App Review: SmartRunner | webOS Nation
 
 

App Review: SmartRunner 11

by Riz Parvez Fri, 08 Apr 2011 3:00 pm EDT

As spring begins to hit its stride with longer days and warmer weather, fitness enthusiasts in the northern climes finally get to resume outdoor activities like walking, running and cycling. If you’re into the outdoors, and are looking for a good app to help you monitor your fitness, or map your travels and share your experiences through social media, SmartRunner is an app that’s probably right up your alley.

After launching SmartRunner, you’re prompted to create a profile which links you in to their website, Smartrunner.com. After setting up, you’re met with the customizable tracking interface. Here you can select the type of event, and view and abundance of realtime tracking information, including speed (current, average, and max), calories used, altitude, distance, pace (current and average), and time. It even has basic weather info available at a glance. A button with a with a small angle bracket along the edge of the screen in the middle switches you back and forth from the data screen to a live, zoomable map with satellite view.

Along the bottom of the screen are large buttons to return to the main interface, view old tracks (complete with a ton of stored data), and edit your settings.

The track history view gives you a summary graph of your activity with a list beneath of your previously recorded tracks, organized by month and year. The tracks listed are selectable, allowing you to view maps or details of specific tracks, resume an old track, and post details to Facebook, Twitter, or Smartrunner.com. It’s a ton of really useful information that’s presented in a visually appealing way, but it’s not without a few minor flaws. Most noticably, the graphing data often aren’t centered on the screen, causing results to overlap with the axes or run off the screen.

Despite this, SmartRunner’s UI is one of the most attractive I’ve seen in a webOS app, and a lot of thought was put in to making it as functional as it is beautiful. Data is presented cleanly and in large font, making it easy to reference in the middle of an activity. Also thoughtful, a slide gesture is necessary to stop the app when it’s tracking, minimizing the of an errant tap messing up the works while you’re on the go. Another nice feature, SmartRunner will has built in audio to notify you of distance, max speed, average speed, and time, all at selectable intervals. Slick. And that’s just the part that’s on your phone.

With the convenience of cloud-based backup present in so many great apps for webOS, it’s difficult for me to justify the repeated effort logging information on my handset if there’s no way to back it up. Fortunately, SmartRunner has a very robust backup system through their website. There, you can store and recover information about the tracks you’ve recorded, but that’s just the beginning. For each track, you can can view fullscreen maps with point-by-point analysis of your your distance, speed, elevation and time. Want to drill down and just focus on how your performance through a tricky section of a race track, or a really tough uphill on your run? This is the site for you. You can also add your own points of interest and see your routes on Google Earth if you want. Very cool stuff.

The website also allows you to customize the experience on your phone to greater degree by selecting from an absurdly long list of different activities for logging. Just check off the activities you’re into, then sync the new activities to your phone and you’re good to go.

If you do run into issues with the app, or just want to share your experiences with other SmartRunners, the site has it’s own forum with subgroups based on your mobile OS of choice. There can connect with other users and get tech support if you need it.

There are some rough edges present in the website as well, however. As a globally available site there are some language issues present (Einstellung?), even with English as the selected language. Also, some of the data, like ‘Time (moving)’ don’t make any sense.

All told, the application works very well in day-to-day use. I’ve used it for tracking runs, commutes, and one epic interstate roadtrip, and while it’s not as precise as a dedicated GPS device, it’s turned out solid performance each time. It’s always terrific to find an app that delivers so much for so little, and SmartRunner is easily among the top in that regard. Even if you don’t run, the app is a fun way track and share all sorts of outdoor activities. It’s available now in the app catalog for $2.99 in Pro form, with a free version available as well.

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