Should People Actually Be Unhappy With Nike's Redesigned Running App?

Photo: Courtesy of Nike.
Updated August 29, 2016 to include more details about how the Nike+ Running app works.

Never let it be said that runners don't take their technology seriously. Case in point? The Nike+ Running app.

The app, which has between 10 and 50 million installs on Google Play alone, has long been a beloved go-to for runners looking to keep fit and track their exercise. This past week, Nike made a bold move and launched a redesign of the touchstone running application from scratch, renaming it Nike+ Run Club, rearranging some previously existing features, introducing new ones, and removing others.

As with any major change to a beloved piece of technology, not everyone was pleased with the redesign. In reviews of the app on the App Store, users say that the new app is not for "serious running," bemoaning that the redesign has runners set goals based on time ran versus distance. Others say that competitions with friends no longer exist through the app. On Facebook, some complain that they've lost running plans that were in progress and that there are issues with shoe mileage tracking.

Nike is responding to complaints swiftly.

It's clear that some user complaints are just a matter of people getting used to the new app. For example, you can set run goals based on duration, yes, but you can still also set them based on speed, distance, and whether you're running outdoors or on a treadmill, as you could with the previous version of the app.

Challenges with other runners in the Nike community also still exist, but are more geared towards a social media world. You track where you stand on the mileage leaderboard by posting your runs with specific hashtags. For those who would prefer a more straightforward approach, the hashtag challenges can feel like an unnecessary change. But they also make it easier to check out what runners elsewhere are up to in the same way that they make it easy to peek at travel locations on Instagram.

Some of the app's other changes will just take time to sink in. The adaptive coaching that's included is more advanced than prior coaching options, and makes it easier for anyone, especially less experienced runners to develop a training plan. Using information you enter about your current fitness level and what your goals are (are you training for a 5K? A marathon?), the app develops a plan that can adapt to your schedule. But because the app needs to understand more about you for adaptive coaching to work best, it may take a few runs to figure out a good schedule.

Ultimately, there may be some glitches to overcome, as well as tools that Nike will have to reintroduce to gain back some of its most loyal fans. For some experienced runners, the new features may not be welcome, but the app now also better caters the large majority of us who are just getting our running feet wet.

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