SBD/April 15, 2014/Media

App Review: Nike+ Running For iPhone Goes Far Beyond Basic GPS Tracking

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Crafted with all levels of runners in mind, Nike+ Running for iPhone brings much more than just a GPS-based performance-tracking device. Custom training programs, social competition and a sleek mobile shopping experience make this app a must-try for runners. Nike+ Running for iPhone uses MotionX, a sensor-based technology, to track movement and log user activity within the app. Users can log into the app using an existing Nike+ account, via Facebook or by creating a new account. Once inside, the run tracker displays user stats including number of runs, average pace and average NikeFuel value (an activity metric universal to Nike+ devices). Once a run is logged, a user profile tracks running level (based on a set scale), farthest run and longest run. All saved runs can be tapped to show full detail including time, estimated calories burned, distance and NikeFuel value. An activity section displays a list of all past runs logged within the app. For runs that are completed sans app, details can be entered manually. Users are encouraged to add or invite their friends into the app for friendly competition or support in achieving their goals. Once friends are added, their Nike+ runner profiles are viewable and statistics are broken out by each of their Nike+ devices (Running app, FuelBand, etc.). With competition in mind, the app prompts users to challenge their friends to a race or a goal. A challenge can consist of up to 100 friends. It can last for up to 1,000 miles or one full year. A Coach feature provides runners with a weekly race-training program. Race details can be entered into this section, and the app delivers a program to help runners prepare for an upcoming race. Among other things, users can set push notifications, run reminders and auto-voice feedback in the settings section. They also can shop Nike via an in-app mobile storefront that showcases gender-specific merchandise upon launch. Nike+ Running for iPhone is a free download with no advertising. I conducted this week’s review on an iPhone 5 version 7.1, with AT&T service.

RUNNERS' HIGH: The GPS-based run tracker is in itself very impressive, but of course the app does not stop here. Social features are spread throughout the app that both motivate and entertain. While a user is logging a run, he or she can share progress to Facebook or Path. Each time someone likes or comments on one of these posts, a cheer is heard by the runner. When creating a challenge or training program, the app pre-populates a Nike branded message beneath the user's post that can be shared to Facebook, Twitter or Path. The app swiftly connects to the user's song library, allows the creation of custom playlists and encourages the selection of "power songs" for those challenging moments during a race or a run. The Coach program offers a great way to maintain a training regimen for an upcoming race, and finally, the app tracks the mileage on running shoes -- a great way to decide when to purchase a new pair. Oh wait, that can be done instantly right within the app.

CRAMPING UP: Technically speaking, it is tough to criticize this app. However, for indoor runs, GPS tracking is not super accurate. The app appears to measure pace by the "bouncing" of the device, so these statistics have the potential to be all over the map. The app does display weather information during a run, but it would be nice to see a running-centric weather forecast. Instructional videos, running tips and local race information would also be nice additions.

FINISH LINE: Equipped with a fabulous GPS-based run tracker and social tools for sharing, motivating and competing, Nike+ Running for iPhone is sure to impress both casual and serious runners. The app leverages social media, making an individual challenge seem like a social event. It also capitalizes on the strengths of the iPhone by pulling in features like song playlists. Clearly, Nike knows running -- and technology, too.

Amie Sheridan (amie.sheridan31@gmail.com) is a freelance writer in Philadelphia.

See Sheridan's previous App Review submissions for THE DAILY:
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