time to faff about registering! It nearly ended up as an also ran! After a few minutes with the app, I realise that would have been a serious omission from this review as it’s the first app that lets you tag your run with the type. Something so simple, but essential! I log Sunday’s trail run on as a cross country run, this app even trusts me to add my own runs! Unfortunately, it doesn’t impress much more beyond that. You have the basic info while running, and you can customise the voice feedback, but you can’t customise your run or much more than that. [rating:3.5]

Record Beater – This has the unique feature of matching your music tempo to your run tempo. You get voice feedback (not customisable) and you can set up custom interval sessions with different music for each type of interval. The main run isn’t customisable, but you can run against your previous tracks if you want. The run screen is your basic distance, time and pace (thankfully, not speed!) which is sufficient, but would be cool to get the option for other metrics on there (altitude for fell/trail running perhaps).  Reviewing your run is via the usual map and splits, but no charts, and you can export as a gpx file via email which gives this app a big thumbs up. During the run, i’m not certain if the runs it picked were always suitable as some slow songs were being chosen as being fast.

Summary. There’s a lot of apps out there around the middle ground. They do a similar sort of thing and none of the above particularly stand out. There’s a glut of also rans that aren’t really worth the bother, but it’s a shame that the others (including those in part 1 of this review) fail to fulfil some of the basic needs of a runner. The maps and the stats while running are a given, but there should be a simple way to schedule your running even if it’s a weekly total, and you should be able to note if your run was a long run, easy, tempo etc. It would then be a simple matter to go back and analyse each week or month in order to see if you’re doing too much of one type of run.

Out of this lot, we really liked the Record Beater for sheer novelty factor, even if it isn’t technically the most fully featured app out there. I hadn’t run with music until reviewing these and while i prefer running without, there were instances when I found it really did help and i may yet be converted. We also really liked Run Free’s interface (an Also Ran though!) for sheer simplicity but it’s a shame it doesn’t have a save gpx feature as it would make a decent minimalist app. Overall, it seems that the Addidas Mi Coach stands out as the best running app for Android, but still falls a little short for my needs. Our final head to head compares them to the standard runner’s set up of using a running GPS such as the Garmins and weighs up the pros and cons.

Note. This review was written before the new Sport Tracker app was released, well at least before we could find it on Market , so stay tuned for our in depth review of the original Nokia app that’s now on Android.

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daveroberts
Some stuff to be put in here later to make me look like i know a lot about this stuff... (Don't forget to delete this bit)..... ;-)

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