Walking/Running Apps for My 3G iPhone
I’ve wanted to write an entry on my blog about these apps since I use them quite often to deal with my stress with the library cutbacks. In the wake of Steve Job’s passing, I can not find myself without using my iPhone throughout the day both personally and professionally. Hell, I’ve even used my iPhone to edit some of this blog while on the road today. With that, now that I am on the fast track of being laid off, it makes sense for me to stay productive and share my knowledge via this electronic medium that is my library blog. So, the librarian in me will continue to live on even without a library to call home. Let’s begin!
I started to walk back in 2008. I did so not because of the obvious health reasons but rather to protest the high cost of gas. Back then, we were looking at the rate of $4+ per gallon and I was just fed up. I mapped out, with my iPhone, what the distance was from my house to my library branch. I was looking at a 6 mile walk. Since I never tried this before, I played a safe bet to leave at least 2 hours before my actual shift. I was able to make it even with my laptop backpack plus change of clothes. I was in pain and sore even before my day started so I did my little protest only a couple of times a month. From there, I became a walker. Not a Skywalker just a true regular walker. From there, I tried many free apps from iTunes which did track my movements, speed, and place but nothing really that worked for me. I did come across two that I like to use depending on how well my iPhone is working: RunKeeper and Nike+.
Pros: There is a deal of whiz-bang features even in the free version but I opted to pay the $9.99 to get the complete package. I love the camera app in RunKeeper that marks the point along the path of where I took that picture for later reference. Another feature is being to post my activity on to my Facebook profile. I can also post to Twitter but since I have my Facebook to set up to post something on to Twitter, it’s not really needed. There’s lots of tweaking to play with from the audio cues to the type of distance unit I want to record. By far, I love being able to see the activity history online and track my progress. While I can see it on my iPhone, the user experience is better through the RunKeeper’s website where you are see the different charts of your progress.
Cons: The GPS on this app has not been the most effective. To be fair, I can’t say if it’s the app or the iPhone. I’ve restarted and re-installed several times both but still have the occasional glitches. In addition, there were times where I have to stop the program to go into a store or when I get a call, I have to restart the program. For some reason, the GPS does not locate or marks me in a different site. It does realign itself after some time but if you are tracking your progress from day-to-day and so on, this can be quite frustrating.
Next, there are no audio controls to change the music. I set my tastes on shuffle to mix things up but since I have a mix of pop songs, techno and soundtrack pieces, my walking needs are not being met properly.
Pros: I opted from paying anymore for these types of apps but this free version of Nike+ simply blows RunKeeper away. After my walk, just like RunKeeper, I can look on a map to see the route I took but I can switch from Distance to Pace and there I get this great piece of visual eye candy let me know my fastest to the slowest parts of my walking. The Setting are great to use and my favorite to set it to time or distance. The audio cue does it’s job by notifying you at mile markers but it also encourages you not to give up. Also, you can post on to Facebook your results but you can let your friends know when you’re starting and send you Cheers while you’re walking. Not that it has happened yet but I can only imagine to hear this while during your routine. Best of all which has two parts, when you start the walk, there are audio controls to pause, go to previous song or go to next song. The other part has to do with getting calls. When the iPhone receives a call, the app resumes right where it left off and not having to start the program all over again.
Cons: The main problem has to do with the battery consumption when running this app. While I use the screen saver, the most I can get it maybe 4+ miles or 1 hour+ of running time. Since I try to decrease the amount of stuff to carry with walking, it makes no sense to stop somewhere to recharge my iPhone battery, having to wait, and then starting the process all over again.
Overall Winner: I would have to say that there was no clear winner between the two apps. The biggest issue I had been the battery life. Recently, I found something to help resolve this dilemma. However, this only works while using RunKeeper. First, I start my music separate from the app via the iPod. I then start the RunKeeper app until it is ready to start. Once I click on the Start Activity button, I click on the Sleep/Power button on the top of the iPhone. This will lock the iPhone but I can still access the music control. If you press the Home button, you will see the lock screen. If you press the Home button twice, the audio controls appear on the top part of the screen. Just like the Nike+ app, I have the same audio controls and the bonus, the battery life is extended. I’ve gone walking 2+ hours with about 1/2 of the battery life gone and this has allowed me to walk even farther without worries to have to get a re-charge along the way – RunKeeper is the winner.
Please let me know your experience with these apps or with other you can recommend others for me to try. I am interested in jogging in the future and C25K is something I’m planning on trying to use. Hope you found this piece helpful. Drop me a comment below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org