I’ve just bought myself a Bluetooth-equipped HRM-band from Polar, so I’m going to write a series of articles comparing Android fitness apps.
I’m looking at this from the POV of losing a fair bit of weight, not that of an elite triathlete, or something 🙂
I’m also mostly working in the gym, not out running or riding on the street.
Let’s start with iCardio.
Why start with this one? Because it looks like the one that I’m going to like most, so I’m using it first because I figure it’s going to be the benchmark.
And after testing a few, it’s the one I use. But it could be so much better.
“iCardio” is a stupid name which denotes its iOS heritage, but that’s not a black mark, it’s just iSheepish.
First up, it ticks one really big box – it shows a real-time HR graph with zones. I love this. I know it’s easy to remember the crossover point for the zones, but I really like to see it.
And another tick – you can turn off the GPS in the preferences. Such a simple thing, so rare to find. The practical upshot of this simple addition is that you don’t have to go through the hassle of waiting for the GPS to not find anything then cancel it, or remember to start it up before you head into the gym.
When it’s running, you can choose between the real-time HR graph, or the summary screen by flicking the screen sideways.
You can get lap splits by clicking the settings cog, and it’s in there. I guess this is so you don’t accidentally trigger it, but I’d prefer it (perhaps optionally) on the main screen(s). (I use the lap setting when I move between machines to measure the relative effectiveness of each.)
However, a massive oversight is the lack of screen orientation awareness – it’s in portrait mode 24/7. Really frustrating given that when you’re using it at the gym, I always want it to be in landscape (horizontal) because I’m watching a training video or even just because the headphone jack is on the bottom of the phone. To only have portrait mode is ridiculous.
Another incredibly annoying thing that makes you wonder if the developers actually use the software is the voice alerts when moving into a new zone. If you’re really smashing it it’s all good, as you power through from one zone to the other, but if you’re increasing your HR more moderately, you can be on the cusp of a zone change and it insists on telling you every time you dip in or out of a zone, which can be seriously annoying if it happens multiple times inside a minute. A simple “maximum one zone change announcement per X seconds” option would sort that out perfectly. (Even better would be a “maximum one zone change announcement per X seconds unless it’s a zone you haven’t been in for five minutes” or similar, but anything to stop it constantly telling you you’re flip-flopping between two zones would be great.)
Syncing – why doesn’t it do this automatically? So annoying to have to do this manually before you can share it. And given you have to do it manually, why not put a great big, easy-to-see “sync” button somewhere obvious.
Sharing the workout screen to Social media is easy, once you’ve manually synced it. However, when you’re sharing the result, it would be very helpful if the “notes” field was copied in as your status. You know it makes sense. It would also be good if the exercise type you select carried through to be the
I lost connection to the HR band on about my fifth or sixth use, so I guess that’s not too bad, and is almost certainly the hardware, not the software. Took about a minute to reacquire it.
It will also yell at you if you do THIS:
Here’s what the link-though from the social media update looks like:
Social media – easy to share to FB, looks good:
- Real-time HR monitor
- can turn GPS off
- easy to share to social media & good share info
- easy to change between exercise types
- hold different user-selectable defaults for each exercise type
- No landscape mode
- voice alert options are terrible, and it can drive you nuts
- Can’t auto-sync
- Stupid name
- can’t edit session (i.e. if you forget to turn it off when you finish)
TLDR: I like this, it works well.