Monday, November 17, 2014

Help us make Track Runner v. 5.0 a reality!

We have some innovative new features planned for Track Runner and are working tirelessly to make them happen. Track Runner’s hallmark are its intuitive, highly customizable training options and we are gearing up to take them to another level. This is exciting and fun but also expensive. We’d love to spend most of our time working on Track Runner v. 5.0 and the good news is you can help us achieve just that! 

 
There is no doubt you love Track Runner based on the awesome feedback and reviews we are getting. And we have received many requests to add a donate button to the app so you can show your appreciation in actions rather than words.


Here are ways to help us get you running with Track Runner v. 5.0:

  • Click here to donate or use the PayPal Donate button in the top right corner of this page. PayPal accepts credit cards, too, so you won’t even need an account to send us your gift. Pro tip: For some extra love, make it recurring with a simple tick of a box! 
  • Product reviews: Browse our new section “product reviews” for our take on BTLE heart rate monitors and other gear and gadgets. If you feel inspired and are ready to get the product, simply use our Amazon Affiliate links to buy them on Amazon. Do us a big favor and complete your Amazon holiday shopping including the linked product while you’re there and you will have given us a Christmas gift as well. :)
  • Share, share, share: use social media to let your family and friends know about our app and our fundraiser. Like Track Runner on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and spread the donate link to show us you care!

 

We are determined to keep Track Runner free of charge and without annoying banner ads while cranking out those sweet updates. The App Cauldron is invested in the Windows Phone running community – now it’s your turn to invest in us!


In that sense: Ready, Set, DONATE!


Sarah & The App Cauldron Team

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Friday, August 22, 2014

A sneak peek at Track Runner’s next updates – Uber me Home?

Track Runner is a product of our passion for running. We developed, tweaked, listened, iterated, but never compromised to deliver the best rated Windows Phone running app. And we are always thinking ahead to further enhance the training experience for our users. With our next update to Track Runner v4, we’re adding custom distances to the pacer and improved sharing on Facebook. We also put additional heart rate sensors through their paces and will be adding these to our list soon. This update will be out in the next few days.
So – how can we improve on this? What are the problems typically faced by runners? And how can we solve them? Like every self-respecting startup, we analyzed our data and this is what we found:
UserStatsStartFinishUber
13% of runs end more than 1 km (.6 miles) away from their starting location. Typically, these runs follow some of the most beautiful trails in the country, like the Boston Charles River path. So – instead of carefully planning a loop (hello, 53%) that will be either too short or too long, wouldn’t it be great if you could just run? And at the end, an Uber car will magically appear, maybe even hand you a towel, and take you home.
Remember that Track Runner is Master of Maps? “Any app with a map is a potential Uber API partner”, says Uber. So we had a go… Our experimental Uber integration comes with the following features:
pacer screen surrender popup improved start screen
  • “Uber @ finish line”: Thanks to our track recognition and the pacer, an Uber car is dispatched automatically to your projected finishing location, waiting to take you home after your run.
  • “Surrender to Uber”: If your pacer training is not going as expected, soften the blow with a royal trip home.
  • Uber me home: Just run and order an Uber with one tap whenever you’re ready.
We usually do not share our experimental features publicly. However, we are making an exception here and want to hear from you! What do you think about the utility and convenience of these features? If you would like to be one of the first to try Uber integration, why not join our beta program by emailing betatester@theappcauldron.com?
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Time for “Surrender to Uber?”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How to improve your PR: Improve your race strategy with the Pacer (and learn how to use pacing in your training)

Success can be measured in many ways. Success can mean even making it to the track, it can be managing a mile without stitches, 5k without walking or maximizing the kcal burned over a long sustained run. But for many of us success is measured in breaking our personal records. One clever tool that helps many of our users to improve upon their PR is the Pacer. wp_ss_20140817_0001

For those who aren’t familiar with Track Runner’s Pacer: This feature helps you stick to a predetermined pace by guiding you through the run with voice notifications. If you want to run 5k in 30 minutes for example, the pacer keeps you running at a constant speed by telling you to slow down if you steam ahead in the beginning or speed up if you’re not quite on track to finish in your chosen time. It’s super simple to set up and gives your training the extra edge. 

