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Old 12-02-09, 01:16 PM   #1
robapp
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Cycling Computers on Cellphones

I was wondering if anyone else has tried this and what they thought about it. I use a program called velocomputer on my Blackberry Storm and it does everything I need (distance, position, speed, acceleration, cadence). Do you guys prefer hardware specifically designed for the task? Cause I kinda love multitaskers, and anything that can roll a couple of gadgets into one I usually pursue. So yeah, any other cellphone apps you think are awesome?

I work for velocomputer, but I also use it and enjoy it quite a bit.

Rob
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Old 12-02-09, 01:35 PM   #2
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I use a garmin 305. My phone is a Storm, but half the programs I've tried to run that use GPS (Trimble, etc) all seem to have trouble with the fact my phone is running off a corporate BES server. Even though we're running a default profile, seems there's some issue with the service books that have yet to find a company that had the tech support to sort out.

Other issue is the Storm battery life sucks when using the GPS for long.

And I'm an enterprise admin, so not like I couldn't change what needed to be changed
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Old 12-02-09, 01:36 PM   #3
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There is a plethora of bike apps on the iPhone. So far I haven't used any of them, but the one that seems to get the most positive notices is MotionX GPS.

An unfortunate limitation of every phone-based cyclometer is that (AFAIK) no phone has built-in support for the ANT+ wireless protocol that HRM sensors and rotation counters use. I do know of a sort of ANT+ gateway for the iPhone that rebroadcasts the ANT+ signal over wifi, and interfaces with a few apps that way, but that's an inefficient approach. I'm waiting for an ANT+ product that plugs into the accessory port. Preferably with a built-in battery pack to make up for the lousy battery life.
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Old 12-02-09, 02:28 PM   #4
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I've found the smartphones to be amazing, but since they're not really built as a cyclocomputer, they still need some work. I've used MapMyRide and MotionXGPS on the iPhone and have some fairly good success with it in terms of reporting Speed, Time, and the track followed. MapMyRide even uploads to their site for you.

However, the GPS runs down the battery in about two hours if you're on a full charge, and if you want to take a break and play with phone, well, these apps don't run in the background. I had the Garmin Edge long before I got the iPhone. The iphone didn't impress me enough to stop using the Garmin. I suppose for Running, it might be worth using the phone, but for cycling, where grade, ascent, cadence, and heart rate are part of the fitness fun, the apps aren't there yet.

My guess is that whatever routine Garmin is using to pick up the satellites and log the data is saving the battery somehow. Not sure if the apps coders have figured that out.
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Old 12-02-09, 02:57 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by adamrice View Post
There is a plethora of bike apps on the iPhone. So far I haven't used any of them, but the one that seems to get the most positive notices is MotionX GPS.

An unfortunate limitation of every phone-based cyclometer is that (AFAIK) no phone has built-in support for the ANT+ wireless protocol that HRM sensors and rotation counters use. I do know of a sort of ANT+ gateway for the iPhone that rebroadcasts the ANT+ signal over wifi, and interfaces with a few apps that way, but that's an inefficient approach. I'm waiting for an ANT+ product that plugs into the accessory port. Preferably with a built-in battery pack to make up for the lousy battery life.
Thats why we stay away from the iPhone (for the moment) there are severe limitations on what you can do with the hardware, like programs running in the background and the like. We like producing for the competitors because they have a more open architecture, but they are much more varied in what they offer component wise. Ant+ is such a cool technology, a low powered networking solution that I'm hoping will enjoy widespread adoption in the mobile space. Right now we are currently limited to bluetooth syncing.

One of the ways velocomputer tries to tackle this is it incorporates more sensing technology into the device itself. The GPS can function as distance, speed, and acceleration while the accelerometer tracks cadence.
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Old 12-02-09, 03:05 PM   #6
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I've experienced some of the same stuff on my BlackBerry from time to time, the way I solve the whole battery thing is that I shut down as many features as possible that I am not using. Stuff like the phone transceiver, radio, wifi. Anything I wouldn't need on my commute to the office. But truth be told I could probably operate without that because my BlackBerry goes from the home dock to the office dock in under 2 hours. For longer excursions I definately do the aforementioned to great success.
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Old 12-02-09, 03:08 PM   #7
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I use nokia sports tracker sometimes, and it does a pretty good job. The speed it reports is always different from my cycle computer but I guess that is the GPS inaccuracies or the cycle computer mis-configuration. Either way it isn't an issue really. Good for seeing your routes and elevation and your speed along the route. I like data!
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Old 12-02-09, 04:51 PM   #8
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While I appreciate the idea of a multi-use device, the dedicated devices just work so much better.

Cycling apps on phones don't have a realistic battery life, especially on the iPhone. None of the devices mount well to the bike, exposing the phone to lots of crap it's not designed to tolerate for long, and put your potential lifeline (the cell phone) at risk in an emergency. Most phones are bigger than even the Garmin Edge, which is a big honkin' box for a bike computer.

Besides, the apps I've seen for the iPhone are just not accurate enough as cyclocomputers. There's none I've seen that can do HR, cadence, and elevation data.

What's not to like?
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Old 12-02-09, 06:25 PM   #9
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While I appreciate the idea of a multi-use device, the dedicated devices just work so much better.

Cycling apps on phones don't have a realistic battery life, especially on the iPhone. None of the devices mount well to the bike, exposing the phone to lots of crap it's not designed to tolerate for long, and put your potential lifeline (the cell phone) at risk in an emergency. Most phones are bigger than even the Garmin Edge, which is a big honkin' box for a bike computer.

Besides, the apps I've seen for the iPhone are just not accurate enough as cyclocomputers. There's none I've seen that can do HR, cadence, and elevation data.

What's not to like?
Yeah, I would never mount my blackberry on my bike, I have a thigh holster, and the program I use has this audible function with this custom feature that lets you play sound files when your metrics change (cadence, acceleration, speed), it reduces the need to look at your screen as often, but it also protects the phone.
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Old 12-04-09, 01:20 AM   #10
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Tried 'em.

No, I don't need to drain my phone's battery with a program that has nothing to do with it being a phone.

Besides, it just doesn't last long enough. If I'm going far enough away that I want to use GPS, I'll be gone for quite a while, and the constant data transfer eats the battery no matter what you're using.
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