Even Argus Has Issues Though

Argus Has Issues

I have been using and reporting on various biking software / Smart Phone Apps to record my exercise and measure various vital statistics while riding my mountain bike.

My bike itself has been outfitted with several brackets / attachment modules so I can install both specific sets of iPhone cases with my iPhone 6 Plus as well as more generic ones.

On top of the iPhone then I run different apps to track my activity.  Argus is one of them I just reviewed and was pretty happy with as a exercise tracking aspect of it but now have discovered a bit of annoying feature / capabilities.

Argus mountain bike and other exercise traker

The Annoying Feature…! I just exercised and am being reminded nevertheless

The image above shows the front screen of my iPhone (not the only time you see the notifications) – and according to it I need to go workout – e.g. ride my bike.  One problem though – I just returned from a bike ride using the Argus SW for tracking my bike ride….So you would think that the Application designer would consider that and update the clock being used for the reminders….Go figure!!!

ARGUS – Another Useful iPhone Application for Your Bike

Argus

An updated review of Argus.  I continue to test iPhone applications that help you measure and track your physical activity.  There are a number of applications you can use – some more robust and useful then others.  I have a number of them reviewed at least to some extent in the summary round up found here. Over the last 1 year! I have been using two of them specifically – ARGUS (I am using the free version of the application) and Runtastic Mountain Bike Pro (I paid for this one)

The good news is that these two applications – both of which I find useful and good to use – are measuring the bike riding activities I do in a relatively similar way!  This is good.  I have tried both the road bike and mountain bike functions.  And surprisingly – the two applications do well as they measured close enough the distance, speed, and calories for the rides

I like the Argus application – it is well done with a good linkage between keeping track of your various forms of exercise and ability to see it all on one screen.  One issue I see – the notion of entering the food you consume is very tedious – and I do not understand what is up with the option to take a photo of your food…. WHY?  So if Argus can fix that – I will like this up even more ūüôā

Side note:  a link to some good bike trail photos…Enjoy!

 

 

Good Bye to my Apple Watch

Earlier today I finally decided to resolve my situation with the Apple Watch.  Both yesterday and today were beautiful sunny days in Austin, Texas, with yesterday being surprisingly cool (vs. the weather forecast that called for 90-degree F).

Needless to say, the bikes were out (after fixing a flat I had not noticed on my way back from the trails three weeks ago) and my family and I hit the green belts on Barton Creek….a nice place to bike

We spent about 1 hour and 20 minutes riding – on both Saturday and Sunday – although Sunday was a more difficult day – due to the significantly higher temperatures.

Now, back to the Apple Watch situation РI had posted about my issues with the Watch in previous articles.  I like the Watch!  The idea is great and the industrial design / physical implementation is also impeccable.  Problem (at least per my experience) is the software.  I continue to find issues with how the watch measures exercise etc.  A week ago I upgraded to version 2 of the Apple Watch OS with the hope things will improve.  Since then I have been testing the exercise applications for elliptical trainer and for biking and in all cases the results are less than stellar Рthe Apple Watch continues to give incorrect readings from the sessions

Finally, today I went to one of the local Apple Stores and had a very positive experience with the Apple Store Staff.   Overall, the are usually very attentive and knowledgeable.  This time they went well above that.  I discussed the situation with the store manager Рadmittedly I had spoken with him about a month ago about the issues and was very offered a great service РI was able to return the watch and get a refund.   This is well beyond my expectations РThank you Apple!  and Apple Store Staff!

As I stated earlier – I really like the idea Apple was targeting with the Watch and was very disappointed to have to return it but it did not work. ¬† I will look forward to the next version – with the hope that things will be improved etc. ¬† Till then – back to my bike and iPhone applications… Just as a reminder – in my opinion Runtastic Mountain Bike Pro is a good one, and so is Strava (as many bikers will attest). ¬†I have not been able to use well Bike+¬†for some reason its user interface and features are not quite as well done as the other apps. ¬†But I like to experiment – will continue testing them.

If you have questions about iPhone Apps for Biking – do not hesitate – let me know…will give you my experience and view point.