But the Pacer isn’t just for pros, it doesn’t judge, it just gives us the extra kick we may need to keep on target.I have been working on technique as of lately as my goal is to improve my stride rate and aerobic fitness and have used the pacer to discipline myself more so than to achieve new PRs. My new routine is running every other day with the following pattern: 5k, 10k, recovery (anything between 3k and 7k) and I use the pacer most of the time. The 5k is about pushing and shaving off seconds of my personal best but the other two distances are really about managing my resources, staying in a moderate heart rate zone and being consistent. These are the runs where I hone my stride rate (up to 176 steps per minute now!) and try to maintain a relatively low heartbeat while still moving forward (harder than it sounds ;)

As you can see on the pictures, the pacer has (mostly) kept me in check and even made recovery runs still feel like a fun challenge.

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Pushing hard to improve my PR

Time for a recovery run! Cardio Map below in large.

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What do you use the pacer for?  Let us know on Facebook (http://facebook.com/trackrunnerapp), Twitter (@trackrunnerapp) or in the comments!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

OneDrive integration? Pace heat map? Additional language? Music Player? Vote for your favorite feature request!

Just over a week ago we launched our new user voice site at http://trackrunner.uservoice.com for you to suggest new ideas, report bugs and browse our knowledge base to find out more about some common questions – for example Which heart rate monitors does Track Runner support or How to fix voice notification issues. Already there are some great ideas and if you have an idea of your own, don’t be shy and post it here or vote for your favorite idea! You can also use the user voice site to submit bug reports (click on “Contact Support” on the right side of the page). We love to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Track Runner v4 with Heart Rate Monitor Support and SensorCore Integration

We are incredibly excited to announce the latest version of Track Runner has just gone live. Before I go into explaining all the new features, thank you to our amazing team who worked so hard on this update. Our last update was extremely well received, but we wanted to make this one even better, and I think we achieved that.

We do get a lot of Feedback, and we enjoy reading every single piece and responding to it. One particular request we see all the time is heart rate monitor (HRM) support. We absolutely get it – heart rate helps runners understand their performance level and allows for a much more focused training experience. Truth of the matter is, we simply couldn’t offer broad heart rate monitor support due to technical restrictions in Windows Phone 8.0, but we certainly designed the app with this feature in mind.

Thankfully, with Windows Phone 8.1, this is a thing of the past. We are now able to support Bluetooth 4.0 heart rate monitors. Strictly speaking any such monitor should work, but we do have a list of tested devices in our new knowledgebase. To be clear, on Nokia phones you’ll also need the Cyan update to use heart rate monitor support, but thankfully that is rolling out quickly. See this page on Nokia’s website for more information on Cyan availability.

We thought very hard and long how we could make heart rate data as awesome an experience as possible. And this is what we came up with:

  • customizable heart rate zones: you don’t have to know exact bpm values to train efficiently. Just browse the 5 heart rate zones (settings – heartrate) to see which ones you want to utilize in your training and voice notification will help you stay “in the zone”. If you know your max and/or resting heart rate you can make the zones fit you even better.
  • post-training analysis: beside giving your average bpm and max heart rate of your run, we integrated heart rate into the pacer graph so you can see how much stress that crazy fast mile put onto your system. We also provide your average heart rate split by split.
  • Cardio Map: If you trained with your HRM the diary will now show a Cardio Map after your training. The route appears in the colors of the heart rate zones so you can see which parts you ran in which zone. And if you think that’s neat why not share the map on social networks? Because you can!
  • statistics page: it’s been a long time coming but the ominous “?” is gone and replaced by your average heart rate – with time span selection as usual
  • gear: heart rate monitors are completely integrated into gear tracking so you can track their mileage. You can also set your default HRM. For information on your HRM’s battery level just pause the run from any run screen.

 

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Here’s a big screenshot of the Cardio Map that can be shared to social networks (you’ll need the Twitter Beta to share to Twitter, the current release version of Twitter does not support Windows Phone 8.1’s new sharing features we’re taking advantage of).

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The diary’s much improved landscape modus:

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At this point we expect you to say “wow”. But that’s not all: This update also includes support for Nokia / Microsoft’s SensorCore technology, enabling Track Runner to use motion data during your run. Obviously you’ll need a SensorCore enabled phone for these features, but the good news is that the new Lumia 635 and Lumia 630 cost less than $100! We’ve been testing with these devices for a few weeks, and we really like them. They’re great for running and definitely recommended. So, what kind of motion data are we talking?

