Is the best known fitness app still ahead of the pack?

RunKeeper has been away from the starting blocks for a while now, initially building a rep for itself over on iPhone as THE app for tracking your distance training exercises. While it’s still one of the premier options to build your outdoor routines around, it is starting to show its age a bit now.

RunkeeperThe good, first though, which is that where RunKeeper excelled in the past, it still does. Tapping into the GPS functions of your phone, the app will precisely track your progress in everything from cycling to downhill skiing, though its greatest strength is still in monitoring running. It will also keep a record of all your activities, including time of day, distance covered, average minutes per mile over that distance, and then combines all that info to work out the number of calories burned. Each time you use the app, a Google Maps record of the route you took is generated and saved for your evaluation purposes afterwards. These can then be stored in your account on the RunKeeper website.

The link-in with the site is one of the core functions of RunKeeper, in fact. While the app can be used without setting up a free account there, doing so does enable some added functions, such as RunKeeper Live. Online, it also allows you to investigate your long-term development in much greater detail, get involved in RunKeeper-based Fitness Classes, and link the app to your foursquare account – and yes, there are extra badges to be earned for doing so.

However, there are a few functions that more recently developed rival sports apps offer that RunKeeper still hasn’t implemented itself. The most obvious is the inability to access your music library in-app. Yes, you can have a music player running in addition to RunKeeper but having to switch between apps is an inconvenience at best and an interruption to your workout (affecting your time and performance record) at worst. On a shallower front, it’s also become drab-looking in comparison to some fresher newcomers. On a more practical but related note – and like any dark-hued app – it can become difficult to actually read the screen in direct sunlight. Those quibbles aside, for a free fitness app RunKeeper still can’t be beaten – though a more fully featured update wouldn’t go amiss in the near future.

Price: Free Developer: FitnessKeeper Inc

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