Endomondo: Wicked GPS sports tracking app

It was reader Kip Hakes who suggested I check out Endomondo, the GPS sports tracking app a few weeks ago.

Well, on Saturday it was my turn to take baby Archie out for a stroll. My instructions were to exit at 930am and not to return until 11am. He was supplied fed and sleeping.

All I had to do was leg it around Marlow keeping him quiet for a few hours. I thought it might be interesting to track my movements so when I was half way down the road, I risked a pause in the gentle rocking of the buggy to locate and download Endomondo from BlackBerry’s ever-improving App World. Endomondo is free, light-weight and entirely brilliant.

I installed it, registered an account in 5 seconds. set it to ‘walk’ and pressed ‘start’. 4.7 miles later I arrived back bang on 11am. I then sought out Endomondo.com and boom, there was my ‘workout’ (‘buggy walk’) highlighted and route perfectly documented via Google Maps. The service itself offers a heck of a lot of flexibility — including the ability to challenge your friends.

If you’ve been looking for something to use to track your walks or sports, do check out Endomondo. They’ve apps for nearly all the platforms too. Thanks for the recommendation, Kip!

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  • Mike42

    …..aaaaaaaand the practical, real-world, real-person-not-industry-geek application is?

    ….er….

    Ah, the narcissistic fitness freak.

    Now I have been known to use Nokia Sports Tracker, SportsDo, ViewRanger etc as I bimble about the place by bike and foot in both training mode and competition. But in every case the novelty has very quickly worn off. So you know where you went and how fast. So?

    Geotagging of piccys used to be a USP, now every phone worth its salt does that natively.

    Sharing your route with friends – hmmm. Just_not_valuable_enough to warrant remembering to use an app then pushing it to others to view/interact/use it, probably requiring them to get the app as well.

    I have a £400 heart-rate monitor/pedometer thing that I purchased in a pique of fitness angst, thinking it would make me better because it tracked all manner of metrics and told me what sort of pasta to eat post-run. But the underlying reality is that most runners/cyclists do the same loops over and over, therefore a simple stopwatch tells you if you are getting better or worse.

    For top (and I mean top) athletes, second-by-second metrics might squeeze out a bit more performance, but they have their own tools for doing so.

    The Endomondo et al emperor has no clothes. Or maybe they are just really tight running shorts ;-)

    /m

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    What's wrong with using it as I did — tracking the amount of walking? Without Endomondo, my wife wouldn't have believed I'd done 4.7 miles!

  • Mike42

    Let's face it, she did not *care* how far you'd walked. She just wanted 90 minutes of peace. Had you walked 100m to a cafe and sat reading the Marlow Thunderer, eating brioche and quaffing espresso whilst baby snoozed she'd have been just as happy ;-)

    (some say 'teaching' a baby that they can only sleep if being constantly rocked is making a rod for your own back, but that's another can'o'parenting worms right there)

    …unless this is part of building a newer, trimmer, fitter, faster Ewan? Then <applause> and maybe. But distance and time are not necessarily good indicators of fitness gain (For most, yes. But then so is laying off the pies and John Smith's, and having to buy new trousers).

    So nothing's *wrong* with using it that way. All I'm saying is that activity tracking apps have been around for 5 years now, and none have seen uptake beyond the niche of a niche of a niche comprising Geeks, fit Geeks (or Geeks that want to get fit), or Fit/Aspiring Fit Geeks Who Can Be Arsed After The Novelty Has Worn Off.

    Clearly Endomondo have convinced A-round VC's that this is A Great Idea That Will Change The World. Maybe some sort of cunning link into FB will make this something that the masses 'get'. Maybe handset GPS technology will progress in the next year so that always-on, ultra-fast TTFF and almost zero-impact on bty life will make this a default behaviour where you track everything THEN decide what to share with who. A mobile location-aware pedometer with one-click (or no-click to trusted parties) sharing enabled.

    But I doubt it.

    /m

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Right, but it was relevant to me?

  • Mike42

    Well obviously, it was your walk!

    But will you remember to do this in a week's time? a month's time? Will you be arsed? Will it become something you always have the presence of mind to use?

    ***what does it add to the sum total of your life's enjoyment that will make you remember to use it?***

    If you want to know how far you've walked, e.g. as a part of Weightwatchers etc most people spend £5 on a Boots pedometer that lives on the dressing table or hall table and is a visual reminder to tool up, fatty. In sight is in mind.

    Or will this end up in the app e-graveyard, the equivalent of the bottom shelf in the corner kitchen cupboard, alongside the toasted sandwich, waffle and smoothie makers?

    I bet you £5 that you won't be using this in 3 months time.

  • garethjames

    Well you would be out of luck with the Nokia Sports Tracker application, seeing as how it does not exist now and the website is being wound down.

    The people behind Nokia Sports Tracker up and left Nokia last year, and now are setup and running as Sports Tracker Technologies. There is a new application available for S60 V3 FP2 and S60 V5 phones now and they have stated that support will be forthcoming for Symbian^3 as well.

