IMapMyRide v3.9.3 iPhone App Review

My first app that I used with ANT+ Sensors was an older version of this app. Initially, I liked the App. It had a lot of features that made it fun to use such as customizable ride screen. You are able to choose what you wanted to see and what quadrant you wanted to see it in. It was also one of the few apps that you could use a power meter as long as it was ANT+ compatible. I do not have one, but other cyclists do use them. As I continued to use it I found that it was extremely buggy and that it reported incorrect results to the companion website. On top of that, the data it collected was just plain incorrect. If you was using the ANT+ Sensors then you was out of luck as there was no wheel calibration. That’s when I decided to move on and try something else. I left the App pn my iPhone and recently I noticed that there was a new update. So, what the hey, let’s give it a try to see how it goes.

iMapMyRide is a combination of bike computer and ride history database. You can view past rides, look at the routes taken and all the ride details for it. After each ride, the data automatically transferred to their main website for further analysis. You can also share your ride via social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. The bike computer part as all the basic information you need while cycling, speed, cadence, heart rate, power, time, distance, and pace. Some of the functions are dependent on which sensors you have available on your bike. All communications with the ANT+ Sensors goes through an ANT+ Receiver dongle that plugs into the bottom of the iPhone. See my review on the Wahoo Fitness sensors which is found here. That will explain all about the technology used for gathering various data on your ride.

Lets run through the screens for the software. When you load up the App, the fist screen to up is the Home screen.You have six icons and two buttons. To start a work out click on the Top Left button labeled Record a Work out. If you manually recorded a workout, then you can enter it manually with the top right button called Log a Workout. In that screen just fill in the blanks and save it. You will have a record of the work out but no map associated with it. The other screens are Profile, Routes, Training, Friends, Live, FAQ and Settings. They icons are all easy to understand, but the first thing you need to do is create an account then visit Settings.

Setting up an Account

When you start the App for the first time, you have two choices, create a new account or use an existing one. Choose the proper one and follow the prompts to get you connected to your on-line account. Once you have logged in, you will not have to login again.

Settings

Settings deals with the various software settings that are available, social Postings and your equipment. For the software defaults you can set the Distance units (miles or kilometers), Voice Feedback, Record Countdown and Split Distance. Voice Feedback is an audible cue that you can set to repeat after a certain amount of time such as every 5 minutes or you can have it announce the information based on a distance interval such as every 5 miles. It will read to you any of the following (depending if you turn them on or off), Total Distance, Total Time, Average pace, Current Pace, Average Speed and Current Speed.

Record Countdown is just a simple countdown timer that you can set, when the timer reaches zero, the phone vibrates.

Split Distance is a tool to drop a pin on the map to display time, distance and speed. You select the distance that you want it to do this for you.

I have mine set up  for the distance in Miles and everything else is off.

The Social Posting section allows the setup and configuration of your Twitter or Facebook accounts (or both).  This is where the app gets real cool. Setting up the Interval Type to either Distance or Time along with the Posting Interval, you can have the App automatically post current information on either Facebook or tweet it out or both! This is great for friends that want to keep up with you on the big race, marathon run (this app is not just for cyclists) or out on your 30 mile ride. This is a great feature for not only keeping people informed about your progress but as a safety tool as well. I have mine set to update Facebook every five miles.

The last part of the Setup is the Equipment. If you have ANT+ compatible equipment you would set them up in the Sensor Settings section. If you don’t have any of these sensors then you can skip this section as well as the Bike Tire Size as they will not pertain to you. For those that do have some or all the equipment do to the Sensor Settings. iMapMyRide can recognize up to six different type of sensors. They are:

  • Heart Rate
  • Bike Speed and Cadence
  • Bike Speed
  • Bike Cadence
  • Bike Power
  • Stride Sensor

You may notice that Bike Speed and Cadence repeat twice. That is because it might be a combo unit with Speed and Cadence or each unit for Speed and another for Cadence. Choose the proper sensors that you have and press the Connect button. The software will check to see what is out there and connect. Once connected you are ready to start using it. Normally you need to do this only once, but if you are having trouble you may have to disconnect and reconnect again. I usually don’t have any problems here.

