Garmin App Came Out Today – I’m Underwhelmed

Today, Garmin’s official iPhone app came out. It’s supposed to be used in conjunction with their new bike devices, but it works great on its own…if you believe what it does is great. However, from my point of view it is poop (that’s an IT term for underwhelming) compared to the unofficial iPhone app I reviewed yesterday (Goals Part 2 – and a Super App). That app is well worth the $0.99 investment, compared to Garmin’s free product.

Better reporting, better graphs, better mapping choices, just better all around. Garmin appears to spent the minimal amount of design effort, and time, to get an app out the door. But for 99 cents, download both and see for yourself. Then let me know which one you like, but commenting on this post.

Goals Part 2 – and a Super App

Like all of you who use DailyMile, I got a link to my prior year’s data. Only my prior year was just 4.5 months. But still, good info to look at when planning my 2013 campaign.

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I found another really nice app for both iPhone and iPad, that doesn’t let you enter any info, but rather presents your Garmin Connect data in some very nice ways. For instance, here is a graph of my swimming pace, over time.

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It gives you data summarized by the same running/swimming/cycling categories in Garmin, but has simple drill-down into a ton of data. Also gives you weekly and monthly totals for these three categories. Here’s a cool “heat map” of my last weekend run, showing cadence. You can see I started slow (a bunch of the beginning part of this loop is up hill – good for practice but bad for cadence) but then stayed green most of the way. It was a four mile run, and the red color at the end was my “give it everything you have left” sprint to finish after I had hit four miles.

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Go to the App Store, and enter Garmin Connect (there is a disclaimer about being not affiliated with Garmin in any way, but that’s how I found it), and you’ll see it costs $0.99 and can be downloaded to every IOS device you have.

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OK, I’m off to analyze all the data this app is giving me.

My Running Apps Ecosystem

I’ve been running for just less than three months, but as the name on the blog says, I’m an IT guy who likes gadgets. My gadget is my iPhone, and I have tried close to a dozen iPhone apps, and probably a half-dozen websites.

I had initially settled on RunMeter on my iPhone uploading to the dailymile website due to its mostly uncluttered interface, and the fact that my lap swimming could -gasp- actually be manually entered in yards on dailymile. There are a whole bunch of sites that wanted my laps entered in either miles or metric, and most US pools are in yards.

Dailymile has lasted several months now, but I have decided I want to get a chest strap heart rate monitor (Christmas is just around the corner), and dailymile doesn’t have the ability to let me really see the amount of data that a heart rate monitor can produce. I have spent a lot of time reading extensive product reviews on the DCrainmaker website – thank you so much, Ray. He got me looking at the TrainingPeaks website (I wish the entire site worked on an iPad, but they are still totally Adobe Flash based) because it can track my workouts AND my calorie intake. The DCrainmaker site also helped me decide to get the Wahoo Blue HR monitor which will pair with my iPhone (4s or 5) using the new BlueTooth LE specification instead of an ANT dongle.

On Saturday I ran across an iPhone app I had not looked at before, and after reading the reviews I paid for it. iSmoothRun is in the Apple App Store ($4.99 US) and has just helped me to create my own “running app ecosystem”.

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How BRILLIANT is this? iSmoothRun can use either a GPS signal or (because it learns your cadence when it can get GPS) it will also work indoors. It somehow takes your GPS coordinates and adds temperature, wind speed, and humidity to every run. It can upload to eight different websites, plus send an email, plus Twitter and FaceBook. And it tracks your cadence and can coach you on how to learn to use cadence more effectively.

So I am now uploading to dailymile, TrainingPeaks, and Garmin Connect, all at the same time, and can do a side-by-side comparison of my real data (I found out that you do not have to have a Garmin device to creat an account an upload data). This will be fun. Also, since I can upload to the RunKeeper website (which I find really cluttered, and their iPhone app won’t work inside) I do, just so it also downloads back to my Tactio Health app that I wrote about in September.

I ran my weekend long run (10k) using iSmoothRun this morning, hit finish, and my run showed up everywhere. I am impressed. I’m also happy that my 10k time today was 4 minutes faster than last week, but it’s only my second time running this distance, so who knows.

Updated 11/6/12:  One thing I have found so far is that iSmoothrun sends the weather data correctly to dailymile, but this info does not seem to transfer to Garmin Connect or TrainingPeaks.

Also, the more I try to use TrainingPeaks, the more I don’t like it. The Adobe Flash thing makes it both slow and buggy. Trying to track food is so slow it is painful. And then I can’t see it on my iPad anyway. I was hoping to replace manual calorie intake entries in my MyFitnessPal iPhone app, but I don’t see it happening.

Tech Guys Love Applications That Work Well Together

I have now signed up for, and looked at, a good half dozen iPhone apps and even more web sites that I can use to track my activities.

On the website tracking side, I think the Nike+ site is horrible (my opinion, others may love it), and both DailyBurn and RunKeeper seem to spend lots of screen space telling you about how the site would be cooler if you just upgrade. Dailymile, however, lets me track walking, running, swimming, cycling, and even add my own categories. There are some things I wish it did better, but I think it’s still better than anything else I’ve found out there. And it’s free, and doesn’t (so far) bug me to upgrade to a paid version. I also really like the Lifetime Stats that show me how many TV’s I have powered, and how many donuts I’ve burned, since I started exercising.

A lot of the iPhone apps I tried all depended on GPS to work, which is a problem because I’m still trying to make it around an indoor track before I venture outside to run. I kind of liked iTreadmill for all uses inside, but then RunMeter (which I already liked) just added an “indoor” setting so it is no longer worthless without GPS. RunMeter also connects nicely with dailymile, so I now have a winner!