App Re-Review: SmartRunner | webOS Nation

App Re-Review: SmartRunner 24

by Derek Kessler Tue, 21 Feb 2012 8:02 pm EST


Every platform suffers from abandonware - apps that are released, do well, and then aren't updated to reflect changes in user expectations, device APIs, and back-end services. Platforms like webOS and BlackBerry suffer from a rather high rate of abandonware thanks to the turmoil that has enveloped each platform. Developers have to put food on the table, so if they're not making money making apps for a specific platform, we can't say we blame them for moving on to greener pastures.

But February is Fitness Month here on webOS Nation and the Mobile Nations network of sites, so we're taking a look at fitness apps new and old, good and bad. We already looked at JogStats, a rather basic and straight-forward run-tracker, and today we're going to put what should be a powerhouse app - SmartRunner - under the review microscope.

If you noticed the opening paragraph about abandonware and the "should" in the preceding sentence, you've probably got a good idea of where this review is headed. The big selling point for SmartRunner when it was released was its integration with their online database. You could upload your routes and statistics to their servers and then hop online to check out your progress over time, set goals, and all that fancy stuff.

But today, something somewhere along the line was changed and the webOS SmartRunner app was never uploaded. Without the ability to sync runs to the server, SmartRunner on webOS no longer has a memory. It's a running version of Memento. Amusingly, SmartRunner still does allow you to create an account with the service, but that's all you can do online-wise with the app.

Fire up SmartRunner and you're presented with a two-panel screen. The upper light blue portion lists the current temperature (of which you should probably already have a pretty good idea, being that a GPS-reliant running tracker requires you to be outside), your average speed, the calories you've burned on this run, how far you've run, and how long you've been running. The bottom dark blue half is dominated by a big green Start button, GPS accuracy readout (cool, but in the grand scheme not terribly useful - what's 30 feet when you're running a few miles?), and buttons to go to the Home screen (where you are right now), your track data, and More, which merely allows access to your Profile and the Preferences - options that are already available via the app menu. There's also a not-immediately obvious running man icon to the right of the Start button, seeing as it's the SmartRunner icon, it's not clear that tapping that is how you choose your activity, be it Running, Nordic Walking, Motorcycling (a good way to burn calories, we're told), or horseback riding.

One you hit start you should throw the phone in your pocket and take off, as SmartRunner, like practically every other run tracker, starts tracking immediately. How hard would it be to set a five second delay so you have time to put the phone away, and being as this is February and your reviewer lives in Ohio, put on that glove you had to take off to use the screen? Doesn't seem like it'd be that hard. This isn't really a knock against SmartRunner, but more a knock against running apps on the whole.

After hitting start, the app begins tracking as accurately as it can and puts in a distractingly iPhone-styled slider to stop the tracking. Nowhere else does the app so drastically offer iOS cues, and it doesn't really make sense to do so here. Amusingly, swiping the stop bar, which would have to be a rather deliberate action, prompts you to Resume or Stop (are you sure?). Hit Stop and SmartRunner will prompt you to upload your route to the server. Hit Upload and you'll get nothing out of it. Hit Later and you'll get an equal amount of nothing, as SmartRunner doesn't store a lick of data about your run on the device.

Throughout this you can count on a slew of meaningless error codes that you can't dismiss, especially if you happen to hit one of the Sync buttons strewn throughout the app. As a one-shot run tracker, SmartRunner's not bad. But the idea of marrying the pedometer with the smartphone was that you could log this data. This time last year we could have recommended SmartRunner - it looked the same but was fully functional and integrated well with their system. Today we can't even recommend it as a free app, let alone the $0.99 they're asking for this abandonware software in the App Catalog. It's a shame, really. SmartRunner used to be and still could be something good. But it's not, so you're best turning to other options like JogStats.


Hmmm... No comments?

I went on two bike rides over the weekend and had no problems uploading my data. Maybe something changed in the last 3 days, but I have not had problems........ I just checked, and on my Sprint Pre I can pull up all my data from the last 2 years. And it still syncs perfectly even now. I have version 2.1.7

Just walked around the house. Easy to upload and retrieve on Pre and online. Derek, what went wrong for you?

it's cause you're on the original pre. whatever they did with new versions clearly doesn't work. the link below to the forum also had this post from the company. "We were told that we don't support problems arising from new webOS versions or devices. That was the decision our management came up. "

Based upon jwbekens review, this may not really be abandonware...

But it does set off a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Why doesn't HP remove apps that are 'abandonware'? Such as Dailymotion? Or MediaFly? Whats the point in having the listed, if it won't work?

I had the no upload error, which instantly erased the run/walk I just completed. Infuriating when you are trying to stick to a weekly plan! Coupled with flaky GPS in the Southern Hemisphere, I gave up on the Pre and bought an N9 instead. Sports tracker works a treat on this platform. And on a side note, multitasking works just as well as webOS too......big disappointment Nokia dropped Meego.

Their forum says they've officially dropped support for webOS. :-(

Is the app trying to Jedi mind trick me?

OK. It still works with webOS 1.4.5 but that seems to be it. But at least the version I have still syncs.
My biggest disappointment with webOS, especially on my TouchPad, it the lack of support for Citrix Receiver.

Oh, well. This remains emblematic of the problems with lack of devices and lack of OS development in the short term.

They had issues updating the app for 2.1 and now with 2.2.4 I guess they got tiered of fixing issues caused by OS updates - every time. And this is what the stated in their own forum 2 posts above.

