Confessions of a Runkeeper Beta Tester

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to be selected as a beta tester for the Runkeeper app.

This means that once the Runkeeper team have finished working on a new release and tested it in-house, I’m one of the people that gets to put the app through its paces to try to identify bugs etc prior to it being released for all users via the App Store. I feel very privileged to have this role and take it very seriously.

I’ve been able to test some great new features of late and this afternoon received a tweet from Jason at Runkeeper that indicated that a new beta would soon be available. This was soon followed by a 15 second countdown to beta launch from RK’s Michael Sheeley. That gave me chance to prepare before starting out on my testing activity.

At the moment I’m on vacation but came prepared with a laptop installed with iTunes just in case a beta became available (had more than a strong hunch that this preparation wasn’t in vain!)

From Jason’s tweet to the receipt of the beta app wasn’t long (maybe 15, 20 or 30 minutes) and although the weather had taken a turn for the worse, I was determined to get some early feedback back to the Runkeeper team on the new features. So, with this goal in mind, I went out in pouring rain with my iPhone waterproofed as much as possible to test out the new features.

Unfortunately, I can’t share what the new features are other than to say that many, many users have requested 2 or 3 of them, and from that perspective, in my view, this is one of the best releases of the Pro app I’ve seen in the last 5 or 6 months. I’m sure that many will think the same when the app update reaches the App Store.

It didn’t take long before I was soaked through (luckily my phone wasn’t) and I could share my experiences with Jason about issues I’d encountered, improvements I thought could be made, etc. With regards the latter, I’m realistic in that although it would be great to include the suggested improvements in the app update, if the RK team implemented them for this release, it wouldn’t hit the App Store for quite some time and that would be a disappointment for all.

Runkeeper’s approach, which I think works well, is to add new features incrementally (each update typically includes 2, 3 or 4 new features) and they then wait for user feedback on what improvements would make the feature even better and gradually enhance features over a number of updates. This means that user feedback is vital (so keep it coming) but also that they don’t spend months implementing an ‘all-singing-all-dancing’ feature to find it’s completely misses the mark. I’m sure that Runkeeper want to maintain a good pace when bringing out new releases and the pace of those is right on target (IMHO).

Although I’ve only had time for limited real testing so far, I’m heading out for a run in the morning and will give the beta an even more thorough test then.

Can’t wait to use the new features during the Eastleigh 10K on Sunday.

Keep an eye out for the new version of Runkeeper Pro in a week or two. It’s well worth the wait!!

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