APP OF THE DAY: Nike+ Running review (Android)
If running is your thing and tracking your progress using your smartphone your preferred method, then there is no shortage of options open to you.
Google Play is littered with apps that will track your progress, plot your route on a map, log your calories burnt and keep track of all your other stats.
But with the Nike+ ecosystem being pretty large, it was a major gripe that Nike+ Running was available only on the iPhone. Fortunately, the shoe is now on the other foot - or both feet, rather.
- Google Play
Before we get going, let's make one thing clear. Nike+ is currently geographically restricted, so those in the US can get it, those in the UK can't, unless you're with O2.
Due to an exclusivity agreement, O2 customers get access to the app before anyone else.
But this is Android and such frivolities won't get in your way: you can simply download the app from another source and side load it on to your device if you want it now and fancy giving the restrictions a two-finger salute.
You'll need an account to use Nike+ and it's easiest to head on to the website and sign-up. If you're serious about using Nike+, then the website is a useful tool, so you can easily look through your data, check your progress or stare aghast at the lack of it.
The Nike+ Running app is divided into two sections, reflected in the tabs across the top of the page. One is a dropdown menu, divided into four areas; the second takes you directly into the actual running section.
Hit "run" and you'll be into the real meat of the app. You're presented with your run options, so not only can you choose the music you want, whether you're outdoors or on the treadmill, or get live feedback from Facebook but, more importantly, can also choose the type of run you're doing.
The options are basic, where you just run, or distance or time. The last two mean you can tell the app your target, so if you have a training plan in place you can set yourself for a 45-min run or whatever.
Hit the run button and you're off. The app then uses the GPS on your Android phone to track your location and, looking at the results we've got so far, it seems pretty accurate in tracking the route.
The main display will show you your basic stats, give you music controls, and let you peel back that stats display to view the map. This is all great, but we'd imaging that most runners won't be able to see their phone display when running, because it will either be in a pocket or strapped to an arm.
But Nike+ Running also includes voice feedback. You'll be given your progress as you run, so you don't need to look at the screen. You can change the frequency of this feedback, from every 250m, through to every 15 mins. You can also select to hear your time, distance and pace.
If you find the voice feedback annoying, which some will, you can restrict it to reporting only at the end of your run.
Once your run is completed, it's synced with your account on Nikeplus.com, so you can login and browse your run, play back your route and so on. It means you avoid the circuitous upload route that some other devices require.
On the other side of the app, outside of the run recording, there are three major sections: home, which gives you a summary of your progress; activity, which gives you a breakdown of your runs; challenge me, where you can set yourself various targets.
There is a fourth and final section which is a Nike shop, so you can order some new shorts, or whatever.
The great thing about Nike+ Running for Android is that it's free, meaning it's pretty hard not to use.
The downside, of course, is that it doesn't know or care about other sports. If you want to track a walk, it thinks it's a slow run. If you want to record a ride, you shatter all your record, because it doesn't cater for cyclists.
But if running is your thing and you're in the Nike+ system, then the app for your Android phone is pretty much essential.