Saturday, 19 January 2013

Endomondo Sports Tracker – App review


I thought it was time for another iPhone app review, this time an app, I’ve had on my phone for over a year. I’ve used it on and off for some months, but now I’ve started to really use it again, though mostly for tracking my runs.

I’m talking about the Endomondo Sports Tracker app (PRO ver. 7.20).
I used to have the Free version, but there are some features in the PRO version, which I need for the training program I’m using (such as Interval training and Time goal).
The PRO version is also ads free, which is a huge bonus in my optics.

Both the Free and paid version of the app have a bunch of features, some which I don’t even use, so I’ll mainly review the features I use normally.


Workout types
Start screen

Basic

Basic is the standard option, where you just track your workout, let it be running, cycling, kayaking or any of the other 48 other activities to choose from (haven’t tried using it while lifting weights or doing gymnastics, so not sure how it would work there, even though those activities are on the list).
This option will track your time (duration), distance, calories burned (an estimate, unless you have a Heart Rate (HR) monitor belt connected), average speed, current speed, Heart Rate (again needs the HR belt), and hydration (again, only an estimate, unless you’ve a HR belt connected). You can, however, only see 4 of the 7 different categories on the main screen.
I rarely use this option.



Choose a workout

Distance goal

The heading pretty much explains this feature, though I want to add that the distance you can choose from is in 100 meter or 0.1 mile intervals, all the way up to 1000.9 meters or miles.
Quite often I use this option, either doing Long Slow Distance running or rucking.

Time goal (PRO feature)

This is pretty self-explanatory, just as the Distance goal, except, instead of choosing the distance, you get to choose how long you want your workout to be.
The intervals here are 1-minute intervals, all the way up to 23 hours and 59 minutes.
I use this for my Continuously High Intensity workouts, which are timed workouts.



Calorie Goal (PRO feature)

Choose how many calories you want to burn. Not very accurate if you don’t have a HR monitor belt connected to the app. I’m saying this because I get different numbers of calories burned, when I get back from a run, the app showing one number, my wrist HR monitor shows another (and I’m more inclined to trust the HR monitor than the app).
You can choose from 10 kcal and all the way up to 50’000 kcal.

Interval programs (PRO feature)
Interval Menu

Interval programs are a great form of working out, because it really gets your HR up, and it helps your cardiovascular system.
There are 3 predefined programs entered, when you download the app:
  • Standard program. You have a 5-minute low intensity warm up, followed by 6 intervals of 1-minute medium intensity and 1-minute low intensity (last low intensity interval is 5 minutes, for cooldown).
    • It is a good place to start, if you’ve never done any interval training before.
  • Pyramid program. Again you have a 5-minute low intensity warmup, before the intervals start. Then there are 7 high intensity intervals that become longer in duration until the peak on the 4th interval, before shortening. Between each high intensity interval, there is a 1-minute low interval, and again a 5-minute cooldown at the end.
    • It’s a good program to push yourself to the limit.
  • Tabata program. A very short cardio program, since it consists of 8 intervals of 20 seconds, each followed by a low intensity interval of 10 seconds. There isn’t any warmup or cooldown added to this program, so you’ll want to do that before and after choosing this workout.

When creating an interval program yourself, you have the option to name the program, add a description, and add 3 types of intervals; low, medium, and high intensities. When choosing the type of interval/intensity, you have the option to choose between time and distance. The distance intervals are 0.05 miles or 50 meters.
I use this for my interval training once a week.

Beat a Friend / Yourself

This gives you the option to beat a friends personal best, for example a Cooper's distance (12 min), or go against one of your previous workouts. 

Menu
Techie stuff
From the Menu you have the option to see the news feed; friends workouts, etc. and the History, where you can see all your previous workouts.

Graphs (PRO feature)

You have the option to view graphs with your lap times, heart rate, speed and altitude throughout the workout.

GPS connectivity

The GPS connectivity is quite good, at least where I live, but not perfect.
I did have a workout around spring last year (2012), where it had trouble locating me accurately, and bounced around a bit, and added 400 meters to my Cooper’s test, so I ended up deleting that from my history.
Since then there have been lots of updates to the app, and I have only experienced very few issues the last couple of months, but nothing noteworthy.
Battery life drainage
The continued use of GPS tracking does drain the battery, But have a “Low Power Mode” for longer workouts, though also decrease the GPS accuracy.
Personally I haven’t had an issue with my battery running out, but then again, my longest workout have been around 2.5 hours, and still had plenty of battery left (at least 50%)

Audio feedback

Settings Menu
Both the Free and PRO version have Audio feedback, but there is a difference.
The Free version only has 1 kind of frequency, every 1km or mile. It will tell you how far you’ve travelled, the duration, the lap time for the 1 km, and goal; the estimated finish time of your goal distance.
The PRO version have a few more settings; Lap speed, Heart Rate, HR Average, average speed / pace, and calories. The goal will also tell you the estimated distance of your time goal.
You have the option to toggle all these settings on or off. Personally I only use options available in the Free version, but I think, I will add the average speed / pace next time.

Auto Pause

This feature is not a favourite of mine. When stopping on a run, to cross a road e.g. the auto pause is 5-10 seconds delayed, but kicks in rather quickly. This means you’ll have some time, where you’re standing still, but time is still added to your workout duration.
It does, however, help you in the way that you don’t need to hit the pause button yourself every time you stop (if you want to pause your workout).

Step Counter (PRO feature)

Count steps for walking, hiking, and fitness walking. Never used it, so not sure how accurate this is.

Final notes
As mentioned earlier, I prefer the PRO version, but here is a total list of what the various versions include.

Free version - FREE (iTunes link)
History screen

  • Track any outdoor sport including duration, distance, speed and calories 
  • Get audio feedback for every mile or km while exercising 
  • Enter a workout manually, e.g., a treadmill run, spinning or weight training 
  • Check out the newsfeed with recent workouts and other activities done by your friends 
  • Send peptalks to your friends in real-time from the newsfeed (you write a message that is played aloud to them a few seconds later) and comment on their workouts 
  • Track your heart rate (works with ANT+ heart rate monitors and requires a Fisica Sensor Key, more info at store.endomondo.com) 
  • Set a distance goal and have the audio coach speak to that as your target 
  • Study routes nearby and use the map to navigate your way around 
  • View history of workouts and study routes and split times per km or mile 
  • Race against a friend's time and have the audio coach help you perform better 
  • Compete on a specific route nearby and race against the route champion 
  • Set the app to pause automatically when you are not moving 
  • Enable countdown (customizable) 
  • Customize the main screen to show the information that you find most valuable 
  • Share workouts on Facebook timeline
  • Use Facebook and/or phone book to hook up with friends on Endomondo 

PRO version - $4.99 (iTunes link)

Includes all the Free version features as well as:
  • Graphs: View graphs with your lap times, heart rate, speed and altitude throughout the workout 
  • Interval programs: Choose from 3 programs or create your own with time & distance intervals
  • Beat yourself: Set a previous workout as your goal and the audio coach will help you perform better this time 
  • Low Power Mode: Increase the battery standby time by using this feature for long workouts
  • Pedometer: Use the step counter feature to track workouts when you don't have GPS coverage, e.g., indoor (NEW)
  • Customized Audio Coach: Customize how often you get audio feedback and what information is read aloud to you (NEW)
  • Time goal: Choose a duration for your workout and the audio coach will help you reach the time goal 
  • Calorie goal: Set a calorie goal for your workout and the audio coach will guide you