The Walkmeter app for iPhone from Abvio has most of the features I want in a GPS speed and distance monitor. You can view your continuous walking time, distance, pace, calories burned and average pace. You can see your walking route on a map while you are walking, and it can post updates of your progress to Twitter, Facebook and email. You can get voice updates for your time, distance, and Twitter. After your walk, you can see your stats and review workouts. It also integrates with web sites such as dailymile.
The Walkmeter app is available for GPS-capable iPhones including the iPhone 3G and up.. The basic version is free, with Elite upgrades and different voices for a small charge. There are no additional membership fees required. To use the mapping feature, you need to be connected to wifi or 3G.
You can set it to display English or metric units. You need to set your weight to get a calorie count.
To get started, you just go to the Stopwatch screen and press Start (or start it from an earphone remote). Now it displays walk time, distance, current and average pace and calories burned. The display is customizable to show dozens of different items. I like the big, bright numbers on the display.
I had no problem switching from the app to the iPod function as I have with some single-tasking apps.
The app can only be used outdoors and is best used where there is strong GPS signal reception. I had difficulty using it several times:
- When I kept my iPhone in a pants pocket
- When I walked next to a bluff that blocked the southern sky
- On a hill.
Based on my experience, it is best to have your iPhone mounted in an armband so it gets the best GPS reception when using the Walkmeter app. I would not trust this as my only measuring device due to these weaknesses. GPS reception is reportedly better with iPhone 4.
The app has automatic stop detection, so you can choose to pause it when you pause, or you can let it do that for itself. I had several instances when I forgot to turn it on or accidentally paused or stopped it. I've been taking more care to close the iPhone screen so the Stop button doesn't get pressed accidentally.
Measure Your Speed and Distance
No calibration is necessary because the app uses your cell phone's GPS function to determine distance and speed. However, if you have a loss of GPS signal, you may end up with flaky readings. On one walk, my distance and speed started doubling because of weak GPS signal.
When you have a strong GPS signal, it can be a very helpful app.
You can choose what type of workout it is - walk, run, hike, skate, ski, cycle. The app displays your last selection so you don't have to answer 20 questions before you can get started each time.
I like the versatility of being able to choose what displays in the Stopwatch function. Some people may want to view pace (minutes per mile) while others want to see speed (miles per hour), for example. But those are just two of over 40 different functions you can display, including elevation, grade, split times, odometers, etc. It's everything a data junkie could want.
You add notes about the route as well.
I especially love being able to switch to the map screen while still recording the walk. You see your route being drawn as you walk it, and you can also check the map to help keep yourself on course.
You can set Walkmeter to give you voice announcements at your choice of time intervals, distance intervals, and passing events. You can choose what it updates you with - time, distance, speed, pace, and comparison to other competitors.
It is easy to save your data after the workout and simple to reset. I found the operation to be extremely intuitive.
After you stop and save a route, you can load it again in the future to walk the same route.
Sharing Your Workout
Walkmeter goes a long way towards being integrated with social media. You can send Facebook, Twitter and email updates to post automatically based on events (start, stop, etc.), at set times, at set distances, etc.
Your friends can send you encouraging replies and you can choose whether the app will read these to you through a voice announcement, including choosing specific people to get them from.
This can be a great way to keep people updated without having to stop during your workout to do it yourself.
Do you need some virtual competition? They call this ghost racing and you can compete against your own times or against imported competitors.
You can export your routes and workout data as CSV, GPX, or KML files.
You can import a route or virtual competitor by clicking on a GPX or KML link or file in Mail or Safari.
Bottom Line on Walkmeter
I give the functionality of the Walkmeter app 4.5 stars. It has almost everything I could want in a walking speedometer app, and many functions I didn't realize I loved until I saw them.
But I would give it only 3 stars as a walking speedometer/distance monitor because of the poor performance I had in getting a reliable GPS signal. In fact, it is going to be useless to me on my chief workout route because it is on the south side of a bluff. Perhaps later updates to the iPhone will get better GPS reception. I have seen discussions that the iPhone 4 has better GPS reception, and my walking buddy with the iPhone 4 is very happy with Walkmeter.
Of note, since you need wifi or 3G reception to use the maps, don't take this off the beaten path expecting to use it as your sole source of maps. If you don't have a connection, you don't have maps, even though you may have a GPS signal.