Gear Review: RunKeeper for iPhone 3G

runkeeperYes, I know, my fixation with all things GPS-enabled is becoming a bit of a bore. But after previously rubbishing the GPS abilities of the iPhone, I feel duty-bound to set the record straight with a mini-review of the RunKeeper application for the iPhone 3G and 3Gs.

And yes, I do mean ‘mini-review’, because this app is so simple that it really doesn’t leave much to be said about it.

While none of the other running apps I’ve tried on the iPhone really cut the mustard, RunKeeper seems to do exactly what it says on the tin.

All you have to do is turn off wi-fi, launch RunKeeper and then wait a minute or so for the iPhone to acquire a couple or three satellites.

You then see a ‘Start’ button, that, well, starts your run. And when you’re finished, you press the cunningly titled ‘Stop’ button.

It’s then possible to either view a map of your run on the iPhone, or to simply log into the website, where you can view the map, as well as information about pace and elevation.

All this is available with the free RunKeeper app, and if you pay a paltry £5.99 to upgrade to the pro version, you even get pace and time information fed into your headphones while you’re running.

The Techy Bit

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know what a massive fan I am of the Garmin 405CX, for being such an all round wonderful and comprehensive tool for runners. Thing is, a Garmin will cost you the fat end of £300.

GPSWhile the RunKeeper Pro app is just £5.99, and even shouts to you over the sound of appalling 80s rock to tell you how you’re doing (well, it does on my iPhone anyway).

It’s also simple to use and has been pretty much 100% accurate so far.

But just in case all this simplicity and user-friendliness is sending you to sleep, and you want to indulge in a few impetuous moments of techno-gadget madness with me, may I refer you to the clever little .gif above.

This is a working diagram of what satellites are doing in space to help keep the super-simple RunKeeper app on target while you run.

Crazy isn’t it? All that space hardware devoted simply to telling me that I’m a middle-aged salad-dodger who really should be able to run faster after all these years…

The Big Self-Important Verdict

5 jelly baby ratingAs is usual in these cases, all that’s left to do is give a final verdict on RunKeeper. And for something this simple, cheap and effective, it really has to get top marks.

So if you’re an iPhone user and a runner, I think you need a really good reason not to try RunKeeper, then spend that measly £5.99 to upgrade to the pro version and get the added bonus of spoken updates while you run.

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2 thoughts on “Gear Review: RunKeeper for iPhone 3G

  1. How would you compare this to Nike+ which is about £15 and sounds like it does much the same with a few extra bangs and whistles?

    • Well, I loved my Nike+ when I got it. It’s very user-friendly. What it isn’t, unfortunately, is accurate. As even after calibrating mine in the nerdiest way possible, it was still overestimating distances on long runs by up to 20%, thanks to the shortened stride you take when you’re really tired. So while I occasionally miss the Nike+ ‘Power Song’ feature, and even Paula Radcliffe’s dulcet tones congratulating me on a good run, I prefer the accuracy of RunKeeper. The GPS ensures that you’re never kidding yourself about the distance you’ve run, or the splits you ran over each mile. Sadly, once you’ve tried GPS, there’s no going back.

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