After a month of long days and nights working on the update, I’m happy to say that the update for the WalkJogRun app is available in the app store. I completely overhauled the app for iOS 7 making it easier to read (on the go), easier to use and bigger, brighter content. Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll find.
I believe that fixing the bugs in the app should always take precedence over adding new shiny, potentially breakable things to our app and the site so I wanted to start with what is fixed:
- Support for Google Maps – I know a lot of you still prefer Google Maps, especially the terrain views or bicycle routes, so when they stopped working on iOS 7 I heard from a lot of unhappy campers. This is not only fixed in the new release but also should load faster since we’ve taken advantage of some new ways to load the tiles more efficiently made possible by iOS 7.
- Searching for locations is working again. If you’ve searched for Paris, Nevada or even your own zipcode lately from within the app, you’ve probably noticed that the location search feature stopped once you installed iOS 7. Again, we’ve upgraded the way we do that and the result is that it works even better than before showing you all of Paris if you searched for Paris, or 1/4 mile radius around the Eiffel Tower if you were being more specific.
I always get a lot of requests for how the app might be improved and I love to hear your ideas. I can’t tackle everything all at once so I try to balance the most popular requested upgrades to existing features along with support for new devices. Here’s the stuff that made the list this time.
Apple surprised us developers on September 10th when they announced a cool new feature for the iPhone 5S – a motion tracking chip called the M7. Prior to this phone you needed something like a fitbit or a pedometer to track your steps all day long but this new chip means the iPhone is saving up to 7 days worth of steps for anyone (or any app) who cares to ask. Sadly, since it requires the iPhone 5S, if your phone is an older model or the 5C you won’t have step counting.
Our first foray into step counting kicks in when you use the GPS tracking in the app to track your workout. When you click finish to save your workout we ask the motion tracking chip to give us a step count and then, combined with your duration, we figure out your steps per minute – more commonly known as cadence. Studies of elite runners suggest that a cadence of 180 strides per minute is optimal for running, whereas the average runner might only be hitting 150-160.
With the app on a 5S you’ll now be able to figure out your cadence during a workout and try to build up to 180 on your runs. We’ll feature an article in the next few weeks on the blog (and in the app) about strategies for incorporating cadence into your training.
GPS Distance Totals
Many of you asked me to add more control to the way the GPS tracker announces your pace so we added an option to choose between lap specific data for each lap interval / mile or overall data. As an example, after a mile lap data would announce your lap number, distance for the lap (1 mile), duration for the lap, pace for the lap and, if you connected a heart rate monitor, heart rate for the lap.
With the update and the total option selected for announcements you’ll get lap number, total distance, total duration, overall average pace and overall average heart rate.
I also tweaked the way laps are calculated. We used to calculate a lap at the first good GPS point on or after the goal lap distance e.g. every mile, but if the first lap came in at 1.02 miles due to a poor satellite signal, we’d start looking for the next mile at 2.02. I know, I know, that doesn’t make much sense as I write this down but at some point it did! So now if your first mile comes in at 1.02 due to a poor signal, we’ll look for 2.0 next, meaning your second lap would technically be just 0.98 miles. The benefit is that we stop accumulating the one or two hundredths of a mile over the course of your run so when you hear lap 10 announced you know you’ve hit 10 miles and not 10.1.
Route Mapping Update
On the website if you are mapping a route you have the option of hitting “reverse route” to flip it so the start is now the finish and vice versa. This makes it really easy to quickly delete pins from the end or the start of the route. I added a new button in the tools section of the route mapping to let you reverse your route.
iOS 7 Design Overhaul
Lastly, and potentially the part that took me the longest to complete, I completely redesigned the look of the app to make it feel more like an iOS 7 app. If you haven’t upgraded to iOS 7 and have an iPhone 4 or iPad 2 or newer I strongly recommend the update. In our app you’ll notice that the buttons or “chrome” of the app now seems like background allowing the content like the maps, the routes and the elevation all to really fill the screen. So you’ll see bigger maps, bigger articles and more training data per screen.
As always, we need your reviews, positive and negative in the app store to help let everyone know how great (or terrible!) the app really is. Please download the update today, play around with it and then click here to write a review or just give us a star rating.
Best regards and have a great weekend!