Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hearing voices

Several runners in my Twitter feed and on my Daily Mile account seem to like the RunKeeper app.

I tried it once and hated it, for two reasons: One, its GPS couldn't handle my country roads like MapMyRun had consistently been able to; and two, it spoke to me. I wasn't expecting that robotic observation of "one. mile. at. nine. minutes. and. fifty. seconds," and it didn't matter to me that disabling voice was probably very simple —trial over, RunKeeper loses, MapMyRun wins.

So over the weekend, I finally hooked up my wireless Internet, which in turn inspired me to finally listen to my phone's prompting to upgrade my apps. I did so ... after clearing off RunKeeper, something I apparently hadn't managed to do last fall.

MapMyRun's welcome screen looked a lot different, but the important part — the live mapping, another feature that RunKeeper either lacked or hid from a certain lazy smartphone user — was the same. Off I went, two easy, gently breezy, humidity free miles.


This is why I don't like to upgrade my apps. Last time, it was the garage door opener app that hit a huge snafu, deleting the account name and password that no one could remember with certainty and causing us to reset the password.

Now this time, the user name and alphanumeric password with special characters (IT gods are smiling!) survived, but apparently the price I paid was having the default set to "unexpected robot voice blaring at interval I never track anyway." For me, there isn't any especially good time to hear a voice less humanoid than a GPS one, but why every two miles? I record my single-mile, not double-mile, splits ...

Unlike RunKeeper, MapMyRun gets another chance, with the "voice feedback" setting easily turned to off. But app developers, if you're reading this, please heed this advice: Surprise noisy additions to your products don't make friends, just soiled pants.

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