John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Strava app mini review

A while back I heard about an exercise app called Strava and have been playing with it for a little while. It runs on your phone, logs your workout, can connect to sensors and the like. From this point of view it’s kind of a standard app. There is no way to navigate with it for example to save waypoints so for hiking it still does not beat my reining king RunGPS (which runs on Android and iOS). You can create routes based on yours, or someone else’s previous workout and then use that route the next time you got to that place. To do this, from the website (I don’t see it on the app) click on your friends workout, then click on the wrench on the left that says actions and click Create route.

So at this point, and the first time I looked at it, your thinking, ok who cares about Strava. Digging in a little deeper there are a few unique things that Strava does, and they are plugging a HUGE gap in the Garmin infrastructure. Social. Strava allow friends to follow of you similarly to the way twitter/facebook does. And you get a newsfeed of your friends activities. You can cheer them on, you can share pictures with them. Comment on their activities and the like. You can do similar stuff on Garmin but no one on Garmin seem to permit people to see their activities, it’s locked down by default, and no one seems to changes it. Even Fitbit do a better job than Garmin in this regard. In fact of all the people I know with Garmins, NONE use this feature. Hello Mr Garmin???

And there is one other unique feature on Strava called segments. Parts of a trail, road course etc get separated into what Strava call segments. I notice Garmin connect is starting to implement segments. At the end of a ride, and on some newer Garmins you get it live, you are told how you did on the segment compared to your past as well as to others. And you get badges. This is actually quite neat. I’ve head some complaints from pundits saying people are dumbing down mountain bike trails to get better Strava scores which sounds positively mental.

For now I am only using Strava in free mode (non Premium). At $84.99CDN a year it would have to be pretty compelling. The one feature not on the free is the ability to download the GPX which then could be use as courses on your Garmin.

One of the things Strava has done exceptionally well is to connect to a plethora of other platforms.

And Strava have been smart and if it sees the same activity from multiple sources it only takes one, preferring the Strava app of course šŸ™‚ Once connected Garmin connect (the one I play with) works well and feeds all activities into Strava. There is no way to configure it, all or nothing. And what comes across is ONLY the activities. Not your steps etc. So at the end of a week/month you get only your activity calorie count.

To level the playing field Strava does not take the calorie count from other apps. The reality is, each app calculates calories differently. This is a unique approach and something I have not seen before. One of the challenges for me is that I use the calorie count on my Garmin during a ride to push myself depending on whether I am looking to build or maintain cardio levels. So using calorie counts on the app doesn’t work for me.

Strava is really intended mostly for hike/bike/run. It tracks other activities but only these get calorie counts (for now).

Overall Strava is interesting, and requires little to no effort to maintain, so I’m not rushing to get rid of it. But I’m not finding it indispensable either.

October 24, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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