May 182012
 

 

For those of you just joining us, we are on a continuing journey to learn more about heart rate monitors, and the best way to choose the right one. Our website covers all types of electronics and tech stuff, but overwhelmingly, triathletes and runners come to our site to check out heart rate monitors and GPS watches. We have had so many questions about using smartphones as a heart rate monitor device, which smartphone heart rate monitor straps to buy, and which apps to use that we decided we should start reviewing the the heart rate monitor straps, and the smartphone apps that work with them. Today, we are reviewing the Endomondo and Endomondo Pro apps for smartphones. 

Before we get started, we should tell you a little bit about us and how we perform product evaluations. We have a group of 4 people who do the evaluations of all of the stuff. One person is the lead on a piece of gear, but everyone gets a chance to evaluate the product. We have 2 guys and 2 ladies, so it’s a good mix of people. It gives us better insight, and we get a better review overall. Everyone has an input to the review, and if there is a major disagreement, we will note it in the review. If you want to know who these people are, check out our About Us page. Four of us are seasoned triathletes, and 2 of us are are also full time Pilates instructors. Jennifer Lynn, who is a guest blogger, is a full time Pilates/spinning instructor. All swim, bike, run, do Pilates and Yoga, and use all of the gear on a daily basis. Many of you have read the FitnessElectronicsBlog disclaimer, but here it is in case this is your first time reading one of our reviews. For the record,  we are in no way connected with Endomondo any of the companies whose gear we review. We remain disconnected, in large part, because we love playing with the latest technology, and we couldn’t keep our hands off this stuff if we tried.  We downloaded and purchased Endomondo and Endomondo Pro from the iTunes store. No give-us-gear for a favorable review, or anything like that. We call ‘em as we see ‘em. It keeps us honest. Typically, if we like the product, we will buy it to have around, use, and be able to check out software updates and answer questions.  So, enough with the babble. Let’s get to the review.

 

First of all, Endomondo works with the smartphones listed below:

On the Apple side, the app is compatible with iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad Wi-Fi + 3G, iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G and iPad Wi-Fi + 4G. It requires iOS 4.0 or later. For our test, we are using an iPhone 4S and the Polar H7 Bluetooth low energy heart rate monitor strap (Last week, we reviewed the Polar H7 Bluetooth Low Energy heart rate monitor strap. The review can be found here.). The app is also made to work with ANT+ heart rate monitors from Polar, Zephyr, Garmin and other manufacturers. Other ANT+ supported devices like bike speed and cadence sensors will also work on ANT+ enabled Android phones. There are two Endomondo apps made for the iPhone; a free version just called Endomondo, and a paid version with added features called Endomondo Sports Tracker Pro. The Pro app costs $3.99.

So what are the features?

Here are the features of the free app:

  • Track any outdoorTrack any outdoor sport including duration, distance, speed and calories
  • Get audio feedback for every mile or km while exercising
  • Check out the newsfeed with recent workouts and other activities done by your friends
  • Send peptalks to your friends in real-time from the newsfeed (you write a message that is played aloud to them a few seconds later) and comment on their workouts
  • Track your heart rate (works with ANT+ heart rate monitors and requires a Fisica Sensor Key, more info at store.endomondo.com)
  • Set a distance goal and have the audio coach speak to that as your target
  • Study routes nearby and use the map to navigate your way around
  • View history of workouts and study split times per km or mile
  • Race against a friend’s time and have the audio coach help you perform better
  • Compete on a specific route nearby and Race against the route champion
  • Set the app to pause automatically when you are not moving
  • Enable countdown (customizable)
  • Customize the main screen to show the information that you find most valuable
  • Enter a workout manually, e.g., a treadmill run, spinning or weight training
  • Sign up with your Facebook account
  • Use Facebook and/or phone book to hook up with your friends on Endomondo

Here are the additional features that you get with the Pro version:

  • Interval programs: Choose from 3 programs or create your own with time & distance intervals (NEW)
  • Graphs: View graphs with your lap times, heart rate, speed and altitude throughout the workout
  • Beat yourself: Set a previous workout as your goal and the audio coach will help you perform better this time
  • Time goal: Choose a duration for your workout and the audio coach will help you reach the time goal
  • Calorie goal: Set a calorie goal for your workout and the audio coach will guide you

 

Using the app

Here is the main screen of the app. Before using the app, you will want to set up a few of the basics. If you want to use any of the sharing, friends, or storing features, you will need to create an account. It’s easy and free, and only takes a minute.

