Runtime was introduced last year as a simple run tracking app designed to provide a best in class experience for tracking your routes wherever you run, bike, hike, or go to explore the outdoors. The app places your content first and provides an intuitive interface around tracking where and when you exercise. The new version of Runtime for iOS 8 builds from Runtime’s original design for iOS 7, and seeks to become an even closer companion to runners on the iOS platform. The update ships Wednesday alongside iOS 8.
It’s interesting to think about the role apps play in our every day lives. Fitness, of course, is an important part of all of our lives, and so in many ways the fitness apps we choose to use have a major impact on our overall health and fitness levels. Apple recognizes this too, making Fitness a central design pillar of the Apple Watch experience, and a cornerstone of the iPhone line with the M7, M8, and HealthKit.
Late last year I made fitness my primary goal for 2014. I’ve always been very active, but recently my fitness slid more than I was comfortable with. I wanted to pick up the pace in 2014 and get back in shape. I completely changed my diet and ramped up my exercise routine. I enjoy running and I use Runtime to track all of my runs. At my peak in May I was running 3-5 miles every day. I’ve run over 500 miles this year, and lost 65lbs. I’m now in the best shape I’ve ever been in. Some of that is thanks to Runtime, and in that sense, it is the most important app on my phone.
Because I use Runtime so much I am always looking for ways to improve it and make it more useful to runners. iOS 8 was a major opportunity to do just that. With iOS 8, Apple focused on providing new ways to enable developers. The goal with Runtime for iOS 8 was to leverage some of these new technologies while also providing new features that runners had been asking for. Here’s whats new.
Its important for runners to have a way to easily start and stop their workout while also having information about their activity at a glance. The new Today Extensions on iOS 8 are a perfect way to do that.
Before iOS 8 if you wanted to start or stop a run, or see your current time and distance, you would need to unlock your phone and open Runtime. Now with the Stopwatch Widget all you have to do is swipe down to open Notification Center.
The Runtime Stopwatch Widget lets you start a run conveniently from Notification Center, and have full control while running without opening the app. The widget also shows you your time and distance with just a swipe so that you can stay informed about your progress while working out. When you aren’t running, the widget shows you your current daily step total, to help you get a better picture of your daily activity.
The widget really changes the way that I use Runtime. I listen to podcasts while I run, so Runtime isn’t always my foreground application while working out. I also like to run for time, so having precise control over starting and stopping my run is important to me. The widget gives me that, and its been a joy to use.
But the widget isn’t the only improvement to Runtime’s stopwatch. The in-app stopwatch screen has been redesigned to show an interactive and live updating map of your route. This map is a very important usability feature to many runners, especially trail runners. I decided that this feature had to be added during one of my trail runs, a 15 mile run on Austin’s Barton Creek Greenbelt trail. I ended up getting lost about half way in, and needed to find my way back to the main trail. A live map with my route was exactly what I needed to do that. I think this will be a huge help to a lot of trail runners out there.
I’m excited about the potential that HealthKit offers users to gain a better picture of their overall health and fitness. To help further this, Runtime will store your running distance information in HealthKit. This fits with Runtime’s principle of giving users as much control over their content as possible. People using Runtime will have that important piece of their fitness picture available in the Health app for iOS 8.
Providing more statistics has been the most requested feature from the first version of Runtime. Many runners are very goal oriented and tend to sweat the details. How is my pace, is my time improving, have I been pushing hard enough? The first version of Runtime included a very important feature for giving people a clear picture of their workouts: highlighting time spent running versus walking on a route. Runtime now also includes quick access to 10 important stats and interactive charts to explore each run’s pace and altitude, as well as all of the runs at a given place to spot trends over time.
The 10 available stats are computed for each place that you run. You can use the places feature to organize runs into groups, either for different specific locations that you run, or for different training periods while you’re building up to something bigger.
The stats themselves are grouped into three different types. Cumulative stats, like the total distance you’ve run. Weekly average stats, to give you an idea of how your performance varies week to week while training. And timeline stats, that chart all of your data over time to give you a fine grained look at individual workouts.
From the stats screen you can select any stat, which will be shown in the header for that place. You can also tap the information icon to view an interactive chart for that stat. The first version of Runtime also featured stats for pace and elevation for a given route, and those are still there, but they now feature an interactive chart as well.
I’d also like to give a shout out to Boris and BEMSimpleLineGraph for powering the interactive charts in Runtime. If you’re a developer looking for a great library for drawing graphs, look no further.
2014 was a big year for the iPhone. It has been clear for a while that Apple would introduce larger screens for the iPhone 6, and I started thinking about what that could mean for Runtime. I’m pleased to announce that Runtime will feature native support for the iPhones 6 when they launch.
Runtime places a high emphasis on maps, which make up the majority of the app’s 4 main screens. With a larger screen, Runtime can show you more of the map to give you an even richer picture of where you ran. On the places and routes screens, this means bigger map thumbnails so that you have more information at a glance.
The best example though is the new Stopwatch screen. On the iPhone 5s the interactive map is relatively thin. Its still big enough to see your route, but isn’t as glance able as a larger map. You wouldn’t want to make it bigger though, because the start/stop controls and the stopwatch time itself are still the most important objects on the screen. But with the iPhone 6 Plus there is enough vertical space to fit the controls and time, and a rich map that shows plenty of information at a glance. This is a perfect example of designing to take full advantage of the new largest iPhone.
The biggest feature of Runtime for iOS 8 is that the app is now free. The Stopwatch Widget, HealthKit support, and iPhone 6 support are all included for free. This really makes Runtime the best in class app for tracking where you run, for everyone.
Runtime also seeks to be a powerful app for the avid runner. The new version includes an In-App Purchase to upgrade Runtime with many advanced features for the avid user. These include the new powerful stats feature, a customizable interval timer, the engaging flyover mode that shows you a 3D overview of your route, and the ability to track multiple places within the app. All of these features are available at the one-time upgrade price of $4.99.
Of course, Runtime already has a large user base, which I am very thankful for. I’m very pleased to be able to provide all of these advanced features, including the new stats feature, to everyone who purchased the first version of Runtime. Users who purchased the app before will all have these advanced features available to them automatically, as well as the new iOS 8 features. Thank you to everyone who supported the first version of Runtime!
I’m very excited about the new version of Runtime for iOS 8 and I can’t wait for you to try it out. I continue to use the app every day, and its had a major impact on my personal health and fitness. There’s even more included in this release, including bug fixes, stability and performance updates, and some UI improvements. Its a big update for Runtime and I hope you enjoy it. Thanks!