Folks who exercise have a new reason to consider a Windows Phone 7 handset today as RunKeeper just launched on Microsoft’s mobile platform. The software, first available on iOS and later on Android devices, is useful to track nearly any type of recreational activity: running, cycling, skiing, or skating, to name a few. RunKeeper uses the GPS in a phone for real-time tracking and feedback, but also can be used for manual exercise entry. Along with the new platform launch, RunKeeper says it now has surpassed the 5 million download mark.
Although there are several competing applications, I’ve stuck with RunKeeper since I first reviewed it in late 2009. Back then, I was enamored by the GPS tracking, partially for my desire to have real-time pacing data, but also because of the Google Maps integration. Completing any activity with RunKeeper creates a map of the effort, along with speed and elevation information. I’m currently on a 67-day run streak, and I find RunKeeper to be an invaluable training log of my daily efforts.
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Since I normally run in the evenings, I haven’t put this new version through the paces on my Windows Phone 7 handset yet. However, just from my quick look, the application isn’t just a bare-bones approach. Even with this first iteration, I see activity history synchronization, interactive maps, route storage and the ability to broadcast my run to friends via Facebook and Twitter; something I do on long training runs and races. The mapping feature uses Microsoft’s Bing map platform, but it appears to be just as solid as the versions that use Google Maps on the phone.
RunKeeper may be one of the best recent examples of how developers can leverage the freemium model; the advanced version of the software used to be $10. However, RunKeeper went free for the month of January on a temporary basis and saw so many downloads that the company kept the app available at no charge going forward. The company offers a paid subscription service — of which I’m a paying customer — that provides additional insights into the captured data and graphs.
One quick note since someone is bound to ask about the lack of full multitasking on Windows Phone 7: The native Music app can run in the background. That means RunKeeper users can still listen to their own tunes, or those downloaded from Microsoft’s Zune service, while exercising.
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