RunKeeper Versus Runmeter on the iPhone: A Newbie Runner’s Review

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calories you’ve burned. On another screen you can see your current location on a Google map with a red line that traces the route you’ve been following, with little green signs at each mile mark. The app saves the data from each of your runs when you’re done, and also automatically uploads the data to the RunKeeper website.

RunKeeper map screenWith the Pro (premium) version of RunKeeper, you can even snap pictures while you’re out running, and the app will geotag them and attach them to the point on the map where you took them. (That feature mimics another favorite mobile app of mine called EveryTrail.) The Pro version also includes the aforementioned coaching functions, where a voice speaks over your headphones to help you keep to a desired target pace, or tells you to speed up or slow down for interval training.

The RunKeeper website is where things really get interesting. RunKeeper isn’t just an app—it’s a lifestyle. The site includes an online control center for your data and a social network to support your overall fitness goals.

Each run, walk, or bike ride is uploaded to your profile, where you can review maps and stats from all your outings, and see fitness reports detailing your acttivities over time. If you have another FitnessKeeper-enabled device, such as a Withings Wi-Fi scale, this data will also flow into your reports, so that you can track things like your weight and body fat percentage. And most importantly, you can build a community of other RunKeeper users, which can be useful as a source of both peer pressure and mutual support. You can see Facebook-style updates on your friends’ latest activities and compare your own activity records to the people on your “Street Team” (FitnessKeeper’s name for your friends list).

As my colleague Erin wrote last week, FitnessKeeper has just added fitness classes and training plans to its website as well. For $9.99 to $19.99 (or half off if you’ve bought a “RunKeeper Elite” annual membership for $19.99), you can sign up for 5K or half-marathon courses designed by Jeff Galloway, a running author and columnist and former Olympic 10,000-meter runner. The parameters for each run in the course then appear in the RunKeeper app’s calendar, and on the day of each run you get prompts showing you how far to go. As you train you can connect with others signed up for the same course.

RunmeterRunmeter, by contrast, is much more self-contained. Abvio, the San Francisco company behind the app, is proudly iPhone-centric, meaning there aren’t Android or BlackBerry versions of the app, and all the action takes place within the app itself—there’s no online profile and no social networking. (But there is social media. As with RunKeeper, you can set the app to automatically publish data about each run you finish in the form of a tweet or a Facebook status update.)

[Corrected 10:20 a.m. 10/15/10] Runmeter came out in September 2009 and currently ranks just below RunKeeper in the health and fitness category of the App Store. Abvio also makes separate programs for walking and biking called Walkmeter and Cyclemeter; all of them cost $4.99, with no free versions. (Cyclemeter is currently ahead of both RunKeeper and Runmeter in the App Store rankings.) Given that Abvio’s focus is entirely on its apps, the Runmeter app feels slightly more built-out and feature-rich than the RunKeeper app. Of course, it’s got the obligatory stopwatch screen showing your time, distance, and pace, and (if you select this in the settings) calories burned, as well as a map showing your route and graphs showing your pace over time and your elevation. All of your routes are saved on the device; there’s no automatic backup to the Web. But you can export your run and map data to a computer via e-mail, choosing from a range of formats for the export (Google Maps, GPX, KML, and CSV). You can also sync data from your runs to your iPhone’s calendar app, which is a nice way of logging your runs in the context of all your other activities.

Runmeter has a couple of other nifty features as well. One of them is … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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