RunKeeper-Logo.jpgAfter using Nike Plus for several years, totaling almost 4,000km, I recently decided to switch to RunKeeper. I would have done it sooner, but one major feature of Nike Plus was holding me back: accelerometer-based tracking -- a feature that it not available with RunKeeper. I used Nike Plus with my iPod Touch, which doesn't have GPS, and RunKeeper needs GPS to work. After I received my iPhone 5, that all changed and I could finally give RunKeeper a try.

What is Wrong with Nike Plus

Nike Plus is full of bugs and each new version introduces new bugs. The old bugs sometimes get fixed, but many persists through several updates. One of the big problems is that it is very easy to tell that they don't beta test the app with actual runners. One example is that at the end of each run, and "ERROR" message appears saying that I am not connected to the Internet. As mentioned, I used an iPod touch and its pretty rare that when a runner stops running that they will be connected to WiFi at that location -- I tend to stop my runs before I enter my home. And this error prompt shows up three times, not once, in a row. First of all the lack of an Internet connection is not an error at all -- yes, I understand that the app wants to sync with Nike Plus servers, and the runner may want that as well -- but its not an error, its something that can easily wait until the next time the app connects. Over 80 million iPod Touches are out there, and Nike Plus knows that they are used with their app. Clearly they don't have anyone testing it.IMG_2274.PNG New Features also make it clear that the product design is not be directed by actual runners, like the change where the app suddenly switched from announcing "current pace" to "average pace" -- with average pace being the simple calculation of you average pace since you started your run -- so you can forget using it for interval training or any other run where you intentionally change your pace for different segments of your run -- gone was the ability to learn what your current pace was. I could go on...

RunKeeper Impressions

RunKeeper is better is just about every respect. Apart from an initial bug connecting to my new Wahoo Blue HR heart rate monitor (now fixed), I haven't encountered any bugs. Features clearly make a lot more sense and you can tell they stem form actual runners experiences and training needs. There are a ton of options for what types of audio cues you will receive when running, including either or both "current pace" and "average pace". The Web UI is also better than Nike Plus, and while I currently have few "friends" on RunKeeper, the social features seem decent (btw, I can be found on RunKeeper at http://runkeeper.com/user/markcarey/). And of course the GPS mapping of runs is pretty cool -- Nike Plus has this feature as well but never used it as I couldn't with my iPod Touch. The one key feature missing from RunKeeper is accelerometer-based tracking -- if they added that feature I bet they would get a lot of new users from among those 80+ million iPod Touches out there (plus I could use it for treadmill runs).