There are a lot of running apps available on the App Store, but Runmeter is a favorite of ours. It's incredibly full featured, and at US$4.99, it's also one of the most generously priced apps of this type. We got to meet up with Abvio CEO Steve Kusmer, a former executive who's translated his business knowledge and passion for running into a strong fitness app business, to talk about version 5 of Runmeter (already submitted and due out soon) and what's in store for Runmeter and the other Abvio titles.
The app has been really popular so far, and the new version makes an already impressive list of features even longer. Voices is probably one of the biggest new features; the app now has a number of different text-to-speech voices that will read out almost anything to you as you run, from your times to average speed or distance. There are even social "cheers" -- if you post your run to Facebook or Twitter and get a comment back, the app will read it out to you live. The app will also connect up to DailyMile; while Kusmer says he wants to keep all of your running data on the phone, users who want a more cloud-based experience will be able to do so with that service.
You can also email your runs out in real time now. Kusmer said the feature was often used to keep friends and family updated on your run as you go, but the email has another use: each email sent out contains a .GPX file that has a map and even timing data that can be imported back into Runmeter, meaning you can send and share any of your runs with anyone else. While you're running, you can not only see that file data (and race against that run), you are also tracked against your best, average and worst runs for a course.
Kusmer also pointed out that while it's not new in version 5, Runmeter has something that not a lot of other running apps have picked up on yet. If you have a headset with an iPhone control, you can double-click it in the app to start and stop the included stopwatch. Kusmer also said that these features will be carried across all of Abvio's titles, so even if you don't use Runmeter, Cyclemeter (which is almost as popular as the running version, we're told) or Walkmeter will do the same things.
There are a few text-to-speech voices included with the app already, but more will be sold for in-app purchases, so if you want to have, for example, a "running butler" speaking to you in a posh British accent, you can do that. Otherwise, Kusmer said the price point has worked well for him. Runmeter's not a super cheap app, but for what it offers, it presents a great deal for runners.
While version 5 was a lot of work, Kusmer says that in the future he plans to take more advantage of sensors hooked up to the iPhone, reading either heart rate data or other body metrics from strap-on sensors connected to other parts of your body. Kusmer says that 2011 will be the year that most fitness accessories move from using their own hardware to simply connecting to your smartphone, allowing more powerful apps to use more specific data about what your body is doing as you run. Before that happens, version 5 of Runmeter should be out sometime this week.