Apple Watch – 3+ Months Use Readout

Apple-Watch TestingWell I have been using my Apple Watch since early June.  I was very eager to get the watch Рwhy, you would say..? Because it promised some nifty ways to encourage you to exercise and measure your achievements.

so I started the quest – run, bicycle, lift weights, run on the Elyptical trainer…and in the process I also used secondary instruments to measure the time, distance, calories spent.

I used apps on my iPhone which I mount on my mountain bike. ¬†In the process I have used many different apps – you can find the postings on those on this blog. ¬†Also used the computer part of the Elyptical trainer….

the results have been rather unsatisfactory – with respect to the Apple Watch…not a good sight.

Here are the reasons for my dissatisfaction:

  1. measured mountain bike session – well the watch app does not discern mountain bike from road bike…. The result, completely different results – 1 hour on the mountain bike is 800+ calories but according to the Apple Watch 500-600….
  2. running on the Elyptical trainer results in a closer measurements but still disconnected
  3. i did weights – for about 5 minutes of lifting – the Apple watch registered 1 calories spent…! ¬†Really !?!?
  4. etc

i believe you get my drift… Very surprising that 3rd parties have developed apps for iPhone which are pretty accurate, while Apple’s own for the Watch are not that great…!

I hear new software is coming for the Watch – hope these updates will bring positive changes …!

 

Bike+ and Runtastic Pro Mountain Bike

Today I went on a bike ride with the purpose of both getting back on the trails as well as reviewing a couple of biking applications for IOS / iPhone.   The two applications are Bike+ and Runtastic Pro Mountain Bike;   The second one РRuntastic Рhas been on my phone and in use for about a year now.  About a year or so ago I reviewed the Free version and now in this posting I will give you a view of the paid for PRO version.

Before we get to that one, lets first take a summary view of the Bike+ app.  I just downloaded it about a week ago, and today decided to give it a try.  It came with a lot of promises Рapparently Bike+ was developed by bike pros and is supposed to address many of the needs of the biking enthusiast.

Biking applications Biking statistics application Bike+ Biking Application

The application offers quite a few capabilities among which are the ability to give you real time assessment of the climbing conditions you are experiencing as well as the usual speed, distance, time duration;   Also interestingly, the application allows you to enter tags for hazards you may encounter on the trail / road and via the application share with other users.  The application allows also integration with the Pebble Smart Watch Рbut NO Apple Watch integration that I know of (or being planned).

Bike+ biking statistics Bike+ biking statistics Bike+ biking statistics

Now about the negatives that I observed:  (1) the Grade reading and update should be happening more frequently hence with higher precision.  I noticed that I was climbing for several minutes before the field on the front panel updated.  You tend to miss some of the real time feedback Рmay be the software captures it and it is just that you do not see the real situation;  I am guessing this could be addressed easily by way of doing more frequent reads of the GPS by the application code; (2) By default the front panel / screen is not locked in and as a result only 5 minutes into my ride the screen was turned off РI had to manually turn the screen on Рafter the ride I found the option in the Settings allowing me to lock the screen in display mode Рbut that should have been the default state rather than auto turn off.   So not big issues РI will give it another try or two to experience it fully;

Now about Runtastic PRO Mountain Bike:

I bought the PRO version more than a year ago.  It is actually a very useful little program.

Rungtastic PRO Mountain bikin Runtastic biking application Runtastic PRO Mountain Biking software

Runtastic allows you to view a whole bunch of statistics as well Рand be able to measure the distance, calories burnt, time on the track, speed, elevation climbed, etc.  All in all a fairly useful set of statistics for amateur biking enthusiasts like me.

IMG_4821 Runtastic PRO biking application Runtastic PRO biking application

In terms of some deficiencies – about the only one I have experienced is when I bike with my iPhone 6 Plus and the phone is mounted on my bike via a case that aligns it in a landscape view on the screen. Unfortunately, Runtastic Pro does not re-orient itself in landscape mode – it remains in portrait and as a result tough to read.

