Runkeeper Pro gets voice features to fight Nike+

in iPhone edited January 2014
It has been some time since we interviewed Jason Jacobs, part of the team working on RunKeeper Free (Free, App Store) and Runkeeper Pro ($9.99, App Store). In that time, the app has had over 230,000 downloads and been featured by Apple in their ads and in their Apple retail stores -- both of which are definite progress for the software developer.

The difference between the free and pro versions of Runkeeper -- which allows you to record the times that you have run, how fast, and where -- has so far only been that one is ad-supported. That's going to change now that Runkeeper is introducing its first 'pro-only' feature: audio cues that read out the details of your Runkeeper session to you at set intervals.

FitnessKeeper, Inc. were kind enough to let me give this new feature a test-run before the app is made available through the app store later this week -- and they were not shy about their feelings regarding this new feature being "another nail in the Nike+ coffin." These may be strong words, but Runkeeper's relative success and constantly growing feature set hint at more than just boasting.

I decided to take Runkeeper for a spin on a bicycle ride, and was pleased to see some extra features since my last look at the app: the existence of built-in maps, for instance, and the ability to lock the screen manually. Sure enough, starting a new session prompted a stern female voice that announced the fact, and before long I had locked the screen and was on my way.

The voice is cued automatically for every mile (or kilometer) or else every five minutes. A manual tap of the screen will also tell you the distance travelled, the current pace, and the time elapsed. While given in a very computer-like voice, the speech is well done and has the right tone for this sort of activity; there's no soothing tones to be found.

For runners, the voice readouts will definitely help in maintaining the flow of the run. The last thing most athletes want to do is to fidget with buttons and straps. As a result, Runkeeper a product that is a clear cut above the rest of its peers in the App Store.

The developers also promise that there are more useful features in store, and that "this is only the beginning."
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