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Runkeeper – 4 things to improve with the mobile Android app

Oh Runkeeper , I love you so, but I need you to change your habits

Runkeeper has proved to be one of the most helpful pieces of software that I have ever used.  At its heart, it does what anyone interested in fitness wants – it motivates you to workout on a regular basis.  The ingenious way in which it is designed allows you to keep tabs on your friends which  keeps it interesting and helps to give it users a sense of accountability knowing that others are watching how often and how much they workout.

Runkeeper, for all of its strengths, still has some eccentricities that probably should be fixed by now.  For what it’s worth, I use if on a Galaxy S4 Active running a release of Android 4.  Here is a short list.

  • Manually entering an activity.
    • On some days, I just can’t get outside to workout.  As depressing as this it, Runkeeper adds a little injury to insult by not being smart about the equipment that it thinks I used.  If I got on a stationary bike on Tuesday, when I finish using an elliptical on Thursday, Runkeeper assumes that I used the elliptical while also somehow doing it on a stationary bike.  I think it would be safe for Runkeeper to assume that, while using the elliptical, I was not also using a stationary bike.  Runkeeper should be smart enough to not require me to select the piece of equipment that I used if it is obvious by which activity I choose.
  • Too easy to delete an activity
    • On more than one occasion, I have accidentally torched an activity before I saved it.  Imagine this scene, you complete a  wonderful run while you are on vacation.  The setting is idyllic – running through a seaside village, uphill the whole way,  people cheering you one, sea spray in your nostrils.  You can’t wait to look at the run on your PC when you get back on to receive some adoring comments from all of your friends that are vicariously exercising through you.  When you finish, you take your sweaty hand and fat finger the screen.  You scream in horror as you realize that you accidentally pressed yes when it is asking you if you are sure you want to delete.  “Noooooo!  How could this happen to me?!?  Life is not fair!!!  Wa ha ha.”  Runkeeper should offer an undelete function to help prevent this type of travesty.  Life, at least for this fictional character, would be a much better.
  • Elevation change exaggerated
    •  If you are a hill runner, one of your favorite stats is the coveted elevation change.  It is fun to use the “Graph” function on your phone to look back and see how many feet you climbed.  However, after completing a run with my Android phone, the elevation change will often be much great than the “actual” elevation change.  My guess is that this is from the GPS elevation readings varying slightly each time they are taken.  This could lead to changes adding up where there really aren’t any.  After posting these runs online, the elevation seems to get “smoothed” out, with a much smaller number.  Why can’t this processing be done on board the my mobile phone?  With the power of the mobile processors, it seems like this should be able to be bone.
  • Trail run setting
    • If you have ever been on a trail run in the hills, you know that it is significantly harder than running the same distance on the road.  The same is true for mountain biking vs. road cycling, although probably more pronounced on bike.  RunKeeper has the option to specify whether or not you went mountain biking or cycling, but you can’t do the same for running vs. trail running.  It would be nice to have a trail running option.  This would allow you to track speeds and frequencies for this variety of running as it is quite different than the road.