UPDATE 2013: We have updated our list. Check here for the best Android Running Apps!
Android smartphones have gained incredible traction in the mobile market over the past two years. As the phones have surged in popularity, so has the market for running-based apps within the Android Market. Today there are countless apps geared toward casual runners, social runners, and stat geeks who look to take their phones along for the joy of a good run.
Taking full advantage of the flexibility and horsepower of the Android OS, apps are helping runners improve their times, keeping better track of their courses, and are even providing outlets for some friendly competition. These five apps are optimized to take full advantage of Android phones, allowing runners to make the most of their workouts in data-rich, user-friendly, and socially-integrated settings.
1. Runkeeper (Free)
Runkeeper’s popularity has exploded in the past year, based on its ever-improving GPS features, social media integration, fitness reports, and many other features which help runners analyze their activities from every angle. Released in 2009, the Runkeeper app provides users with the opportunity to create real-time GPS route maps, audio cues for distance and time, and input categories for non-running activities such as biking, swimming, and weightlifting. Using the phone app as a primary source for data entry and collection, users can then access a customized web page which shows a comprehensive activity history—users can track their monthly mileage, calories burned, average pace, average run length, and the number of calories burned. The website’s Street Team feature also allows users to sync their workout histories with friends and teammates, comparing progress and milestones. Runkeeper Races, a new feature on the web site, allows runners to add upcoming races to their accounts—keeping track of the results and accomplishments of fellow Runkeeper users. For runners who wish to take their personal stats a step further, Runkeeper Elite provides additional reports on personal progress and can generate customizable training plans. Elite membership also allows runners to be tracked by friends in real-time during workouts and races, adding a dynamic social element to every activity.
2. Runstar (Lite Version: Free; Pro Version: $5.31)
Runstar is among the first running apps to debut in the Android Market, and remains as a fan favorite due to its simple design and robust features. Similarly to Runkeeper, Runstar uses GPS data to track runs, providing course maps in addition to pace calculation and timing. Where Runstar differs from other apps, however, is its ability to set monthly training goals and the in-phone results page. Runstar’s intuitive design allows users to track their current activities, set new challenges, and monitor their progress without needing to leave the app—an attractive draw for runners who wish to have their information at arm’s length no matter where they are. Additionally, the inclusion of a built-in Mp3 player allows users to create customizable workout playlists and set a “Power Song” for an additional boost during a challenging run. In the Pro version, users can also monitor treadmill activities and set both distance- and time-based runs. Containing the entire user experience within a sleek, well-designed app provides a streamlined way of maintaining a training schedule, Runstar is comprehensive app for any runner.
3. Endomondo (Lite Version: Free; Pro Version: $4.34)
Endomondo is a powerful tool for runners as well as cyclists, hikers, and anyone who loves exploring the outdoors. Featuring a robust GPS tracking system, Endomondo also keeps track of distance, speed, altitude, and workout history. Additionally, the software can be used in tandem with heart rate monitors, and features “pep talks” for when the going gets rough. The Pro version of Endomondo features a “Low Power” mode, which boosts battery life during longer outings. Users can sync their accounts to Facebook or via email, adding a social aspect to running that helps friends keep track of activities and progress. Additionally, users can post challenges to users on their Endomondo friends page; challenges can range from time trials, to individual races, and even cumulative challenges which push runners to be the first among their friends to hit certain distances per week. Endomondo helps runners stay motivated through workout mixes, pep talks, and through the spirit of friendly competition.
4. CardioTrainer + Racing (Lite Version: Free; Racing Add-on: $2.99)
CardioTrainer is a multifaceted app that keeps track of runs, workouts, races, and overall fitness. Like the other apps featured, CardioTrainer features a GPS for runs and outdoor activities. Unlike its competitors, however, the app also features a pedometer and an auto-pause feature. By recognizing when a user is not moving, the app can automatically pause and resume workouts—a useful feature for any runner interrupted by opposing traffic or pit stops mid-workout. Additionally, the app features robust add-ons like Racing—allowing users to race against their best times, Weight Loss Trainer—a customizable diet plan for users looking to trim pounds, and Move Your Bot—an add-on which tracks activities and uses workouts in a fun, challenging game against friends and fellow users. While CardioTrainer features all the bells and whistles included in other running apps, the program also includes fun, informative, and off-beat add-ons to make even the most mundane recovery run a little more fun.
5. Softrace (Free)
Softrace is a unique racing app for Android which focuses on the thrill of competition and the challenge of endurance sports. Allowing users to track running, biking, and skiing activities among others, Softrace allows users to challenge nearby users, as well as themselves. In “Practice” mode, users can maintain a digital exercise log of runs, distances, and average paces. In “Challenge” mode, users can build customized race tracks, use Google Maps to find existing tracks, and challenge friends to compete in a virtual race along the created routes. In “Racing” mode, users can find and challenge nearby Softrace runners, can challenge opponents of a similar pace, and race against their own personal bests. While many running apps include a social element to their networks, Softrace takes a defiant and challenging tact to their social elements—making each workout a challenge.