While I am a huge Apple fan, I also have another passion. I love to run. It wasn’t always the case that I really enjoyed lacing up my shoes and getting out for a long run but as I’ve gotten older I find running distances at least 3 miles therapeutic. And the only thing that makes a long run better is running with my iPhone.
I know most people look to iPod’s to help them with their run. The iPod app is one that I use almost every time I go out running, but its not the only app that I use. I really like to track where I’ve gone, how fast I ran, and how many calories I’ve burned. The GPS component of the iPhone allows me to do all that with a high level of accuracy.
At first I utilized versions of apps like RunKeeper and eventually purchased the full version of the app so that I could take advantage of all its features. Recently though I’ve experimented with the Nike+ GPS app for the iPhone and the Adidas miCoach. Both of these apps have similar features as the RunKeeper but come at lower price points. In fact, Addidas miCoach is free. Now that I’ve had a chance to use each of these apps a few times during my runs with my new pair of Vibram FiveFingers (If you run, and haven’t tried these out, you’re missing out!) I figure I would share my thoughts on each of the apps.
Running with RunKeeper
RunKeeper is a solid app that accurately keeps track of your running path and speed. Its most powerful feature though maybe its website where you can easily review your previous runs, create running routes, and connect with other runners. The information about elevation changes and how it impacts your speed is also very interesting. I loved RunKeeper from the get go and it is still one of my favorite apps to use.
The area I would like to see improved is the actual interface of the iPhone app. Its interface is very simple and feels like most other iPhone apps, but it doesn’t stand out. This isn’t a huge deal for the application because it performs so well and is so feature rich but I would love to see a more visual friendly interface in future versions of the app.
Nike+ GPS for iPhone
Before GPS was part of the iPhone, I purchased a pair of Nike+ and the accessory to the iPod Nano that allowed me to track my runs. At the time I thought it was a perfect combination but found out later with the help of the GPS accuracy of Runkeeper that the Nike+ iPod combination was really inaccurate. In fact it had me believing that I was running 3 miles when I was really only going a little more than 2.
When I saw that Nike+ GPS came to the iPhone I figured I would give Nike another shot. They didn’t disappoint. The app is $1.99 on the iTunes store and visually stunning. Its theme and structure match the Nike+ website and is very easy to use and navigate. With just a few clicks I was set and running down a path with Nike+ keeping me updated on my progress. The Voice Over on Nike+ is by far the best of the three apps. Nike paid a bit extra for a professional voice over artist and while it isn’t much I do appreciate the comforting voice when completing a run.
The developers of Nike+ GPS have done an outstanding job with this Running application for the iPhone.
miCoach from Adidas
As we mentioned earlier miCoach is free and in some sense you get what you pay for. The interface is confusing, does its best to get you to create an account with Adidas, and tries to focus more on coaching you through a workout and less about keeping you informed of your progress. This may be a great combination for many, but it just isn’t what I look for in my running applications.
Having said that, it still is an accurate tool and will help you keep progress of your runs. If you’re willing to trade your email address and information for this free app then it is probably a solid option for you.
While I really enjoy RunKeeper, I believe the next time I slip on my FiveFingers for a barefoot run, I’ll do so with Nike+ GPS. I really enjoy the app, its accuracy, and the Voice Over quality just wins me over. The other apps will remain on my phone should I decide to switch it up a bit, but I really believe that for the current version of iPhone Running GPS tools, Nike+ is the winner.