No way am I going to share my exercise results with anyone on Facebook. Honestly, who cares how far I just ran, or if I ran at all? Nor am I interested in competing against anyone to be the fastest or to run the furthest distance. And yet, I love (mostly) the revamped and free Nike+ Running app for iPhone, which makes all of the above possible and is, at long last, now available for Android phones. I checked out both the iOS and Android apps; the current iOS version is 4.0.2; the Android version is 1.0.2.
In 2006, Nike released its first run-tracker app, and it came preinstalled on the iPod nano. Since then, Nike has continued to extend and refine the app. Two years ago, Nike came out with the Nike+ GPS app for iOS, which no longer required you to wear a motion-activated Nike+ chip in (or attached to) your shoe to track distance, time, calories burned, and so on.
The latest version of Nike’s exercise app has been renamed Nike+ Running. It has a more refined interface that makes it easier to set up a new run, switch settings during a run (such as changing the music) and view stats on workouts when you’re done sweating. For example, while in Run Summary mode, rotating your device into landscape view now displays stats on a bar chart for visual feedback. Love that.
Nike also added a “Next Moves” feature to the app’s home screen that makes it easy to challenge yourself to beat your fastest 5K or run your furthest distance. Though I’m not interested in competing with others, I do like challenging myself to beat my own records, and the revamped app makes that easy.
There are a number of other nice new features, too. Thanks to your smartphone’s GPS, the app automatically knows and records the local weather conditions during your workout, which can help you remember that you ran so slowly last Tuesday because it was raining. As always, Nike+ Running syncs your data with the Nike+ website for even more tracking options.
Some new app features seem a bit gimmicky, however. You can now rate how you felt about a run, which is something I’ll probably never do. And you can ‘tag’ the Nike running shoes you’re wearing to track their total mileage, which I suspect is a subtle way for Nike to sell you new shoes down the road.
Though I realize the app is now called Nike+ Running, I wish it tracked steps for those times when I walk for exercise instead of run. (The Nike app on my current-generation iPod nano works beautifully as a pedometer.) I’d also like the app to automatically pause when I stop during a workout to, say, tie my shoes, and then to resume once I’m moving again. That’s a feature I like in the free Endomondo Sports Tracker app, which is available for iOS and Android. (There’s a $5 Endomondo Sports Tracker PRO app for Android, but in my experience it’s not worth the upgrade.)
Ultimately, Nike+ Running is sleeker and faster than ever before. And maybe if I keep using it, I will be, too.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.