Next you can change your sport by pressing on the running word or icon:

When you do this, you are able to change your sport, with 50 options available. Some of them are shown below:

 

Once you have your sport set, you might want to visit the settings screen:

Here you can login, set your weight, change the start countdown timer, connect to your heart rate monitor strap, and turn auto pause on or off. You can also change the map view from this screen. Here is the standard and satellite views of the map setting:

Once you have the chosen your settings, you can head back to the main workout screen. If you want to start working out, just press start, and you are on your way. You can change the screen to display duration, distance, calories, heart rate, speed, and average speed. Just press and hold any of the display boxes, and your choice of options will be displayed.

If you want to get a little fancier with your workout, you can click on the Workout: BASIC icon on the screen below, and choose different types of workouts.

Here are the options that you have for workouts:

We will run through some of the workout screens. Here is the Manual Entry workout screen. You can set starting time, duration, and distance:

Here is the Set A Goal workout screen. You can set a distance, time and or calorie goal:

There are also Beat A Friend, Follow A Route, and Beat Yourself workouts. These allow you to race against a friends’ time, or race against one of your previous workouts. You can also follow a route that you or someone else created, which can be a lot of fun. This allows you to race against someone else, on the exact same route that they used.

One of my favorite features of Endomondo Pro is the addition of Interval Training. This is one of the major difference between the free and Pro versions, and it is not available on the free version. Here are some screen shots of the available options:

There are three types of interval programming. There is a good description of each in the image above.

Choosing the Standard interval feature below gives you a 5 minute warmup, and then 1 minute on, with 1 minute rest, done 6 times, followed by a 5 minute cool down, for a total workout time of 21 minutes:

Selecting the Pyramid interval starts with a 5 minute warmup, 30 sec on, 1 minute off, 45 sec on, 1 minute off, 1 min 30 on, 1 minute off, 1 minute on, 1 minute off, 45 sec on, 1 minute off, 30 secs on, 5 minute cool down, for a total workout time of 22 minutes:

Selecting Tabata intervals feature starts with 10 secs off, 20 secs on, done 9 times, with a 10 second cool down, for a total workout time of 4 minutes, 10 seconds.

This is a great way to get started, but the best thing is that you can create your own interval workouts. Just click the plus sign on the Interval Training page, and you can create one like the one shown below:

Creating an interval workout is simple!

If you listen to music,by pressing the iPhone home button twice, and swiping to the right takes you to the iPhone music player, so syncing and listening to music is a breeze:

So, are you ready to workout?One last thing before you do –  You may want to set some audio alerts so that you know your time and distance on each lap. Click on the speaker icon on the main screen, and you will be taken to the Audio Feedback settings:

Having all of these selected will give you audible feedback at each lap, including all of the information above. If you are wearing headphones, the audio will be heard over the music, if you are currently listening. If no headphones are plugged in, the audio will come out of the iPhone speakers.

That’s it for the setup. It’s time to work out! Here are some screen shots off of the Endomondo site:

Here is a screenshot of the Friends tab:

If you log into the website, you can see a summary of your workouts, and a map of where you’ve been:

 

 

 

Thoughts, Opinions and Summary:

Pros:

  • The app is very easy to use and configure
  • Full featured
  • The app has a large selection of activity types
  • Great interval capabilities in the paid Pro version of the app
  • Nice online logging capability and views

Cons:

  • Some of our testers would like to have Facebook and Twitter upload capability.
  • Would be nice to be able to create workouts online, and download them to the iPhone

Overall, we really like this app. It works well, looks good, is easy to use, and one of our favorites for working out. Would we recommend it? The answer is definitely, Yes. We feel that paying the $3.99 for the interval and graph capability is well worth the money spent.

As an FYI, iTunes gives Endomondo a rating of 4.5 out of 5 star rating, and Endomondo Pro a 4.5 out of 5 star rating.

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