This app works fine on Veer.
it does not work on Pre3.
it shows speed twice & does not show distance.
A great app turned worthless.

waz good

Here are some quotes apparently from customer support in their forum:
"We have made the decision what we don't longer support and maintain the webOS Smartrunner app. The unsure future of webOS led us to this decision...We see the future in iPhone, Android and Windows Phone primary."

"SmartRunner will continue to work on WebOS up to v2.1.2, though. From v2.1.2 on we can no longer guarantee complete functionality of SmartRunner. One solution would be to downgrade your WebOS-Version to v2.1.2 to continue using SmartRunner. The Pre 3 is not supported at all."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 9:20:52 AM "We already requested HP for the suspension of the app...We really tried to make it work with all devices and the former versions of WebOS until v2.1.2. But the uncertain future of WebOS, the few downloads and the great effort it takes each time there is a new version of WebOS led us to the decision to stop."

Really a good app, it was supposed to do exactly what I wanted it to do. But, simply not working on my pre 3...
Why, instead of abondióning it, they do not give it to the comunity? I mean, With the post from yesterday I was able to fix the "bottom-black-bar-issue" all by myself (it looks great now - even though that it does not work), and I am sure within some days, comunity programers would fix all the problems.
I know that the problem here is other, rather lack of Hardware, therefore peopple using the software (both WebOs and the apps), but I think that developers should really consider best supporting their apps. If I turn into a Android system in the future (only If I can not have any pre 3 spare parts or spare phone), I will not buy or download their app. I know they need to make profit, thats the reason of any company in this world, but Customer satisfaction, at any level and platform, is something unpayable.

Why, instead of abondióning it, they do not give it to the comunity?

Because it is their app. It likely represents a significant investment on their part. Perhaps in the future they can leverage that work and apply it to another platform. It is not their fault webOS is in the state it is currently in, why should they "give away" their property as a result?

You deciding to not "buy or download their app" on another platform is a perfectly valid choice, but I wouldn't necessarily call it a reasonable one based on the current situation. HP pulled the rug out from under you and developers with their poor decisions and here you are making it seem like it's the developer that is urinating on "Customer satisfaction".

There are several possible reasons but one basic one is that they own the app. But it's an app that has their name all over it, made by them, and to give it away means they are letting an app that represents them be controlled by other people with no clue what they'll do with it. Maybe they hate google and some developer wants to allow the app to interface with gmail or google docs or something. How i don't know as i don't use the app. I'm talking theory here. It doesn't matter what what the thing is it's a risk when you let others have control over something you put your business name on. The practical matter is they could strip all that out and anything they don't want in it and give that to "the community" but if updating it was more work then they wanted doing that is clearly more work then they wanted. Because what they wanted to do was nothing. So anything more then nothing is probably too much.

As for not buying it on another platform that's your right but honestly they don't care. They were willing to lose you now. You think they care if some time in the future you'll come back to them. And honestly, if as they stated, "there weren't enough downloads" they aren't gonna really see a material hit from losing a few webos users off a dollar or so app.

I'd disagree with the line "i know profit...but customer satisfaction." It's all about the bottom line. Profit is the point. And it's not like were are talking about a company choosing profit over working conditions or endangering customers. They are choosing profit over not profiting. Customer satisfaction? I sympathize with people that don't have a working app anymore but the satisfaction of a small number of customers is not that important given i'm sure what they make off of android and ios users.

I mean i had a pre minus on sprint. I long ago got over "getting abandoned." Long ago many apps just stopped getting updated or just stopped working.

You have to give Derek credit - coming here everyday and trying to write an article around a flat-lined platform must be pretty difficult - how long before we get re-review of the box that the touchpad came in?

I LOVE this app !!! I use it all the time when I go for runs/jogs etc. Helps me keep a record of everything I do. Simply a great app :)

this app works so good on my veer, a real pity they dropped support.

I take my running quite seriously and I have to say all this talk of JogStats being "basic" is uncalled for!

What exactly is so basic about it? The only negative mentioned is the so-called lack of an online back-end.

Fortunately with JogStats, you can still view your runs online (saving them "to the cloud" if you prefer the fancy lingo).

Simply export and e-mail the GPX file to yourself (which the app makes very easy). Then import the GPX file to your preferred online tracker... I use RunKeeper.
Done... now your run is logged online and you can do all the fancy stuff RunKeeper offers up.

With the state of webOS as is (see: abandonware), and "online back-ends" being unsupported, an app like JogStats that works offline with options to move data online if you want to is actually in some respects more advanced than these so-called powerhouse apps.

For those wanting to give Smartrunner a try: you should try installing the older 1.x Version via Preware. This works well on my Preplus with WebOS 2.1.0 while the newer version from the official App Catalog fails with various error messages...

However you should resist if it lateron asks to perform an update... ;-)

HP earnings out by the way.

This is a great app that is rendered completely useless by Verizon's crippling of GPS on the Pre+. The few times I've been able to hang on to a GPS signal through the various workarounds, it's been fine - otherwise you just end up running with an oversize stopwatch. However, on my "best" run I made it to the middle of Long Island Sound and back at 168mph! Boy, was I tired!

Another amazing app that i use every day is iGPS =>
Cheaper and with more features such as trace your route on a map, compass, ....
Give it a try

Just finished field testing of the new running app, Running Buddy by Disciple Skies Software. It has an amazingly accurate odometer (validated against Garmin Trail GPS) and reports all useful running data. Love how data is easily saved and has a terrific summary report for all runs. Has some nice extras like an off road trail tracing and GPS tracking data. I've tried several other running apps. . Running Buddy is by far the best.