2014 Smartphone Running Apps: Nike+, Endomondo and Strava

About a year ago, I wrote this post and that continues to generate a significant amount of traffic to the blog.  Things have changes in the past year, so it's time to write an update (and slightly apologize to Nike+ because it does actually work indoors).

Nike+ Ipod is the old school app on the list.  It works with several generations of iPod Touch and iPod Nanos, and may require a separate foot pod that costs $19 and lasts a long time.  I include it here because it does work on an iOS smart phone and it has its uses.
  • Favorite feature: works reliably indoors or outdoors and doesn't require GPS.
  • Weakness: tends to report wonky data for workouts that include walking and running
  • I keep using it because it's winter in Minnesota and I do a significant miles inside

Nike+ Running is the GPS friendly app from Nike, and very similar in features to Nike+iPod, with the same website.
  • Favorite feature: it actually does work inside see below and handles run/walk workouts quite well
  • Weakness: the website, which is user friendly but not feature rich and doesn't always display data correctly.  See here for a full account.
  • I keep using it because it actually works inside and sometimes I forget my iPod or want to listen to the music on my phone.

And now, Sorry to Nike.  Last year I said basically, no this app doesn't work for indoor running.  And then I had a desperate situation one night at the gym (when I'd forgotten an iPod or a foot pod or something) and grudgingly tried it out.  I used it in my armband, even though it said not to.  (No way am I carrying this phone in my hand for that long.)  It worked pretty well actually.  I've found the app handles particularly well in run/walk workouts which had always been a weakness of the iPod app.
I do think Nike makes a mistake on their website, indicating that the phone only tracks indoor runs when handheld.  Because that would be silly.  I turn on the app and put my phone in an armband and have found it to be quite accurate, even though the website assures me the consequences for doing so will be dire. 

Endomondo is an app I found when I was using an Android phone and I've loved it ever since.  It has this wild pricing situation where there's a free app and website, or a "pro app" that's a one time cost but doesn't include a 'premium' website subscription, and then there's this 'premium website and app' subscription which is a monthly or yearly cost. I upgraded to the pro app because I wanted the interval workout feature.  It was totally worth the $4.99.  I'm cheap so I still refuse to pay for the premium website.
  • Favorite feature: the greatness of the website.  Even with the free versions of everything, this website is easily the most feature rich and gives a lot of useful data.  It will break down my fastest mile, 5K, 10K times.  It's also easy to edit workouts and add workouts to specific routes so I can watch myself get faster.  Bonus favorite features are the interval workout option on the Pro App, and the variety of sports that can be tracked.
  • Weakness: It doesn't work indoors.  The fact that it doesn't work for indoor workouts is the only reason I know about these other apps.
  • I keep using this app because it's my favorite.  It has the most features (free or Pro versions) and the best website.
Strava is a new app that I tried out this year.  It pairs with about a million devices (can't tell if more or fewer than Endomondo) and has some unique features.
  • Favorite feature: 'time moving' is tracked, versus the entire workout.  It analyzes GPS data and disregards the time I'm standing at a stop light at Cedar Ave waiting to cross, or the time I scrape the snow off my car and forget to pause the app at the end of a workout.  It's nice on workouts with lots of stoplights but tends to tell me a faster pace for other workouts.
  • Weakness: Distance is measured by the tenth of a mile.  In every other app I've ever tested (including many not mentioned here), distance is given in the hundredth of a mile, which I prefer.  As I mentioned before, pace always looks faster in this app than Endomondo or Nike+ because of the whole "time moving" thing.  Rounding up distances at the end of a workout just exacerbates the problem.
  • I keep using this app because I think it draws the prettiest maps, and I like the graphics for the elevation data as well.  You've seen both on the blog. I promise.

After using a few different apps all year, and seeing what people search for that leads them to this post, I added some new categories, and kept most of the ones from last year.
  • Outdoors: Obviously the app has to work for running outdoors, or it would've been silly for me to include it.
  • Indoor track: Because it's winter in Minnesota and I continue to run.
  • Treadmill: Not many smart phone apps cooperate with treadmill runs.  It's kind of surprising.
  • Foot pod: Because "endomondo+foot pod" is one of the most searched things on this entire blog, which apps work with a foot pod attached to your shoe.
  • Foot pod imports: some apps don't allow a foot pod but will import data from a different platform.
  • Interval workouts: Does the app allow interval workouts, and give audio cues for high intensity, low intensity, etc.  Couch to 5K has taught a lot of people to run this way, and it's a feature that's sorely missed once runners graduate to a different goal.
  • Walking: All of these apps calculate pace and calories burned (lovely).  Calories are burned differently when we walk.  Can the app handle it?
  • Other sports: Can the app track sports besides running?
  • Goal Setting: Can I tell the app "I want to run X miles or X minutes or at X pace" for a workout?
  • Shoe Tracking: Does the app or website keep track of how many miles I've run in a particular pair of shoes?
  • Cost of the app for the smart phone: because I'm cheap.
  • Cost of the website subscription: I'm seeing a new business model (which annoys me because I'm cheap) where the apps are free, and some basic data is free, but then there's an up-charge for a premium service which adds tons of other data.
  • Heart rate monitors: Will the app integrate data from a heart rate monitor?  I'm thinking of getting one this year, so it's important.
  • Platforms: Which apps cooperate with which smart phones.

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