Over recent weeks, the Runkeeper crew have been providing website updates at a pace. Some, such as Runkeeper Live, have been announced with lots of buzz. Others have been slipped in quietly without an official word of their availability (workout splits and the brand new ‘Routes’ feature).
Now it’s the turn of the Runkeeper Pro app to get some whizzy new features with the imminent availabilty of Runkeeper Pro 2.2.0.X (which is starting to reach regional App Stores).
I’ve been lucky enough to have been beta testing the new update (free to all Pro owners) for a few days and here’s my hands-on feedback.
Firstly, here’s the summary list of new features:
1. 15 second countdown
2. Improved GPS
3. Target pace
4. More configurable audio announcements
For users of Runkeeper Free, it’s likely that this version of the app will get 1 and 2 above within a few weeks. However, features 3 and 4 should give ample reason for you to upgrade to Runkeeper Pro!!
The first thing I noticed about the app was that it seemed to load quicker. This is great news as it means that you don’t have to wait around for so long before you can start your activity.
Let’s take a closer look at the new features:
1. 15 second countdown timer
If, like me, you use an armbelt, you’ll find it can take a few seconds after starting an activity before you have actually started to run (as you adjust the armband etc). To improve this situation, Runkeepr Pro now has a configurable 15 second countdown timer.
Simply enable the countdown in Settings and when you start your activity, Runkeeper will start a visual countdown, e.g. 15, 14, 13… (you get the idea). This leaves you with time to adjust your armband, shoe laces, etc etc before the ‘Start Activity’ announcement.
Enabling the countdown is done via Settings:
I find this really handy. Suggested improvements for future releases are to provide 15 or 30 second countdown, allow pause or cancelling of countdown, provide audio countdown so you can lock the screen and still have confidence of when the activity is starting.
2. Improved GPS – Runkeeper have been busy improving the quality of the GPS tracking particularly with regards zero speed issues that some users experience.
3. Target Pace – it’s now possible to set a target pace for an activity and for Runkeeper to announce (as part of the on-demand or periodic audio announcements) how far ahead or behind that pace you are. The announcement of the difference between actual average pace and target pace is in the form ‘you are behind your pace target by 1 minute and 12 seconds’. This is really handy when training and during a race (in fact it helped me get a PB in the Eastleigh 10K an the announcements created a mini-buzz from the runners around me!). It’s possible to set the target pace to the second for super accuracy.
However, I’m disappointed that you can only either set a training workout OR set a target pace. With RK 2.2.0, you can’t set a target pace for an activity you want to use a training workout for. I’m hoping this will be possible in next release.
Ultimately, I’d like to be able to set a target pace for each interval in a training programme. Also, it would be great to be able to see visually whether each split was ahead or behind target pace. For ease of use, it would be good to be able to define a distance and time target and for Runkeeper to workout the target pace Finally, an announcement of whether the target was met at the end of workout summary would be good.
4. More audio announcement configurability
With this update, it’s now possible to define what information is announced as part of the ‘on-demand’ or periodic activity stats announcements. The following can be included/excluded:
In addition, the frequency of announcements can now be configured more precisely both in terms of time and distance. Making the announcements more granular makes the target pace announcements even more useful. It’s no longer necessary to wait 1 mile/km or 5 minutes to hear your average pace and then work out whether you are ahead or behind pace, RK will now announce how close to your target pace you are it as frequently as every 1 minute/ 0.25 miles/km.
In my view, this is the best app update since Training Workouts were introduced last summer. It provides 2 or 3 of the most requested enhancements and is likely to please a lot of users.
The new features aren’t perfect and there’s definitely room for improvement (the Runkeeper team actively thrive on user feedback!) but this release is definitely going to create a positive buzz through the Runkeeper user community.