A Merry Rogue

One working Dad's journey to find "healthy".

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Android App Comparison: My Tracks vs Cardio Trainer

Since I began biking again, I started using the Google My Tracks app on my Android phone to track my rides. It game me a ton of information.  Total time, moving time, average speed, average moving speed, elevation, max/min grade . . . etc.  So it wasn't until recently that my friend Ted (his blog here) started using Cardio Trainer that I even considered changing to a different app.

I'm not one to count calories of what I eat, but the calories burned, time, distance, speed . . .etc, are all interesting to me.  Unfortunately calories is the one thing that My Tracks does not do (without an additional heart rate attachment anyway).  So to try it out I downloaded Noom Cardio Trainer last night.  This morning for my bike commute to work, started up both of them to track my ride.

Here is a link to both of them uploaded to Google Maps:

05/10/12 AM Commute (My Tracks)

05/10/2012 AM Commute (Cardio Trainer)


Map & Distance
In both apps, the actual route plotted out on the map was identical and accurate. My Tracks reported the distance as 6.75 miles and Cardio Trainer reported the distance as 6.74.  To investigate I went to Google Maps and plotted out the route myself and got a total of 6.7 miles.  Both appear to be very accurate (they both use Google Maps for their mapping).

My Tracks:  1
Cardio Trainer: 1

Cardio Trainer only gives you one time, whereas My Tracks gives you both Total Time and Moving Time.  What I've found for exercises where you are moving (ie: using the GPS) Cardio Trainer pauses the app when you are not moving.  I am not sure if this stops the calorie calculation or not.  When I am sitting at a stoplight for about 30 seconds, my heart is still beating like crazy, therefore I am still burning calories.  I may have to watch the app more to see if it pauses entirely or if the calorie calculation continues while it is paused.  The other thing I noticed in looking at the map points for Cardio Trainer is that the app has a delay in resuming when paused.  I am unsure what affect this may have on the ride results.

Here are the time results from this morning's ride.

My Tracks:  31:27 Moving Time, 35:18 Total Time
Cardio Trainer:  32:41

Based on time alone (taking out the Calorie calculation question), I have to award the point to My Tracks for this round.

My Tracks:  2
Cardio Trainer:  1

Again, My Tracks provides more data than Cardio Trainer when it comes to speed.  Cardio Trainer provides Average Speed (12.38 mi/h), and Max Speed (24.54 mi/h).  My Tracks provides Average Speed (12.4 mi/h), Average Moving Speed (13.9 mi/h), and Max Speed (28.5 mi/h).

One thing I noticed is that My Track's rounds to the nearest .10th when it uploads from the app to Google Maps.  In checking the app, the Average speed was identical.  The difference in the Max Speed I am unsure of.  It may be due to a difference in the settings for how often the app pings the GPS satellites.

As for accuracy, without purchasing an speedometer for the bike, I can't really verify the accuracy of the speed.  Either way, My Tracks wins this round.

My Tracks:  3
Cardio Trainer:  1

Calories & Ease of Use
This is one area that Cardio Trainer gets a plus due to the fact that the app will calculate your calories burned straight out of the box.  Just go into the settings and input your weight and your set.  My Tracks does not have this option.  So Cardio Trainer gets a point for that.  As for accuracy, I am going to see if I can borrow a heart rate monitor to wear one of these times and see what kind of results I get.

My Tracks requires that you have an external sensor attached (via Bluetooth) in order to track calories burned.  Cardio Trainer has this option as well, but only offers one $80 sensor that you can buy to pair with the app.  My Tracks has 2 sensors it is compatible with, as well as ANT+ (wireless - only available on certain phones), and SRM (power meters, speed, and cadence sensors).  SRM requires ANT+ as well.  If you have the money to spend, My Tracks is a definite plus in the area due to the available options.  Point for My Tracks    

As for ease of use, both are pretty easy to use.  Cardio Trainer has a built in music player, and also allows you to track other exercises that don't use the GPS (point and point).  My Tracks allows you to upload directly to your Google Maps and share with Facebook.  Cardio Trainer allows you to share to Facebook and Twitter and you have a website you can go to and see all of your history (and share from there as well.  There is also a Facebook app for Cardio Trainer and you can find your friends' who use the app as well.

That leaves us at:

My Tracks:  4
Cardio Trainer:  4

All in all, both are very cool apps.  It all depends on what you are looking to get our of the app.  If you are looking for an all around useful app to track all of your different exercises, then Cardio Trainer is the app for you (you can also schedule reminders for your workouts).  If you are just looking for a GPS tool to track your running or biking, then My Tracks might be the one for you.

As for me, the jury is still out.  I'd like to spend a little more time with Cardio Trainer to see if I end up wanting to use it more, or if I just keep going back to My Tracks.  It may also depend on the results of testing the calorie calculation against an actual heart rate monitoring device.


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