All in all, I will test the Bike+ a bit longer and see which one I like better – Runtastic PRO or Bike+

Enjoy your rides!

Apple Watch – Incredible Postings Out on the Web

Exercising with Apple WatchOver the last month or so I have been paying attention to the various Web sites and postings related to the recently release Apple Watch.  It is interesting to observe, read and listen to the incredible level of noise out there Рespecially the large number of very loud voices thrashing the product.

I am surprised to notice that even the biking community – which I thought has traditionally been a whole lot more progressive and receptive of new ideas and technologies – is extremely polarized on the topic of the usefulness of the Apple Watch. ¬†The opinions range from extremely negative to very positive….which really highlights several things:

  • Too many people – even those considering themselves progressive and innovative really resist change! ¬†How else but by experimenting with new products will any new technology, product concept or idea, will survive and develop….?
  • For those of you who do not agree with the bullet above – think of the Apple Newton… It was 1992 (approximately) when the product came out and failed shortly after that. ¬†Yes, it failed badly – but 10 years later the Palm Pilot was all the rage, and another 10- years later various smart connected devices rule the product space and have caused the demise of the PC industry…..
  • Back to the Apple Watch – if you are on your bike and exploring a new area of town or you are in a new place all together, turn on the Apple iPhone maps on and your Watch becomes a VERY handy navigation device – you have to experience to believe what I am saying – the Watch provides very intuitive navigation hints and turn by turn directions. ¬† It is one of the best use cases so far !!! (in my opinion)

    

In a few words – we have to fail often in order to succeed !!!

Apple Watch and Biking

Apple Watch on an ExerciseApple Watch Рwhy am I writing about it on a biking blog?  Well, very simple Рit is a nifty gadget that actually, I believe, can be a useful addition to the gear for your bike rides.

Why? ¬†OK, not a bad and a very valid question. ¬†What are the key features of this watch that can make it useful to the biking community…?

 

So let’s go ahead and review how the Apple Watch behaved and performed on a mixed road and mountain bike tracks:

  • First of all – the watch is highly intuitive – I promise you, you will not need to mess with its setup or do much to get it going – just put it on your wrist (once it is all charged up and paired with your phone)
  • With regards to biking, it comes preconfigured with the “Workout” application – native to the package of OS and actually an easy to use application.
  • There are only some minor issues with the watch and the “Workout” application
    1. It does not have the ability to distinguish between road and mountain bike
    2. When I read the calories Рboth in the middle of a hour long ride and towards the end Рthe count was about 1/2 of that of the application running on my iPhone Рit looked like the Workout application is calibrated for a road ride Рwith a road bike.
    3. There was no way to show more than one screen to the front face of the watch Рso in order for you to see calories, time, distance Рyou had to move between screens manually Рno way to see an aggregate screen of information

Apple-Watch- Test-Ride

Apple-Watch-ExercisingExercising with Apple WatchI do not recommend you move between screens while you bike especially if you are on the single track…you will most likely have trouble doing both. ¬†Just let the watch do its tracking and look at the summary stats at the end of your ride or if you stop for a short break.

In summary, the application is not bad – it allows you to ride with the watch and get basic stats and as long as your ride is not going overboard time wise – i.e. you stay within a reasonable couple of hours on your bike, your watch battery will be good as well…

Overall, I would recommend the Apple Watch – and not only because I have one ūüôā but because I see the useful side of it – and guess what !!! This Fall new OS is coming with some additional features. ¬†Apple has started hinting about those on their Web site…

iPhone Bike Mount – How To Video

Well folks, this is it – now you can leverage Kristin’s tech review channel to get to various reviews of cases for smart devices (iPhones and iPads predominantly). ¬†Over the last week or we were able to also get a couple of hands on reviews going on for the bike mounts for the smart gadgets.

I personally find the mounts for iPhone (or Android phones for that matter) on my bike extremely useful and over the last several years have written multiple times about my experiences on the subject.  Now you can see the video of how to install / use as well.

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Here is also a link to some further description on the mounts.

