Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sports Tracker: A Private Little Exercise App

Monetization is taking its toll on Android applications.  Now, it's understandable that the developers want to see a return on their investment in time and resources -- and it's understandable that the users aren't keen to throw down a lot of money.  We'll try free stuff before we try paid stuff -- unless that "stuff" (a book, music, film, etc) is from someone whose work we really enjoy.  Android developers are using the tactic of "free to play but if you want the good stuff, you have to pay a few pennies for it."  At the same time they also do a social media push to get your friends to join you as a small community that uses this app.

"Sign up with Facebook and (by the way) let us have access to your friends list and your personal information" is the new Terms of Service of many apps.

The trouble is, not all of us want to bother our friends with our games or our diet progress or many other things.  And many of us don't want to compete or interact with strangers.  Enter "Sports Tracker", a free app from a Finnish company that has some interesting goodies and gadgets to support the software.  It doesn't ask you to join anything, doesn't ask your email.  Open it up, hit the "explore" button and you can start tracking your own walking or running activities.  It saves the log for you, if you like. 

You will have to go into setup and change the settings from Metric to Imperial (the foot/pound/miles standard), but this is trivial.  After you enter your weight, gender, and age, the system will tell you how many calories you burned.  If you're stuck for ideas on where to go for a nice hike or run, the "Explore" button shows you other places nearby that people using this app have walked, jogged, or cycled using this app.  This is a nice feature if you're away from home and would like to find a good place to do a little exercise.

They do have options if you want to share your data on Facebook or with a partner or with a team -- but that's something you set up for yourself.  You aren't forced into doing this to use their service.

So why am I so twitchy about the "new paradigm?"  Well, I got a new Android phone three weeks ago, and was trying to restore all my favorite apps.  I lost the password and couldn't remember which email I used for MapMyRun, so I downloaded it and tried to sign up as a new user.  But MapMyRun had fallen into the Facebook Sharing crowd and wanted access -- to figure out what language I spoke (is anyone having a "DUH" moment right about now?) and who my friends are. 

I refused it access and it wouldn't let me sign in another way.  So I trotted back to the app store and tried to find something that didn't need to have access to my Facebook information.

So why am I so adamant about this?  Well, one of my college classmates competed several times in the Olympics and won a Bronze and still teaches athletics.  I do NOT want to have my scores hanging out there (where she might see them and chuckle to herself at how slow I am.)  Another's had surgery and recent health problems and I don't think it would do her morale much good to see that I'd finished a 2 mile walk, no matter how slow it was.  I'm not on any teams nor am I likely to be and I sure don't want to "compete for the leaderboards."

Several other apps that I poked at requested the same amount of information.

So here's to the Sports Tracker App -- a nice little app that does what I need it to and doesn't want to blab all over the internet.  It's exactly what I wanted.

Oh... they sell bike mounts, arm straps, and heart rate monitors that synch with the app. 

Company site:

If you'd like to click and try it, here it is for Apple Itunes:
And here it is on Google Play:

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