There are many apps on the Android Market that are geared for runners. While most share common features, three of these apps have some features that set them apart for the rest of the apps. There are three main factors that I used to judge these apps;
- The app must be free or at least have a feature-rich free version.
- The app must have mapping features using the gps built into Android phones.
- The app must be able to be personalized.
So here are my Top Five Free Running Apps for Android Phones. Each of the top three apps have been reviewed at length and links to the full reviews are provided in the app summaries.
1. Cardio Trainer
Taking the top spot is Cardio Trainer. This app has great mapping, has a full-featured free version and can be personalized with multiple settings. The app is stable on both my Motorola Droid and HTC Incredible and is incredibly accurate with both its distance and speed recording.
The interface is clean, clear and is easy to use from the moment you first start using the app. Cardio Trainer provides a map of your route and can be viewed while you are still out on the streets. The accuracy is so precise that it even showed my route when I moved from one side of a street to another on the map.
With features like a built in music player, voice feedback and choosing to record in miles or kilometers, Cardio Trainer is really an amazing app!
2. Run Keeper
Run Keeper comes in at a solid second place for running-based Android apps. While it does not have the personalization options that Cardio Trainer has, it is the master of social networking. If you are part of a fitness or running group that uses Twitter or Facebook to share with and compete against other members, Run Keeper is your app.
The mapping feature is solid and, unlike our third place contestant, you can view the map anytime during your workout and not only when you've stopped the session.
What this app lacks are the following:
- No way to find out how many calories you've burned
- No internal music player
- No altimeter.
Despite a few drawbacks that may be addressed in future updates, Run Keeper is a sold app at a solid price: Free.
3. Run Tastic
Filling out the Top 3 Running apps for Android is Run-Tastic. Very similar in features and functions to Cardio Trainer and Run Keeper, Run-Tastic is geared towards cardio exercises like running, walking, biking and hiking. The interface is easy to use and its mapping feature is accurate and powerful.
So if Run-Tastic shares the most common and useful features as the top two apps, why does Run-Tastic finish third? Two main reasons;
- You can only view the map of your route after you complete your workout.
- Limited personalization settings.
- Lack of an internal music player.
4. Run Star
If I were writing this app in the future (that would be after January of 2011) the Run Star Android app may be much higher on this list. When you open the app, you are tempted and teased with all the "Coming Soon" features. As of the writing of this article, Run Star will just track and record your runs. But, the app will soon, according to the developers, not only track your runs, but also have features that allow you to set options like "Time Run, Distance Run and Pace Run." The app doesn't get into the details of what these features look like or how well they perform, but they are certainly interesting enough for me to keep looking for app updates.
Looking forward to writing a full review on this app once all the upgrades are released.
5. Keep Running
Okay, so this app doesn't meet all of the criteria I set, but it makes the list because of its one ingenious, fun and motivational feature. With Keep Running, you set the minimum speed you want to run (or walk, bike, hike, etc) and the app, using the built in gps of your Android, let's you know if you fall below your speed threshold. How does it do this? It's built in music player shuts down the second you go too slow!
Simple and ingenious, this feature is great for anyone who wants to set speed goals during their workout. With the ability to adjust the minimum speed before each workout, you will easily be able to set your workout goal and then use Keep Running to make sure you have instant feedback to keep your moving at your defined pace.