Runkeeper might be the best third-party run tracking app for the Apple Watch


Aniket Sharma lists his very reasonable expectations for a running app and explains why Runkeeper comes the closest to meeting them. This is interesting to me because I actually switched away from Runkeeper when I started running with the Apple Watch. I’d been using it with iPhone-only runs quite happily and when I added the watch to the equation I started to have problems.

The syncing between the watch and phone apps seemed to be very flaky, and I would often lose parts of my runs (phantom pause) and would get unexpected results depending on whether I started a run from the watch or from the phone. Runs started from the watch would sometimes not use GPS data from the phone that was along with me for the run, while runs started from the phone would frequently not update the display on the watch. And there’s nothing worse than the feeling of realizing, after a distance record-setting run, that your tracker app had you “paused” for a part of that run.

This led me to experiment with other running apps, and Runtastic won me over for a number of reasons: (1) rock-solid connection between the watch and phone apps, despite which I started the run on, (2) a highly customizable watch display, and (3) a general no-nonsense design aesthetic.

Anyway Aniket’s review makes me suspect Runkeeper is worth another shot. Nike+ may be, too: my problem with it had been that the display would only show one stat at a time, and required swiping to switch from time to distance, e.g. Recent reviews of Nike+ sound like this has been way improved.

I usually listen to podcasts while running, which makes two features of most of these apps infuriating. First, the voice-over feature that is enabled by default in all of these apps. Fine, easy enough to turn off. Second, the music controls, in Runtastic at least, really do apply to just music. I’ve been running with headphones that don’t have controls on them, and especially when that voiceover kicks in, the inability to pause is infuriating.

The upshot tho is that these apps are all slowly improving, and that competition is driving that improvement. Good stuff, I’ll be giving Runkeeper another shot.