The Rest of the Screens

The Profile section is where you see your overall stats of all your workouts. You can change a few items such as your weight (and hopefully it will be going down) and height. Not much to see here.

Routes is the section that has all of your routes recorded after each ride and the default name for them is a Date and Time stamp. I suggest to rename the route to something more meaning full and easy to understand. I will later show you how to add the route to your current ride for you to follow. It’s not hard at all.

Training is simply the last ten rides you did and the associated data with it. Good for review.

Friends is something I don’t use, but it looks like it is part of a peer group where you can see others rides and they can see yours. It could be useful to motivate you and others and keep a healthy lifestyle.

Live is where you allow others to track you in real-time and not the intervals as mentioned in the Settings section. I don’t use this feature as the interval posting is good enough for me. I can see using this feature at an event of some type where your support people can meet you for when of trouble or be there at the finish line snapping pictures.

FAQ is an on-line help reference. Look here for help that you might have with the software.

Recording a Workout

Clicking on the Record a Workout button takes you to the workout section of the App. There are three parts that you can switch back and forth on, the Map, Stats and iPod sections. There are some elements of the screen that are common to all three sections. At the top left under the Home button you have the posting Interval information. In my case, it shows that I am posting to Facebook every 5 miles. On the same line, but over on the right side is the GPS status. A red LED indicates that there is no GPS signal and a green one indicates that the GPS signal is good enough to use.

Below is the Start and the Camera button. The camera button allows you to take pictures while out riding without leaving the application. I don’t use it as I got my phone mounted to the bike, but I suppose it’s good to have when you come to a stop and you are chatting with your friends. Using the camera this way allows it to mark the location of the picture on the map with a pin drop. Later on there website the pictures show up in the Tagged locations in the route details.

The Map section is also where you can load up a route on the screen for you to see along with your position in real-time. It is simple to do, click on the plus sign at the top right of the screen and it will pull up a list of routes that you have saved. If you have the routes named in an easy to understand fashion, then it’s easier to pick the correct route to load. If not, then you may have to do it by trial and error.

The Stats screen shows you all the bike computer information. Depending on the sensors you have or if you are just using the GPS you can get the basics, speed, distance and time. What I like about this App is that you can configure this screen to your liking. You have four quadrants to work with. Clicking on each quadrant will bring up a list of data you can choose to display. Totally awesome! I haven’t seen any cycling App where you can do that. Clicking the Start button starts the recording of your ride. Clicking the same button, now called Pause, will bring up a menu to either stop recording, dismiss your recording or Resume your ride. If you choose Stop, then another menu pops up asking you what type of event this was. This is the part that I do not like. If you choose the wrong event you will lose certain data for good (cadence, Max & Min Speed). I feel that it is better to place it at the beginning of the ride rather at the end and here is why. If you have it at the beginning and accidentally choose the wrong event, stop and start over. No big deal and no data lost. This has happened to me while I was testing the App on a club ride. When I got home, I didn’t pay attention to which event I chose and as a result I lost some of my data.  Choosing the wrong event is permanent as you cannot change it to the correct one. I was not a happy camper when I found out this.

Final Notes

This App has so much potential with all the bells and whistles and the improvements they have made, but they have not yet demonstrated that the core functions work properly. The App needs has to able to record the basic core data; speed, distance, time, average speed. That is the core that every cyclists want to see after a long ride. Not only it needs to record it, but consistently and protect the data collected. Tossing out Max and Min Speed and Cadence because I choose the wrong event and not being able to reverse the mistake is a sin. I rode 16 miles to a club ride one morning and it took 1 hr and 17 minutes. The App said that my average speed was 20 mph! I wish. A little calculation shows that it should have been around 12.6 mph which is a more correct assessment of my speed. I didn’t go faster than 17.5 mph let alone reach 20 mph.

