Adidas miCoach (Windows Phone 8) with Adidas heart rate monitor review
Adidas miCoach has been on iPhone and Android for some time, but now it has arrived on Windows Phone 8 complete with support for the Adidas heart rate monitor.
We've been out running to find out what the differences are in this latest version and whether it's a genuinely good coach.
After a few initial stumbling blocks getting the app set up on our Nokia Lumia 620 - it's technically still in beta at the time of writing - and finding the heart rate monitor we were eventually ready to get running.
READ: Nokia Lumia 620 review
We went out for our usual 6km run, Adidas miCoach heart rate monitor strapped on, and pounded the pavement for 30-minutes to test the miCoach app out. The app works on all Windows Phone 8 devices, however the heart rate monitor only works with the Lumia 520, 620, and 720 rather than the top-sec Lumia devices.
Unlike Strava, Runkeeper, or other established running apps the goal of miCoach isn't for you to just to hit the road and start running. There is no "Go" button that enables you to just track and record your usual route. That will be a shock to some people expecting things to be really easy to get start.
Instead the idea, as you might have guessed from the name, is to coach you into being a better runner: a faster runner, or even a thinner runner.
To get the most out of the app you first need to set yourself up online by heading to the Adidas miCoach website. Or if you're an impatient runner then you'll find a selection of sample sessions to let you test the water.
From your miCoach online account you can punch in all your relevant details down to what shoes you are going to wear, but more importantly to set up a training plan: something that you can't do within the app itself.
There are dozens of training plans to choose from and all start with an assessment workout so the app can calibrate how hard to push you based on your normal output. Once you've selected a training programme best suited to you, it will automatically sync with the app on your phone and then you're ready to roll.
Heart rate monitor strapped on, app connected - via Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE), which is exclusive to Nokia - and we were off on our assessment run. It's 12-minutes long and asks you to walk before eventually asking you to run at maximum warp speed.
From then on, combined with GPS data to track your progress, the miCoach system knows what your boundaries are, and most of the training programmes involve you running above or between a certain threshold. Both audible and visual feedback prompts are given to help you know when to speed up or slow down.
It takes a little bit of getting used to, with the GPS doing most of the work if you've opted for "Pace" to keep track of where you are, but you can soon get the hang of it. We found setting the pacing to "heart rate" was less power consuming and more useful for performance building.
Always on hand
If you're a runner who likes to carry the phone in your hand, the screen gives a bevy of information including heart rate, distance, time and so forth and compared to the iPhone app - which we also took out with us on the tests - the Windows Phone 8 experience gives a lot more information and a lot more access to your data as you go.
The iPhone app has always been pretty drab in its look, and while the Windows Phone 8 version is cluttered with information, it's a lot easier to navigate around and more colourful. The Windows Phone OS interface means you swipe left and right between data points such as maps and graphs to further illustrate your running performance. There's a lot of visuals available.
There are a few unique features with miCoach on WP8. The Nokia Music integration is a first for miCoach and lets users listen to music within the app and there is also the exclusive athlete voice pack. Even if having Jess Ennis telling you you've done a great job is patronising, there's more to come from this in the future. All in all the miCoach app is more customisable on WP8 than on any other platform.
All this clever stuff does come at the cost of battery life, however. Performance-wise, running with GPS on throughout, even tracking our every step for 30-minutes and beyond was hugely demanding on the Lumia 620's battery life.
Adidas miCoach on Windows Phone 8 is much the same offering as you'll find on iPhone or Android, but with WP8 the information is more readily at your fingertips. Visually, too, it's a better looking app, if not a cluttered one.
We've found the app to be a success in its goals, and ours: it will help you achieve any number of set goals over a course of weeks and helps give you purpose rather than just mindlessly going out to pound the pavement. Now you can do that with added direction.
If you're training for a big race, then this will certainly help you get across the finish line, and probably faster than you expected.