Why do I find these mounts so useful?  For several reasons:

  • Allow you to have a good tool for assessing your exercise level
  • You are not likely to get lost on the trail — YES! believe me, multiple friends have told me they have had experiences where they were disoriented on a remote trail and took some time finding their way back to the car…
  • You can receive a phone call while biking – I do not recommend it BUT WHAT if there is an emergency….
  • …I am sure you will find other use cases as well (e.g. listening to music in some cases)

So check out the options I recommend and look for more reviews to come over the weeks ahead.

 

Biking Computer Applications on iPhone 6 plus

Earlier in the week I finally upgraded my phone from the very good and solid iPhone 5 to the iPhone 6 Plus.  In previous postings on this blog I have described how useful a smart phone Рwhether iPhone or one with Android Рcan be in terms of providing a biking computer platform for various navigation and exercise planning applications.

There are multiple options for how one can use the previous generations of iPhone 4, iPhone 5 and even iPhone 6 – here are several that I have tried and/or used on my mountain bikes over the last 4-5 years:
 

Now my new phone posed a larger (literally) challenge – being the iPhone 6 Plus – its size is pretty amazing when seen on the handlebars of the bike….But for that I will provide you with a better visibility over the next couple of days – we are preparing a through review of the Tigra mountain bike case for the phone.

Today, I tested the setup on my Trek bike and was pleased with the overall stability of the case and phone.  HOWEVER, I discovered a nuisance Рseveral of the mountain bike computer applications did not change orientation when I turned the iPhone 90 degrees to be in a landscape format on my handlebars.   I rode as usual with the Runtastic Mountain Bike Pro application on and to my surprise it stayed in portrait mode even when I turned the phone 90-degrees to landscape.  Needless to say Рthis turned out to be pretty annoying fast.

Then I tried other apps – and surprisingly all of them – BikeBrain, BikeComputer, Cyclemeter, iBike, TheBike – did not change orientation….Strange! ¬†To say the least. ¬†iBiker was the only one of the bunch – of the ones I tested – that actually automatically adjusted to landscape mode when I turned the phone to be more aligned with my handlebars.

iBiker Bike Computer view of the iBiker Dashboard

So, with that in mind, the quest for the ‘perfect application’ needs to continue – this time with iPhone 6 Plus mounted on a mountain bike handlebars in mind! ¬†Wish me luck and drop me a comment if you have a recommendation on a good Bike Computer Application. ¬† Thanks in advance!

More iPhone Apps for Biking

I am a big advocate of using your gadgets to the fullest.  As you can tell from this blog, biking apps for iPhone, are a big focus for me as a way to track my exercise as well as learn more about my biking style.

Side note: if you have an Android based smart phone – you can leverage many same or similar applications in that framework

With that in mind, today I wanted to review yet another good application, namely, Argus – Pedometer, Calory, Nutrition, Activity Tracker by Azumio.  This application converts your iPhone in a relatively sophisticated computer to track your biking as well as other activities and combine those with estimated calory tracking.   It is a good aggregator of multiple bio-related tracking points to help you analyze your habits and develop better ones.

Here are some screen shots – as you can see the application in this case is aggregating my walking statistics with a bike ride I took on the same given day:

Argus iPhone application Argus iPhone Argus iPhone Argus iPhone

As you can see the user interface on the main dashboard is very neat – I like a lot how the application aggregates information which then it can display (upon selection) into separate user panes.  

Here is also a snapshot of the application's main features: 

– Daily Steps and active Calorie counter 

– GPS mapping of Running, Cycling and Driving 

– Creates Food diary of all your meals with food photo snapping 

– Set daily goals for Steps, Sleep time and Hydration 

– Observe trends over time with all variables to track wellness 

– Uses Instant Fitness for your home workouts 

– Uses Sleep Time to monitor your sleep cycles 

– Uses Instant Heart Rate to monitor your heart beats 

– Built in support of third party wearable devices and health app

Finally, I will continue to review applications. In the mean time – here is a link to other postings on the topic

Biking Applications – Part 1

Biking Applications – Part 2

Biking Applications – Part 3

Biking Applications – Part 4

Summary Views