What I like

This App a ton of features but what I l really like is the customizable Stats screen. You can choose what information display and in what quadrant is real cool. The loading of the route you plan to take is also very cool. This is great for club leaders to plan out a route for the club ride and load it up for easy reference. Just flip over to Map view and see where you are on the route and where to turn next. The Social postings is good too. Interval posting to Facebook is neat or just posting the entire ride at the end is great. These are my favorite parts of the App.

What I Do Not Like

There are just a few items that I do not like, but to me they are key parts of the App. Consistently recording and reporting of  core data is essential. They have made some big strides in this last version, but there are still some bugs in it. I my humble opinion they should freeze any more enhancements and just fix the bugs and make it rock solid before adding anymore enhancements. Another part of the App I don’t like is asking the type of workout it was at the end rather up front seems out-of-place. Choose the wrong event then your SOL in changing it. Since this is a multi-sport recorder, why not have a default sport and skip that screen? I also wished it supported exporting the ride other site such as dailymile or Garmin Connect but I can see that they are direct competition to their own site for tracking and socializing with other like-minded riders.

Would I recommend iMapMyRide to my friends? That is the big question to me. Right now, I would have to say maybe. Try it with the GPS only recording and see how it turns out and keep an eye on the data it records and reports. If all is well, then continue to use it. Other than that, I would say try some other Apps.

Update:

05/22/2011

During one of my rides using another App, I came across the same problem of super high avg mph being recorded. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but as I was thinking about it, while riding, I realized what happened. In both cases, I was turning off the screen to save battery life. While it does save on battery life, it also pauses the App but the GPS is still recording distance. So, when I turn on the screen, the App wakes up and sees the new distance and recalculates the avg mph. The mystery of the outrages mph is now solved and iMapMyRide is not alone in this problem.

LiveCycling iPhone App review

For all the month of March I have been using an iPhone App called LiveCycling (formally known as REK) by a company called Soneru Inc. This App is a bike computer for your iPhone (any version) that uses ANT+ technology to connect to your bike sensors including heart rate chest straps from Garmin and power meters. It does all the basic functions of a typical bike computer such as speed, cadence, distance and time. In addition, it supports Heart Rate straps, GPS mapping, auto pause and social media support. About the only thing it does not support is a power meter, but since I do not use one I doesn’t affect me.

This is the main screen of the App that is fixed. You cannot change the order of the display nor can you choose what to display. The data are displayed with nice big numbers that is easily read. The Speed and Cadence sections has these little graphics on them that really doesn’t convey anything meaning full that I’m aware of. I think they are just eye candy and wished that space was better utilized. The Heart Rate does have a 5 point Rating of Perceived Exertion scale (RPE) that is based on your maximum heart rate and your resting heart rate. The maximum heart rate can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220. It is a good close approximation that works well. So, at a glance you can get an idea as to how much you are exerting and at the end of the ride you can also get an idea as to how hard you worked during the ride.

Using the App

To start your ride just press the Record button at the bottom tool bar and a little red light will appear to indicate that it is recording. A nice feature is the auto pause when you come to a stop and when you start pedaling it will also auto resume recording. Of course you can manually do that as well, but many times you forget to restart it until you are a half mile down the road. The Record button also doubles as the ride time and distance indicator. This is a sore spot for me as the information is small. In my opinion the real estate used by the fancy graphics could have been used to present this data in a more readable format.

If you notice, the Main Screen is actually page two of four pages. Sliding to page one brings up the live GPS map of where you are at. Your position is locked in the center of the screen you don’t have to fumble with adjusting the screen to keep you in it. This is really a nice feature for when you are venturing into new neighborhoods and want to make sure you don’t hit a dead-end. I’ve used this feature many times and is a real-time saver. If you would like to unlock the centering of you ride, there is an unlock button at the top (padlock) that allows this. The map also has the usual zoom in/out and the route you have taken is marked in red.

The other two pages I don’t use very often as I don’t find them useful while riding. Page three is a split of page two (Main Screen) and page four. Basically, it shows the current data along with a small history graph next to it. So, that makes page four a running graph of the speed, cadence and heart rate. You can flip between any of the four screens as often as you like while riding. Just remember to keep an eye on the road and not the iPhone as it is easy to get caught up in the gadget and not concentrate on riding.

