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Nokia Sports Tracker
Nokia has always been keen on developing extra applications for it handsets, and with the advent of new in-phone GPS-receivers on S60 platform, new applications embracing their capabilities have begun coming out. Giving it a go, the company has presented Sports Tracker, the application capable of reading data from GPS-receiver and linking them to your workouts. First of all it will be interesting for those, who is into jogging, cycling or doing some other kind of activity with anything he/she has at hand. In fact, there are no restrictions for use of the application – it will easily get along with all devices running Symbian platform third edition and the following Feature Packs. There is no substantial difference between built-in and stand-alone receivers, though - the application handles both with ease. In the case of an external unit, when switching on workout mode, Bluetooth engages automatically and the application searches for available devices, then you are offered to enter access code and after you may start working. I should say that the application is more of a concept rather than a polished and shining commercial product. A handful of tiny details, such as inability to memorize once-paired Bluetooth devices and connect to them automatically, prove this. I.e. while the application works in background mode, you have to do nothing, but once you shut it down, you need enter access code for the external receiver all over again.
The application window can be viewed both in portrait and landscape modes, for rotation, menu is used. For the time being you can not enter more than one user, developers have regarded this app as a more personalized tool. As for me, in the majority of cases it is quite so. But imagine a large family that buys a sport-minded handset and it is passed from one member to another on demand, a family handset in a way. And examples abound when it comes to Nokia’s protected models. What that’s the case, new user addition option is quite reasonable, thankfully, rectifying this is not a big deal.
Your humble servant is spoilt by various devices providing built in pedometers and the ability to enter personal data. The basics include your height and weight, and then the device calculates how many calories you have burnt. Though the advanced units feature speed adjustment, etc. As of today, Nokia Sport Tracker does offer nothing like that. Perhaps such data fields and calculations will make it to the application in the forthcoming versions as it would be quite interesting for active users. Today the application is only capable of measuring the results and has nothing to do with data processing, if we don’t count graphics for some kind of this.
The menu boasts 6 kinds of sports with 4 of them being pre-installed – walking, running, cycling and skiing. For two others you may set up the minimal number of options, the most important one makes the application stop tracking your numbers when your speed becomes less than 1 km/h (2 or 5 km/h are also available, or you can disable this setting). Auto pause is very vital as otherwise speed and time ratio will not be calculated correctly.
To begin a workout you need to select the mode and launch it. Listing additional settings, we should note auto laps counter, when your route repeats over and over again, in this case information about the time of each lap passed will be available. Your may also define your goal, for that data from the previous workouts are used. For example, you cannot set some kilometers just like that, although in some cases it would have been quite useful. The absence of this function is one more proof that the app is tailored to measure in the first place rather than analyze.
In course of workout the main screen displays time, average speed, altitude and distance covered. Moving joystick or navi-pad you may quickly switch between view modes, particularly you may select route plotting from the starting point. On one of the screens you are free to view your coordinates, course and speed.
The diagrams show such variables as speed and time ratio (speed vs time), speed and distance ratio (speed vs distance), altitude and distance ratio (altitude vs distance). The route map is scaleable. For each training you might want to use replay mode, at that you are also free to view any of the windows and vary viewing speed. This mode is also handy for understanding how your speed has been changing over time, for sportsmen it will be pretty interesting.
All entries are automatically included into the training diary for respective dates, then you may view them. Results of each workout can be saved as XML-files or converted for use with Google Maps. At that in the latter case you can overlay your data on a local map or a snap from satellite.
This app shouldn’t be regarded as a commercial product ready for full-fledged usage; it is only a first step in the right direction. On the downside, the application is destined only for measurements and can’t handle data analysis. On top of the workout diary we would also love to see calories burnt, and ability to enter various parameters (weather, temperature and so on) in order to make Nokia Sports Tracker more useful for both common people and professional sportsmen. In view of Nokia Wellness Diary omitting the calories counter and data on food, beverages etc., we can easily spot the trend for simplification of such applications.
For daily use, this app will best fit Nokia-branded devices sporting GPS-receiver onboard. It is quite difficult to carry the handset and an external GPS-receiver while running but when skiing and cycling it is quite possible.
Now let’s wait and see what functions the manufacturer will add in the next versions, since the today’s application has all the makings of a very fetching product aimed at the wider audience. Regardless of how it turns out, the company has chosen right course for application development.
Published - 11 May 2006
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