Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man

2Feb/161

Goodbye, Google MyTracks

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Today is Groundhog Day here in the States... and for some reason, it seems very familiar.... as if this has somehow happened before....

In yet another stunning move that kills off something very productive that people actually use, Google has decided to end support for its MyTracks fitness app:

After April 30, 2016, My Tracks will no longer be available. We apologize for the inconvenience this might cause My Tracks users. We’ve made the tough decision to invest our efforts into other, more wide-reaching, mapping projects.

Of course, the reason they're killing it is because MyTracks doesn't make Google any money. I can understand not maintaining it, but just EOL'ing it (End-Of-Life, fyi (for your information)) is something I don't see as a smart move. There are more than 10,000,000 installs of it, and over 200,000 reviews of the app... something tells me they could have done something with it if they really wanted to.

4Feb/156

Tasker And MyTracks

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

As part of my Constant Struggle To Simplify, I wanted to track my cycling miles without having to jump through hoops or do anything crazy. Up until recently, I was using Endomondo to track miles (and before that I used MapMyRide). These programs promise all sorts of features; social commentary, audio coaching, ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity, route planning, etc. etc. But really, I found I didn't use any of these extra features. I just wanted a simple, automated way to track my mileage that I could keep in digital form. And with Endomondo's recent feature creep I was having to tap 3-4 menu items just to get to where I could record a ride! Nothing wrong with my Cyclecomputer, either, but I like analyzing numbers and stats.

Keeping with my wanting to use Tasker to automate stuff, I found a Tasker Plugin that allows it to start and stop Google MyTracks recording. MyTracks doesn't have all the fru-fru social stuff, but it supports ANT+ and Bluetooth if I decide to go that route later (and Tasker can automatically connect to them). Plus it automatically syncs with Google Drive, so the potential for 100% complete automation is there. Let's get busy!

There's a couple of plugins I use to do this: AutoActivity, and the MyTracks Tasker Plugin.

AutoActivity is a service that runs in the background that guesses what you're doing (walking, cycling, driving, still) based on GPS and inertia input, and assigns it a "confidence" score percentage of how sure it is you're doing that. You can use it both as a trigger (i.e. "when you detect me driving, do this") or an active variable (i.e. "Do this only IF activity=xxx")

Tasker is so ridiculously flexible, it takes some playing around to figure out the best way to accomplish something. Sometimes the "best" solution isn't immediately obvious. This is definitely the case with this problem. So, let's look at what we want to accomplish, and how we can go about it.

2Dec/141

6 Free Fitness Tracking Apps Reviewed

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Note: since this was published, Google has announced the end of MyTracks, and as a result Google Fit now tracks bike mileage, though without any other kind of stats.

We can't escape it, we're in the digital age. Companies are all about Data, and we as consumers have followed along. With the rise of GPS-enabled devices in phones and bike computers, almost anyone can now track their cycling and running statistics, complete with geolocation and tons of other stats. This of course allows us to not only track our ride history, it allows us to compare information and apply it different ways.

I've long been a fan of GPS technology, and so naturally I migrated to using GPS to track my bike rides and commuting miles. But there are so many choices out there! How's a person to decide what's best for them, except try them all? I even made a poll in the G+ Bike Commuter Cabal community!

Poll Results

Fear not, for I've already used them all*, and my findings are here to help you make a decision on which App is best for you and your riding style.

We're going to look at the top ones, and also include Google's newcomer "Google Fit" to the mix, just to see how it stacks up against apps that have been on the market for years. I started off using a 7" Samsung Galaxy Tab, and recently got a Motorola Moto G, which is what I'm recording rides with now. All app data and screenshots are from the Moto G. The apps will be reviewed in the order I tried them, nothing special about that.

Criteria:

  1. App itself (quality, reliability, features, ease of use, accuracy)
  2. Accompanying website, features, ease of use
  3. File Formats import/export
  4. Paid features (if available)
  5. Score/uses/thoughts