To end the ride press the Record button again (even in Pause mode) and it will ask if you want to stop recording. After agreeing to stop you then enter the name of the route or ride. The name shows up in the ride history section of the application. If you made a mistake in the spelling, you can rename it in the ride history screen.

Configuring App

To configure the App you go to the Settings button at the lower right and that brings you to the Configuration page. It is here that you can enter all the information about you, the bike and your application preferences.

Some of the things you can enter about you are your weight in kilograms, so you will need to figure out your weight in kg as there is no option for pounds (lbs). I don’t know why that is not available as there is a metric or pounds option for everything else. Seems like an over site to me.

Other options to enter are your max and min heart rate, Metric System on/off, Auto Pause on/off, GPS Log on/off, and your social reporting options. For the Social settins you can have it automatically email a TCX file to anyone you want to, such as you coach, automatically after you finish the ride. Twitter, Facebook and dailymile are also supported. I tried the Facebook option and I was not impressed. All it posts is a link to their website! Very disappointed in that. It doesn’t even give you a map of the route you took. Argh!

Aside for the bad Facebook posting that it does, it’s true beauty is the emailing of the TCX file. The TCX file contains all the data points for the entire ride and is useful with some on-line websites that use the file to map out the ride and display all the essentials of the ride. In particular, I use it to upload to Garmin Connect and from there I post results to Facebook.

The Twitter feed works quite well and posts all the basic essentials about the ride. I have no complaints about that function.

Setting up the bike information is just as easy to perform. Double tap the bike picture and you have the configuration for the bike and the ANT+ sensors that you nay have. In here, you can select the tire size of your bike from an impressive list of different rim sizes. If, for some reason, you cannot find it, you can manually enter it in millimeters. No choice in the matter millimeters is the only option. Aside from the tire size and any ANT+ sensors there is the option for the Odometer settings. Very nice option as you can carry forward any odometer reads from any previous bike computer.

As for the record keeping, the App does a great job at it. The History window has all the information on the current and past rides. It keeps a running total of the miles ridden and the number of events. With that, you get the average speed, cadence, heart rate and the total time on the saddle. You can then drill down to an individual ride and look at the data, graphs and map for it. Very nice indeed. I really can’t complain, it does an excellent job at it. I can do much of my analysis right here on my iPhone without having to go to an on-line site.

A Few Glitches

I’ve encountered only a few glitches. The App goes into Pause mode when I get a call on the phone, even if I don’t answer the call. It seems like the notifications trigger this. So, what I do now is turn off Notifications so I don’t get disturbed and eliminates the problem.

The other problem is support. The website is in a Chinese dialect so I can’t read anything. It does some English dispersed among the site but that is not very useful. As a result, I can post any comments or suggestions. I am effectively cut off from the company.

To wrap things up, this App rocks! It’s easy to use, doesn’t have any problems recognizing the ANT+ sensors, easy to read screen, accurate data, reporting tools and  exporting data are just some of the great features. It just works! That is extremely important because another App has a few more features, but it has a lot of issues in the quality control department. LiveCycling is a solid product and at $12.99, it’s worth every penny. If you are looking for an App, for your iPhone, to record your bike rides, this the one for you. I highly recommend this App to anyone without any reservations.

The version reviewed here is LiveCycling 1.12 by Soneru Inc.

Update

05/22/2011

I was out doing a long ride and I was experimenting with saving battery life by turning off the screen (clicking the power button once) and while it did save considerably on battery life, an unexpected result occurred. The next time I swiped the phone to turn on the screen, I noticed that it was in auto pause mode and a second later it was back to recording. I took a look at the avg mph and it showed 26 mph! Wow, this could not be right as the max showed only 14 mph. I believe it is because of the distance difference and the difference in time from when I turned off the screen to the time I woke it up. Apparently, turning off the screen places the Application in a semi sleep mode. In that state, the ANT+ sensors are not recording but the GPS is.

Is this a bug in the App? I do not know, but another App experienced the same thing. Maybe the use of the Proximity sensor to dim the screen will help.