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Mobile Tech Minutes — RunKeeper Pro for iPhone

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As an avid runner, I went out and bought a Nike+ sensor as soon as I upgraded my original iPhone to a 3GS. That solution worked OK, but I think it’s lacking for me in some areas: it has to be calibrated for accuracy, works only with certain shoes and can only be used for running or walking activities. Looking for something to compensate for those limitations, I found RunKeeper in the iTunes App Store. There’s a free version and a $9.95 RunKeeper Pro version. At half the price, I find RunKeeper Pro to be a far better value than the Nike+ sensor because of its flexibility and fewer restrictions.

In this video, I show you what the application looks like and talk about how it works by using the GPS in your handset. Some have complained that the application eats up your phone’s battery too fast, but I simply turn my iPhone display off, which helps tremendously. I did an hour-and-a-half bike ride with the application and only used up around 25% of my battery. Oh, that’s right — you can use this for cycling, which is something else I like to do. You can’t do that with a Nike+. After showing you the application, I share a walkthrough of the online tracking and logging that’s done automatically. It offers a great summary of workouts and dives into some details for those that want more.

26 Responses to “Mobile Tech Minutes — RunKeeper Pro for iPhone”

  1. Melissa Morrison

    Hi Kevin,

    I recently purchased the Verizon Android but desperately want to find an app that is similar to RunKeeper. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    So. California

  2. Melissa Morrison

    Hi Kevin,

    I recently purchased the Verizon Android but desperately want to find an app that is similar to RunKeeper. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    So. California

  3. My problem with RunKeeper is that I live in Oregon where it rains 8 months of the year. I put in some serious miles on the treadmill and a GPS-based solution is useless for that. At least Nike+ allows me to keep track of both road runs and treadmill runs.

    • You’re right — manual entry is missing from RunKeeper right now. I see that request asked for quite a bit in the forums, so hopefully it appears soon. I’ll actually have the same issue once I take my road bike to the basement in a few weeks. In the cold weather, I use the bike on a trainer and won’t be able to log my workouts.

  4. Steve Watts

    Are you able to keep the iphone in your pocket and still have it track through GPS or do you need an arm band or something that keeps the line-of-site to satellite going?

    I use a the garmin forerunner, but if I could get by with the iphone that would be one less device.

    Great video. Thanks!

  5. Michael Hunter

    I tried runkeeper with my 3G 6 months ago or so. I mostly trail run in the forest and the GPS coverage is just too spotty to be useful. My Garmin also has issues although it works better. Have you tried the 3GS on a trail run and/or in forested areas? Is the GPS reception any better then the 3G?

    • I never owned the iPhone 3G, so I can’t comment on the GPS. I had an original iPhone for two years and then upgraded to the 3GS. I’m also a road runner, not a trail runner. However, the bike ride I used in the example has some reasonably long stretches under a mild canopy of trees. Miles 2 and 3 in particular on that route. Maybe you can get a better idea by looking at the satellite map of that route to see the tree cover:

  6. Certainly a nice option for some, albeit completely useless for me. First off, GPS might not always be the most stable option, as well as using a lot more power than Nike+. Then you have the lack of multitasking and everything, which while not runkeepers fault only means they should have integrated music browsing. I listen to podcasts and audiobooks while using Nike+, which isn’t a problem, but if I finished a podcast with this thing I couldn’t find a new one without exiting the program. I wish Nike+ would come out with a bike kit to hook up as well, then nike+ would be perfect in my opionion (btw, you dont need special shoes, just tape). For me personally this program has a lot more limitations than nike+ ever did.

    • Personally, I would be happy spending the money on an iPhone just to use Runkeeper. It’s that good. I use it for bicycling and I haven’t experienced a single stability issue with GPS here in central California. I’ve rode 1102.17 mi in 60 events since August 16, 2009, the day I fell in love with Runkeeper. There is no way I would have rode that much without RK either. It’s truely inspirational to log every activity. As far as multitasking goes, only one other thing I do while I’m riding my bike and that’s listen to music. I am a music junkie. That’s why I have 160GB iPod I use solely for listening to music. iPhone and iPod make a great pair for me. Runkeeper is a dream come true. I can not praise this program enough.

  7. I wish there was as good an app for Android, I gave up on a 3gs after the thirty day trial period for the HTC hero and the great plan rates of Sprint. I tried runkeeper in that time and it was great, I have downloaded cardiotrainer but haven’t had a chance to try it yet.