Appolicious powers Verizon Educational Tools

New Nike workout app joins crowded field

by Eric Benderoff

Nike's no longer a pioneer in workout gadgets as its new app emulates other iPhone and Android apps. Also in today's App Industry Report, a Samsung Galaxy phone lands at Verizon.

Nike's new running tool

The updated Nike+ GPS app for the iPhone improves upon a tool that certainly has helped many runners. The original Nike and Apple running program was developed years before the App Store existed and cleverly tapped into the iPod by inserting a sensor in specially designed Nike shoes to track how far and how long you ran. It was a great marketing play for Nike and Apple because you needed new shoes and an iPod to make it work. Plus, the iPod tracked and displayed your mileage, creating a nice digital record of your achievements.

Times and technology change, and Nike's new tool is an app that taps into the iPhone's built-in GPS. (No shoes required!) But despite the improvements, the app is now overpriced at $1.99. Why? Because Nike lost the innovation edge with this tool, as plenty of other apps (often free) offer essentially the same tools: GPS-based route maps, workout results, times, distance, and the ability to share your results with others. Of course, none have the Nike marketing muscle behind the app, so you'll probably soon see TV commercials featuring Lance Armstrong touting the app's benefits. I'm sure it will sell well.

But before you plunk down $1.99 (I know, it's not $199) for Nike+ GPS, you may want to look at the list I've compiled of GPS workout apps that can track your runs or bike rides. (I love these apps for bike rides while on vacation. It's a kick to get a map of where you've been in a place you don't know very well.)

GPS iPhone apps:

  • EveryTrail Free

  • EveryTrail Pro, $3.99

  • RunKeeper Free

  • RunKeeper Pro, $9.99

  • Fitnio, $4.99

  • My choice here is RunKeeper Free, which allows to store your workout history, track how far you've gone and at what pace, see a map of where you went, listen to music in the background and post your workouts to Facebook to share with your friends. (I recommend the share feature only if you are on vacation at a cool place. Also, it's okay if you're training for a marathon, which actually impresses people. If you took the dog for a walk, don't share the map.)

    For Android phones, I love Buddy Runner. I've been using it on several versions of the Android phones I've been testing and I have no complaints. Buddy Runner (free) works like the Nike+ GPS app to track how far you’re going, how fast and, through the phone’s built-in GPS capabilities, your route (you can share your route on Facebook, too). It's hardly the only Android-based GPS workout app, either.

    GPS Android apps, all free:

  • Buddy Runner

  • Runner

  • SmartRunner

  • If anything, Nike's revision to its GPS workout app will have one big benefit for exercise fans: it should lead to a price war. I can't imagine RunKeeper Pro will remain at $9.99 for much longer. When you have very useful apps available for free -- and again, try them first -- why spend anything? Instead, save your dough for better shoes.

    Samsung's fascinating phone

    The Samsung Fascinate goes on sale this week at Verizon Wireless. The phone is Verizon's version of the Samsung Galaxy S line-up, which features the Samsung Vibrant from T-Mobile, the Samsung Captivate from AT&T and the Samsung Epic, a 4G phone which recently went on sale at Sprint.

    The Fascinate will sell for $200 with contract and features Swype, perhaps the best innovation to hit Android smartphones this year. (Is there an iPhone version coming soon? Please?) Accessories, including a car dock (to turn your phone into a dashboard-mounted GPS unit) and charging cradle are also included. The Fascinate joins an already impressive line-up of Android-based smartphones from Verizon, including the Motorola Droid X, the Droid 2 and the HTC Incredible.

    So when will that that Google tablet be available from Verizon? (I asked yesterday. Said the PR person: "As of now, we have no tablet news to share. When we do, you’re on the list to be one of the first to know.")