RunKeeper Versus Runmeter on the iPhone: A Newbie Runner’s Review

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“auto stop detection,” meaning that the clock stops when you’re immobile (say, waiting for the walk signal at an intersection). That way, involuntary pauses in your run don’t count against you in the average pace calculation. The automatic voice announcements over your headphones are highly configurable: you can set them to occur at a range of time or distance intervals, and you can pick what data gets announced, and in what order. You can run against “ghosts” of yourself on the same route on previous runs. The app can use text-to-speech technology to read incoming replies from your friends on Twitter and Facebook over your headphones. If you’re running uphill, the app will take note of the slope and adjust your calorie burn rate accordingly. And there are many other features and customization options.

Runmeter map screenAs far as performance, I’ve found so far that both Runmeter and RunKeeper work exactly as advertised. The distance and map data seem accurate and consistent, and both apps give you several ways to bask in the glory of your accomplishments by reviewing your past activities.

So which app should you choose? That probably depends on what kind of runner you are. If you tend to pursue your fitness goals alone and you just want an app that accurately tracks your runs, Runmeter will do everything you need and more. But if you want to tap into the power of social groups, share your activity data with friends, and access training classes and other help, then RunKeeper Pro is the better option.

Heck, the apps aren’t that expensive — for $15 you can buy both of them and compare them for yourself.

And to give you even more to chew over, I plan to bring you a smackdown between the creators of the two apps. I called up both Steve Kusmer, former CEO of Atomz and co-founder of Abvio, and Jason Jacobs, the Babson College MBA and marathoner who founded FitnessKeeper, to get their takes on the similarities and differences between their apps. In a separate piece coming Monday, I’ll quote each of them at length. You’ll see that, like most competitive athletes, they aren’t above trash-talking the competition a little bit.

Continue to Part 2: The Running App Founder Smackdown

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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15 responses to “RunKeeper Versus Runmeter on the iPhone: A Newbie Runner’s Review”

  1. I’m working my way up to RunKeeper, starting with a little app called Couch25K:

    It’s idiot proof, even for flabby middle aged dudes like us, Wade.

    Go get ’em.

  2. Wade, I am a runner and perfectly willing to put in the miles, but when it comes to figuring out the gadget side of my athletic life, I am a lazy git, so this is a great piece for me.

    And continuing my slacker M.O., I have a question for you Wade…I wasn’t sure if you could get a set of training runs from Jeff Galloway via RunKeeper Elite, or is the offering more of a breakdown of the actual course you will be running in the race? I would want a whole training regime packaged for me, including my training run courses.

    And, tell me to sod off and figure it out myself if you haven’t gotten that deep yet.

  3. Jay says:

    I would love to see a comparison between free apps vs. paid apps. I use Strands (free app), which offers all the features that paid apps have. It’s also great that they have a web based training log, integrated with social networking site to connect and discover through other runners/athletes. Download and compare the app for yourself

  4. Erin Kutz says:

    Hi Jules,

    I wrote the earlier piece on the RunKeeper fitness classes, so I figured I would jump in. The Galloway classes focus on all the training runs leading up to a certain race distance, so it doesn’t only focus on the day-of course. Here’s a look at the training calendars for the classes:

  5. Sergio1980 says:

    Both Apps are nice – but the best one in this field is runtastic PRO (supports heart rate monitor and is more intuitive). Love it

  6. Rudi72 says:

    Sry, but no heart rate!

    runtastic Pro supports heart rate!


  7. Wade, thanks for the article. Congrats on starting to run, it can add 16 years to your active life. (See

    Here are some important capabilities in Runmeter that are not in RunKeeper Pro:
    1) Starting and stopping with your earphone remote control, so you don’t have to fumble with your iPhone at start, finish, and stoplights. You can also get announcements on demand with your earphone remote control.
    2) Ghost racing against your previous best, median, and worst runs along a route.
    3) 20 completely configurable announcements, while RunKeeper only has 4.
    4) Automatic Stop Detection, absolutely required for anybody who also cycles.
    5) Completely configurable Facebook, Twitter, and Email Updates. (RunKeeper has basic functionality, but it’s not configurable.)
    6) iOS Calendar Sharing. (See:
    7) Elevation and pace graphs on the iPhone.
    8) Mass export capabilities in CSV, GPX, and KML. (RunKeeper only exports GPX and KML for single runs.)
    9) An offline mode for people who want to avoid roaming charges.
    10) Speaking Twitter and Facebook replies using text to speech.

    Here is a more complete feature comparison:

    Steve Kusmer
    Abvio, creator of Runmeter, Cyclemeter, and Walkmeter

  8. Wade RoushWade Roush says:

    @Mike — Couch to 5K looks cool. That’s exactly what one of the Jeff Galloway courses does in RunKeeper, to.

    @Jules — Erin grabbed your question. I haven’t tried the Galloway courses yet but it looks like it’s a whole training regimen.

    @Jay, @Sergio1980, @Rudi72 — thanks for the pointers to the other apps. I think you’re right that RunKeeper and Runmeter do not track heart rate. Nike+ does, from what I’ve heard.

    @Steve — thanks for the list, the link to the feature comparison, and the encouragement!

  9. nick says:

    Runkeeper recent releases have been buggy…i lost all my data. There is a new app featured on itunes called called Kinetic, which i tried – no turning back! check out the videos on their website the UI is gorgeous…

  10. Andrea says:

    I use runtastic PRO and it is my favourit app for sports! I love its great features, heart rate integration, voice feedback,… :-)