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New Nike+ GPS App – The Good & Bad

September 14, 2010

On Saturday I went for a 5k Hike around a lake.  I didn’t even think about it and did it without my sensor to clock the miles for all of the challenges I’m doing on nike.com. When I got home, I was told about this great new update to the whole nike+ system that would have been perfect had I known about it just 4 hours earlier.

On any iPod Touch, iPhone 3GS or 4 the Nike app comes pre-loaded.  You must purchase the extra sensor for $20 at any Apple store and then the app does a few things.  If you have an ipod Nano you can purchase the adaptor and the dongle for $30.

  • It clocks the miles
  • It clocks the pace
  • It clocks the time
  • It allows you to control the music from the app itself
  • It allows you to run other apps while it runs in the background, pretty much the exact same way it operates the phone.
  • The software is free, but the dongle (or sensor) costs $20.
  • Must be plugged in to log all the stats on Nike.com via iTunes

This new app however does things a little differently.

  • It doesn’t need the sensor.
  • It still does everything the above app does.
  • It allows for GPS Tracking while running outside.   And yes, even without the sensor it does work on a treadmill as well (though obviously no need for GPS).
  • The userface is much more interactive.  It allows you to detail your run with all of the options of the website portal as well as keeping up on challenges.
  • It automatically shares and updates facebook/twitter once you have calibrated the run.
  • You can customize when the voice will talk to you.  At each minute, 5, 10, 15, 20, etc. minutes and/or at each mile.
  • The app in the iTunes store will cost $1.99

Are there any downsides?

Yes.

First off, if you add this app you will have to pay for it.  However yes, paying $1.99 for something is better than paying $20 for something, so that is a win.  Although if you do download this app, you will now have two apps on your phone taking up space.  This app does NOT integrate or update the preloaded Nike+ original app.  However you can turn that app off in the settings feature to hide it.

Some of the downsides

  • It’s Buggy.  While running on a treadmill, it turned itself off 2-3x.  Which meant I had to stop running 2-3x so I didn’t fall off while playing with it.
  • You have to keep the app running at all times and your phone cannot go in sleep mode.  There is a lock on the screen that locks the phone but keeps the app visible and on which runs down your battery life. However the buttons to change song ARE still usable while in lock mode.
  • If you attempt to open another app, be it music or a a text message, it automatically pauses it which means you have to stop running. Which happens more often than you think.
  • The music is about half as loud as the original app.  I had my volume up full blast and it normally is at about 75%.  It was tough to hear.
  • It doesn’t calibrate well on a treadmill, not surprisingly.   I ran the Nike+ original app alongside the Nike+GPS app and compared it to the treadmill.   After 30 minutes of walking/running the treadmill said 2.3 miles, the original app said 2.2 miles, and the GPS app said 1.6 miles.   So it very much needed to be calibrated.  I imagine it would be more accurate while running outdoors, assuming the signal strength was high the duration of the run.

Overall, I like the usability of the new app, and the fact that it’s much more interactive and I don’t need to go through iTunes, however that should have just been an original app update.   I will probably only use this app when I’m out hiking and forgot my sensor back at home.  I imagine it would be fairly accurate for anyone running outside who knows the exact distance that they’re running.

On my run today… I went back to the old reliable original app.

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