3-ipod

I’m a bit of a gadget freak and HAD to have an iPhone when the 3G model first came out.   Since version 3.0 of the iPhone OS was just released today and the iPhone 3Gs will be all the buzz  tomorrow, I thought I’d talk about how the iPhone has revolutionized the sport of cycling.  Well okay…not exactly.

The iPhone leaves a lot to be desired, but it certainly has raised the bar in terms of what a smartphone can be and has forced the other handset manufacturers to step up to the challenge.  iPhone 3.0 now gives most of the basic functionality that we expect from a phone, but it also has heaps of other good stuff packed inside it as well.

Here are a few features, functionalities and apps that I find useful (or I’ve heard that are useful) for when you’re out on the bike:

Features/Functionality

- Remote control headphones. You know those headphones that come with the iPhone?  The microphone that you can press to answer and hang up calls can also be used to pause, advance or step back in songs on your iPod.  This is handy when you’re out riding.  I shouldn’t have to tell you the group riding ediquette when music is in the ears…

- Camera.  Like most phone cameras, the iPhone camera stinks, and I’m guessing that it’ll continue to stink until it gets a decent lens (which is nearly impossible).   However, if you come across some sensational view up at the top of your favorite climb and you want snap a “What You Missed This Morning” pic, Lightroom can usually salvage it to get it looking half decent.

- Email – so you can look like you’re working when you’ve taken off early to go riding.

- Internet - so you can check the weather radar for rain

- Google Maps. Because I’m directionally challenged.

- Digital Compass (iPhone 3GS).  Again, for the directionally challenged.

Apps

There’s getting to be heaps of apps on iTunes available for cycling. I can’t say that I’ve tried all of them but here’s a few that add value:

iMapMyRide

mapmyride1

Description: Uses the built in GPS from your iPhone to help you achieve your fitness goals.  Real-time tracking with distance, time, place, speed display.  Viewing of your training log and routes on MapMyRide.com.  No need to buy additional hardware.

iTunes Rating: 2.5

Price: FREE (ad supported)

My Opinion: I absolutely love the idea of what it could be, but I think it could be so much better if the developers understood a few more things about how the mobile network infrastructure works and how the handset fits into it (this is what I do for a living so I have an opinion on this). iMapMyRide constantly tries to access my 3G data connection (when most people are out riding in a GPRS area, not a 3G area), it drains my battery, and shuts down if I get a phone call or SMS (this is Apple’s fault), fails when I try to save workouts…quite a few bugs to be worked out.

mapmyride2

Cychosis

cychosis

Description: Cychosis is a journal and log for cycling.  Does not use or require a device with GPS.

iTunes Rating: 4+

Price: $5.99 (AUD)

My Opinion: Pretty basic but a good workout journal if that’s what you’re looking for.  I already have something that I use for this on my home computer so I don’t really have a use for it.  The many positive reviews on iTunes caught my eye enough to look into it though.

cychosis2

Bike Power

bikepower

Description: An app that estimates your power output.

iTunes Rating: no ratings yet

Price: $4.99 (AUD)

My Opinion: I haven’t tried this as I already have a powermeter, but I’d definitely like someone to buy this and go for a ride with me so we could see how accurate it is. Of course I know that it would be impossible to accurately calculate power output without some more sensors on the iPhone, but it would be interesting to see how close it comes.

bikepower2

Bicycle Gear Calculator

gearsDescription: Evaluate current or potential Gearing Ratios, calculate Gain Ratios, Gear Inches, and Development. Use the Skid Patch Analyzer to visualize and minimize your fixed-gear’s tire wear. Explore equivalent gearing configurations that let you reuse parts you already have.

iTunes Rating: 4+

Price: $5.99 (AUD)

My Opinion: I use this when I’m racing on the track to figure out what gear ratios I need to put on. I think it’s a pretty simple and useful little app.  I had no idea what a “skid patch” was until I picked this up.

gears2

B.iCycle

bicycleDescription: Speed, altitude, calories, GPS mapping, etc.  Basically the same as MapMyRide from the sounds of it.

iTunes Rating: 4+

Price: $12.99 (AUD)

My Opinion: Haven’t felt the urge to put $13 on the line for this, but I’d be interested to hear from someone who has. The iTunes reviews are certainly positive.  This may be the good alternative to MapMyRide.

bicycle21

Cycling Tips

cyclingtipsCycling Tips optimized for iPhone!  How could I give up the chance to shamelessly plug my own site?  Isn’t it obvious that this is what I was building up to?  I did this because I was trying to land my dream job at the Lonely Planet and tried to show them that I was an iPhone app saavy tech geek.  Didn’t get the job and they probably never even noticed this site, but as it turns out about 1000 people a day get their daily Cycling Tips via their iPhone!

cyclingtips