    The new application uses open source maps, and also they now have a supply of bluetooth enabled Polar manufactured heart rate monitors for sale directly from the website. And I love it. And I am seriously unfit. I am on holiday right now, staying with the mother-in-law, and while I know where the places are, and roughly how long it might take me to walk there, I do not know exact distances. And this is one area in which ST shines for me. I go for a walk, mostly with the dog, I stick it on and away I go. All the information is then saved. So if I am feeling boring the next day, then it is the same route, but lets see if I can up my average speed by .5km/h, for example. I don't know about Ewan, for all I know he has the distances between places in his area pretty well calculated, but from reading the post I get the impression that the fact that it was 4.7miles in 90minutes came as somewhat of a chock! I also have, daily, the old, Nokia Step Counter application running in the background on my phone from 08:00 to 22:00 and this is great for giving me a daily amount of steps taken. But ST allows me to really tweak my walks and bike rides. I also like to set a countdown timer and then see how far I can manage in that time.

    I do not have the new Polar HRM yet, but I am getting one as soon as, and that will really show how hard I am working myself. Because there is no denying that the years are catching up with me, and my love of the good food is not doing me any favours. I think that I can see myself using this application for a very long time!

  • Mike42

    Hi Gareth

    In going up against Ewan's enthusiasm I knew it was a loosing battle in this arena :-)

    NST/Endomondo/SportsDo between them might have a few hundred thousand regular users. Maybe. Dunno. But the reality remains that they solve a problem that hardly anyone has, and if you do have there are much more professional solutions from the likes of Suunto/Polar if you are trying to crack an Olympic squad qualifying time. They are all limited by the pathetic battery life and fragility of modern smartphones. I doubt Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes will be using Endomondo anytime soon (unless they bung him a new Range Rover that is ;-)

    Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of this sort of tool: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiwimike/3231840412/ is a NST-Google Earth mashup of the first leg of a day-long adventure race I did last year. I like this sort of stuff as much as the next GPS-armed bloke.

    But what does rankle – and why I originally posted – is the marketing hype idea that this is an indispensable tool for the outdoors- or fitness-inclined. It's not. The e-fit emperor has no clothes.

    /m

  • http://mHealthInsight.com David Doherty

    In the 70’s you wouldn’t have found many investors interested in gyms. Today, despite the fact that they generate billions of £’s for companies, many people still maintain that they aren’t effective.

    Endomondo is an early iteration of the gym of the future.

    The fact that it runs on a wide variety of mobile platforms makes it particularly exciting as it can enable users to benefit from the network effects that have alluded the proprietary device/services offered by the likes of Samsung’s MiCoach, Nokia’s SportTracker and Apple’s Nike+ because your friends don’t have to go out and buy the same device brand/model as you.

    The potential for companies like Endomondo is limited by the imaginations of mobile operators. In the Japanese market most new mobiles have stepometers built in and they are widely used.

    In my opinion it is way too early to discount mobile activity monitoring solutions particularly in a world in which there are increasing numbers of seniors living independently at home and as our modern societies continue to try and meet the rising levels of disease, increased financial burden and reduced
    productivity that is resulting from the obesity epidemic.

    From my use of Endomondo (and other similar services) I have no doubt that they hold enormous potential to motivate individuals and change behaviour, things that todays healthcare providers are struggling to achieve.

  • ashleybolser

    I'm afraid I'm with Mike42 on this… I really like NST and had it on one of my phones for a while… Logged quite a few walks and runs on it, confirmed the distance I was walking every day over the same route and, and, and eventually forgot about it!
    I actually have a lovely Polar watch and a Garmin GPS unit, both of which are fairly useless due to a combination of #Fail issues!
    Sadly much as I love this type of App it is never, never going to set the world on fire! Not unless I can get something else out of it, like auto logging to FourSquare or SCVNGR (Whatever) Why I might do that is also beyond me but these location apps seem popular, I'm not even Mayor of my own business…
    Hey ho
    Ashley

  • garethjames

    jj

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I was walking really fast Gareth. So much so that I pulled a muscle in my foot!

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Why don't you just take one photo per year of each of your children? Far more efficient ;)

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    You're like a couple of grumpy old men! ;)

  • Wayne Phipps

    I commute to work and don't have a Cycle Computer. I do however own a Blackberry and discovered Endomondo via AppWorld. I must say, it is the best App I have ever used. Not only does it track my route, calculate speed, estimate calories burned but it allows me to compete in challenges against other real people from all over the world. I have even extended my daily commute to increase my calorie burn. All this for free! That can't be bad?

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Agreed!

  • Iain

    For me the real issue is whether the GPS radio will guzzle the battery on the phone. I log about 60-80 mile/week and most of it is indoors because I'm in hot-belt Asia. GPS will not work. Therefore, you have to place your trust in the machine that you are using. The Johnson (not sure if any one will know the brand) treadmill I use reports fairly accurate values, because I am cross-checking with web resources about calorie burn for someone my weight running at the speed I ran (and Newtonian physics will figure out the distance I ran).

    It would be very nice to see the metric on a GPS unit. But (1) it is unnecessarily cumbersome to remember to bring a phone out to run, (2) I perspire a ton and don't need additional gear, (3) the phone's batt is a concern. The back-patting would be gratifying, but it's one run out of approximately 700 runs per year…All in all, a more efficient form-factor (watch perhaps), a better clime (means moving), more education/better feature-set, would make something like this all the more valuable.

    The only two times I've used the GPS function on any program was (1) during a flight to see if the plane was flying as fast as reported (jeez…you know that I found out a ton more than the on-board screen reported, yeah…) and (2) during a hydrofoil boat ride to an island in Vietnam to check out the speed (it didn't work because I was not close enough to the window, while sitting at a window seat).

    Surely these things are good and novel but considering weather and practicality and geek-novelty, they are a niche-within-a-niche product as mike42 says.

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