So you got that shiny new iPhone or rocking Android Honeycomb-driven phone and don’t know what to load on it, huh? Well, as an appaholic, I can give you some insight into the literally hundreds of apps I’ve tried for both platforms. What I’ve found in general is that you get what you pay for. That’s not to say there are no good free apps out there, but the majority of the good ones aren’t free. (Go figure, otherwise how would anyone be able to afford to develop them right?)
Here’s a few cycling-related apps for the iPhone that I really like.
Strava is a super simple and accurate tracking app that works on iPhones and Android devices. In the field, you’ll get a real time report of mileage, average speed, max speed and elevation gain. You can upload your stats directly to the website from the phone and when you get home, you can check out even more details such as ride segments and great maps. But what’s really cool about Strava is the ability to join up with groups and friends at the Strava website where you can track and compete with your friends. If you don’t have a bluetooth heart rate monitor for your phone, then you’ll be happy with just a basic free membership to Strava. Strava also works with just about every Garmin device on the market.
CrowdCall is a simple, free app for iPhones and Android devices that lets you create live teleconferences with up to 20 of your buddies at a time. This is a great tool for planning out group rides, calling everybody to inform them of a last minute event change, etc. You simply pay for the calls themselves. But honestly, who doesn’t have unlimited nationwide free calling these days on their cellular plan?
Why waste your money on individual songs or albums at iTunes when you can “rent” as many titles as you want for $9.99/month? Not only can you build a virtually unlimited catalog of songs, but you can also download playlists to your phone for offline use. This is especially useful when you’re out mountain biking beyond normal cellular range and really helps to extend the battery life. On top of that, everything is synced between your phone and your computer(s) at home. Spotify is like Pandora on steroids!
For GPS trail guidance on your iPhone or Android device, Everytrail is the best tool I’ve found. At home you can browse for trail routes near your home or destination. Once you “Favorite” a trip or guide, it’s automatically sycned to your phone. And using your fast wi-fi connection at home, you can download maps of the route for offline use. That means you can have full topographical maps of your route without a cellular connection. And if you’ve ever tried using Google maps where there’s no coverage, you know just how important this is! There’s a free version of the software to try out most of the features, but for offline capabilities, you’ll need the Pro version ($3.99). The coolest part of this app is the ability to create routes and snap photos along the way. Every photo is geotagged so you’ll know exactly where all those critical turns are for future rides in the great outdoors.
The Weather Channel
Let’s face it, the weather app that came pre-loaded on your iPhone sucks. If you really want useful information, you have to go do the source. And the Weather Channel is among the best out there for accurate, real-time weather data. The free version of the software is sufficient for most people. You can even see real time radar imagery that shows you just how close and powerful a storm is near you. For the super-weather geeks, you can get The Weather Channel® Max edition for $3.99 that strips out the ads and packs in a bunch more features.
We’ve all been there at some point: in the middle of nowhere with no idea where to find gas. Not only will you be able to find gas, but for the penny pinchers out there, you can find that cheapest gas station 20 miles away from you!
WebAlbums for iPhones
WebAlbums provides full integration between your iPhone and your PicassaWeb photo account. Snap and upload photos on the go. Share your web albums with friends and family on your phone. Or share albums and photos via email or Facebook posts. And if you happen to be a Google+ user, all your photos can be automatically synced to your Google+ account. This $2.99 app really packs a punch!
Got any other great apps for your phone that you think I should check out? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the software.