  • Cadence Analysis: Being able to count steps means that we can compute your stride rate. That’s great news for runners, since increasing the stride rate can help minimize injuries. A good stride rate should be around 180 (but you may want to check with your orthopedist). We found the data to be very reliable, as long as the phone is inside a pocket. Armbands are discouraged.
  • Cadence Analysis is completely integrated into Gear tracking – allowing you to compare your stride rate on different shoes to help you decide which ones are best. To make sure that interval training – you may stop or walk during rest phases – does not skew the data, we’ve made sure to exclude interval training workout from average stride rate computations for shoes.
  • Auto-Pause and Auto-Resume: Pauses your run after 5-10s of inactivity. This works great at traffic lights, but to trigger it you need to completely stop running. Jogging in place will not trigger Auto-Pause. The run is automatically resumed once you’re running again (this takes about 20 meters / 20 yards.) We’re hoping to improve this a little bit with further updates, but once you remember to not move for a few seconds, it works great.

There is so much to this update, and the last few weeks we’ve been exclusively testing. We believe the app is very stable now, but if you do encounter some problems, please let us know via the in-app feedback form or at http://trackrunner.uservoice.com. Clicking the green question mark on the bottom right of this page will also get the job done.

Lastly, all of these features are available for free. There’s no catch – no in-app purchase, no ads, no terribly annoying rating reminders. We don’t compromise, and neither should you, so give Track Runner a go if you’re not already using it. If you like the app, please leave a 5-star rating on the Windows Phone Store.

Thank you.

Sarah & The App Cauldron Team

Sunday, July 20, 2014

We care about your opinion - give us feedback on uservoice

We love to hear from you, whether it be praise or suggestions on how to make Track Runner even better. If you have this crazy awesome idea for Track Runner (or maybe for another app we should make?) you can tell us all about it at trackrunner.uservoice.com. Even more convenient: Click the question mark at the bottom right of this blog and submit your idea or feedback in two quick steps.

We will build on our knowledge base as we go along and you'll be able to find lots of helpful info as well as tips and tricks there. But even better, you'll be able to vote up your ideas to let us know what's the next hot feature you urgently need in Track Runner.

So, have a browse and tell us what you think!

Thank you for training with Track Runner.

The App Cauldron Team

Friday, May 30, 2014

Track Runner Version 3.0 brings Interval Trainer and Pacer

We are very excited to announce that version 3.0 of Track Runner just went live, bringing interval workouts and a lot more. So for those of you that can’t wait – get it here: http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=95c6a10c-84a7-4c26-98eb-5d6b9df93698. So, what’s new in this update?

Intervals:

There are a lot of activity trackers, but we wanted to turn Track Runner into your personal running coach. Does your coach babble on about your training being “half way done” when in fact you are sitting on a park bench and having an ice cream? (I wouldn’t want that as my coach!) The new intervals feature in Track Runner analyses your performance during your training and gives you voice cues to speed up or slow down so you train at the right level.

Preset are four interval workouts for different skill levels that adjust to your progress. But you can just create your own custom training in a few taps. Combinations are endless (figuratively speaking) with distance and time based intervals and adjustable intensity.

After your interval workout you can analyze your performance in your diary which shows you an interval by interval breakdown on how you have done.

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PacerTrackRunnerScreenshotPacer

Pacer is a neat feature that I can personally see replacing freestyle runs most of the time. If you want to run 5k in 28 minutes for example, the pacer guides you through your run so that you keep running at a constant speed and don’t steam ahead in the beginning and are too exhausted in the end. It is great for improving your personal best. Advanced runners can enable negative splits, an effective strategy to improve race times and train energy conservation.

 

Redesign part 2:

We also continued redesigning the user interface. From diary to stats we made sure that entries are easy to read and pleasant to look at. The Performance Genius also got a facelift and countless other pages a bit of a tidy.

DIary1 Diary2 DIary5

8GeniusMisc. and bug fixes:

Finally, a few more tweaks: you can now challenge a friend via social networks to beat your record once you set one. We expanded the Help/FAQ section with useful tips about the new features as well as syncing runs and GPX import/export. We  fixed some bugs and improved stability. For example, if you had problems with your records being off or returning –8s after you imported a run from another tracking app into Track Runner, recalculating them (settings – general) will fix this issue.

We hope you’ll enjoy trying out our new features and are always happy to hear from you if you have any questions or suggestions.

Happy running!

Sarah & The App Cauldron Team