OutSider App Tells You When the Weather is Right for Running

The Weather Channel's latest iOS app combines weather information and fitness tracking features. Outdoor exercisers will find a friend in OutSider, but it's not perfect, according to James A. Martin.

outsider app

The folks at The Weather Channel have come up with another cool app, OutSider, that's designed for weather geeks who are also runners, walkers, hikers and/or cyclists.

The Weather Channel integrated weather conditions with its free activity-tracking iOS app. (The app is not currently available for Android.) OutSider uses a Run Weather Index (RWI), a fancy name for a system that incorporates weather and "biometeorological" data to help you determine optimal times to run.

Let’s say you’re ready for a powerwalk. Fire up OutSider, and it displays an RWI number that shows the likelihood that your hike will be dry based on current weather conditions.

For instance, OutSider rated a partly foggy July afternoon in San Francisco as an "8." When I tapped on the RWI number, the app informed me of the temperature (61 degrees), humidity (81 percent), precipitation chance (0), winds (12 mph, westerly), air quality (good) and overall conditions (partly cloudy).

From there, I tapped the "Let’s Run" button and saw choices for a "Basic Run," "Distance Run," "Timed Run" and "Heart Rate." You can also adjust the parameters for each run. For example, "Distance Run" is set to a two-mile goal by default, but you can easily increase or decrease the distance.

What’s not to love? OutSider syncs with external heart-rate monitors, but the connection to my Alpha Mio heart-rate watch worked on some runs but not others.

The app has difficulty managing my iPhone’s playlists, too. Even though I selected my exercise playlist, it fed me all sorts of music, including classical tunes and podcasts. It was enough of a problem that I stopped using the app’s music control and just used my iPhone’s Music app instead.

Also, like the recently updated Fitbit app, OutSider doesn't pause automatically when you stop to tie your shoes or pick up a bottle of water at a convenience store. (Some other similar fitness apps, including my favorite, RunKeeper, automatically pause when you briefly stop your exercise.)

Overall, I like OutSider. It is particularly helpful for outdoor exercisers, because it shows the days over an upcoming week that are likely to be the best for running. I’ll probably check the app’s RWI conditions before I run — and then use RunKeeper to track my exercise.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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