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Last Updated: July 24th, 2011

Phones are quickly adding "personal trainer" to the list of roles they can perform for their users. The potential for note-taking, record keeping and stat tracking is immense, as there's a good chance you won't forget your device when you go out for a run or hit the gym.

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Sports Tracker works by letting the app use your phone's GPS signal to determine distance and speed travelled while doing activities like cycling, running, swimming or rowing. The app also takes input like heart rate, allowing you to journal your progress across a number of days, further supported by the optional Bluetooth heart rate belt that's on sale from their website.

Through keeping track of your activities frequently, you can get a better sense of your habits and enforce a feeling of progress while working out. I know my time at the gym never really goes well unless I'm chronicling what I'm doing each and every workout: you get a sense of personal accomplishment, even when you're waiting for the results to show up on your body.

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What's kind of annoying about Sports Tracker, however, is that it's geared toward distance-based exercises. It's be nice if it included features that allowed weight and rep-based milestones to be logged, instead of just relying on the GPS meter to get things done.

Selecting exercises from a large list instead of making custom exercises would greatly increase the productivity of this app, as not everyone does the same things. It would allow the app to become more like the web site Fitocracy, which sadly does not have an Android app at the current time of posting.

Otherwise, the app is extremely polished and looks great. Things like being able to access your phone's camera and music apps without leaving the app are just little things that add to a great experience. However, it could really be a catch-all app for fitness if it just widened its focus a little bit: no one likes having to split their tracking methods for workouts.

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The app also allows a bit of discovery by bringing in a Google Map with landmarks and workouts plotted on top. The idea is that the app will give you different things to do around your city, like bouldering on rocks by your beach, or pointing you towards a certain awesome trail at a park. It's a great "little something extra" for when your workout gets a bit stale and you need a change of scenery.

However, what kind of sucks about these map-based features is that they require users to have added them; if you're in an area like me with no active users (see middle screenshot) this feature set it kind of useless. It would be amazing if the app could analyze distance, elevation and landmarks to generate some for you, but I'd also imagine that'd be kind of difficult.

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This type of user-generated content is encouraged by the fact you can share your workouts online through the Sports Tracker community, or Facebook if you decide to link it. I've never been a fan of letting people know the details of my workout, but some people find the support of others a motivating factor. You can also view friends' workouts and photos they've taken.

Still, Sports Tracker is free and ad-supported; thankfully, the ads it does use aren't too intrusive. If you're looking for an application that does the job of paid applications and would like an alternative to popular fitness app RunKeeper, this is for you. Hopefully it'll help you stick to your goals and get you feeling great.

Matt Demers
Matt Demers is a Toronto writer that deals primarily in the area of Android, comics and other nerdy pursuits. You can find his work on Twitter and sites across the Internet.

  • Matos

    too bad htc magic is not supported.

    i'll have to do with micoach and it's set workout plans

    • derk

      try endomondo. thats a pretty good app. not sure if its supported for you though.

  • iridium

    It's not ad-supported. There is one ad for Polar HR belt which they sell on their own shop.