12. apr. 2013

Best sporting tracker app for your smartphone test

A few months ago, I tried downloading the app "Endomondo Sport Tracker" from Google Play, to try it out on my new Sony smartphone.

It's a so-called sport-app, just one of many out there for either your Iphone, Android or Windows smartphone, where you can track your exercise via your smartphones GPS-system. It doesnt matter if it's running, cycling, rowing, or whatever you might do as an exercise outdoors, you can track it, and then afterwards, it will be uploaded automatically from your smartphone to Endomondo.com, where you can log in with your user, and then see how your training went. It also gives you an indication of how fast your fastest kilometer (or mile for you britishmen and americans) or fastest hour went, and exactly at what point you made this achievement. This way you can always keep track of yourself, if you are faster now than you were 2 months ago.

It also gives you a clear indication of how many calories you have burned, so if you are a fitnessfreak who counts every single calories you burn and eat, it can also help you counting the calories you have burned, and keep track of it.
But what I found the best was, that it actually adds a lot of fun to your exercises, because you can now compete with yourself in more ways than just the average speed from start to finish. It makes you go out and try to beat your own, or a friends, hour-record or a sprint lasting 1 kilometer, doing it as fast as you can.

It sounds great of course, but does it work? Well, I personally only have good experiences with it. But I know several owners of especially HTC-smartphones having troubles with it losing GPS-signal, and therefore also ends up losing track of some of the distance underway in the training. Especially out of the towns, where the telecompanies don't give you that great of a signal as close to the bigger cities, it tends to cut out for some people. But after a few months, i havent had any problems with it yet. But i guess im lucky, or Sony just make smartphones that are better than the average, then it comes to having a great signal.

The layout of Endomondo is nice and easy to understand. The simplicity is great, and it doesnt take too much power out of my smartphone as I feared at first. I can keep it going for about 10 hours with the free version of the app. If you pay only a few dollars, you can get a version of the app that gives you some more features, where one of these is extending batterytime on your smartphone, while its tracking. With this, I should get 3-4 more hours out of it, but really, how many needs 10 hours+ of power, to track their exercises? Just make sure your smartphonebattery isnt close to being empty, and it should be just fine.

Another thing I really like about it, is the community-options it gives. You can create and join any challenge, like "fastest 1 km, fastest 100 km, greatest amount of exercises, most time spend on a bike, etc", and compete with friends, or another person from the other side of the world. You can also join special teams and compete with these, against other teams.

And when it comes to watching your workout afterwards on Endomondo's website, you get a lot of valuable and fun information, packed in a nice layout. Firstly there is of course the standard things like distance, time, average speed. But also max speed, along with a nice cool graph on how you performed during the workout. If you slide your cursor alongside the graph, a red dot will show up on the map, where you were exactly on that time. That way you can easily see, that it was going uphill and you managed 30 km/h still on that exact spot, which you will forever be able to look back on. If you use a GPS-device and then upload it, it shows the cadence and heartratemonitor too (Not having a functioning one atm, hence there arent one in the pic below)

It also comes with a possibility for subscribing for a small fee per month, to get some extra options. A few examples is that you can see more data on how you perform and have performed since you started. Another fun thing is, that you can compare your own personal records with everyone else who uses Endomondo. Its always great to see that you are one of the 5% fastest on a bike in a 160 km distance, while you can see you have to work on getting a better 10 km record. At least that was my experience in the 7 day free trial i had.
But would i pay for the subscription?
No. Thats how easily I can say it. Everything I mentioned above apart from the last couple of things, in the free edition, and I dont really need these few other gimmicks to enjoy the app. But others will of course like to be able to see how they perform over some different kind of distances now, than 4 months ago.

But Endomondo definately gives you extra motivation for your ride, and if you are like me, and like to analyze every single workout, you can get a lot of information still, even with the free version of it, which makes it fun looking back at the workout you just did, and just waiting for tomorrow, where you can try to do better.

But what about the rest of the field? Another very popular app for cycling is called "Strava".

Strava can track your distance and route via the smartphone's navigation too, and the difference in the app itself is small. Only the userface is a bit different. Strava's is more simple, while Endomondo gives you possibility for a more personal setting. As a matter of the looks of the apps, i would say i prefer Endomondo, but then again, thats a very personal thing, and it doesnt really mean anything in the end, because its not whats the important thing about these apps.

But there is 1 thing i really really REALLY like about Strava, and its the Personal records and king of hills. To see this, you have to go to Strava.com , and see your uploaded rides. If you have a tough hill and done your best effort to climb it just as fast as you can, you can can create a socalled "Segment", if one havent already been created, on the hill or straight road. Everyone else who has ridden that hill with Strava, will have their times posted in the rankings, and here you can compete with every other Strava users to see, who is the true king of the hill. It's really a very fun and nice feature, which I really miss at Endomondo. An example can be seen below here (and of course im the leader! ;) ) :

The difference on batteryusage between Endomondo and Strava is really small. I really couldnt feel any difference at all here, so im perfectly fine with it, and it can easily last a 100km+ trip for me.

But what about analyzing the workouts you upload to the website? Well its just as good as the one at Endomondo. It doesnt look just as nice as their Danish competitors, but it works just as well. It does too have a graph like the one at Endomondo, and a green dot does appear on the map, if your cursor is pointing somewhere on the graph. The only thing to mention here, is that it does also show what "segments" you have been riding on at that specific workout, and tells you how well you did in them. So the difference here, is actually only the visual styles, where Endomondo, at least for me, wins.

This also comes with a possibility for subscribing for a small amount per month, to get some more advantages. These includes heartrate-index, powermeasurement (With free you can just see the average power output you made) and some few other things. Again, its a matter of personal demand, I get what I want via the free version, and i couldnt see myself paying for it.

Then there is also the Garmin Connect. Its made by the worldfamous GPS-manufacture Garmin, who makes, what my personal experience at least is, the best cyclingbased GPS-devices. Its not an app itself, but if you have a Garmin Edge 300, 500 or 800-series, would this then be better to keep a track of your training sessions, than the 2 others?

Answer is; yes, and no. Its the simplest of the 3, and therefore it lacks a few things, which i love about Endomondo and Strava. Its stuff like the competitions between the whole community from Endomondo, or the king of the hill from Strava, I really could use here, to make it more exciting to do your workout.
But it does come in handy with a nice detailed view on your tracked rides, and how you have performed in total, which you can see below (Sorry its in Danish, but I hope you get the point)

It does also tell you what average distance you have for all your workouts the past week, month, year or total, which can be motivating to try to increase next time you are on your roadbike. For every workout you do, you do get just as detailed informations of how it went, as with the other 2 above, like you can see below:

But which would I prefer of these?
Well, for myself right now, i use all 3, but I would rather lose Garmin, than Strava or Endomondo, because these gives you something to fight for in your next training. Like "I have to get best time on this hill", or "I can do another 5 km so i overtake the guy from work in that challenge on Endomondo". Garmin just doesnt have this extra motivator. Its for lone-wolves, while Garmin and Strava does get you into competing with others. But because of this, i would say I cant choose between Strava nor Endomondo. They have things the other one lacks of, and mixing these 2 would make a perfect sporting app for the mass. Endomondo have a nicer layout though, but that is just a gimmick not really worth giving it the victory for me at least. Function will always beat looks for me, and here they are just as good as each other.

I hope this has helped you choose your favourite. At least try testing these out, because they are the most used ones, and therefore also have a brightlooking future for existence.

Remember to subscribe and share, it would mean a lot to me! :)

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