New this month in the Windows Marketplace is Cyclocomp, a tracking application aimed at cyclists - but joggers, runners, and other mobile fitness fans could find some value in here. It's a nice piece of code, that does the job of tracking where you cycle and for how long, but it's missing a few tricks in terms of functionality, and I'm struggling to find enough confidence in the application to commit to it.
Version Reviewed: 126.96.36.199
First up, Cyclocomp does the main task that it sets out to do, which is record where you cycle. Using the built in GPS on your smartphone, the application will take note of the length of your trip, top speed and altitude, along with giving you a readout of your current speed and altitude while you are on the trip. You can also decide if you want a moving map shown of your travels. This is an option when you start a trip, and I've always left it on, as you can swipe between the map and the dashboard screen as required.
You can pause the counters as required, and at the end of a trip the details can be deleted or saved to your profile on the phone. I like that you can set up multiple profiles on your phone if you want to share the tracking, or maybe want one for "cycling to work" and another for "leisure time".
Here's where Cyclocomp starts to let itself down. There's no way to move the profile off the phone, be it to a web service, or a plain text email. Neither is there a way to import data. If I switch to another handset in the near future (likely in my case), then I'll be starting my profile from scratch again. If I lose my phone, or it has to be hard reset, then it's goodbye to my data.
Data like this is very personal, but it's also the basis of doing a lot of exercising - keeping records is important so you can see not only where you need to improve, but to prove that you are improving and it's all worthwhile. That's very important to me, so any application that puts my data at risk is going to have me worried.
Neither is this worry over data restricted to a long term view. An exercise application needs to be running all the time, and that means coping with foreground and background running. Actual background running, and not some nifty trick to get around Windows Phone's app tombstoning.
Cyclocomp does request that you let it run under the lock screen, but doesn't offer itself as an application that can be set as a background task in the Windows Phone settings. On returning to the application from the live tile or start menu, you'll have a small button that allows you to resume the last ride if you wish, although this just appears to be an extrapolation of the data from the last known location and your current location.
In short, Cyclocomp does provide a dashboard when you are out and about, but I've little confidence in its ability to record and preserve my data. That mental block is enough to stop me using the application. Having to open up Cyclocomp the 'correct' way at the end of a ride is asking for it to get screwed up once in a while. That adds friction to using the application.
You can set distance goals in the application, which are shown on the Live Tile.
The same multitasking problem is present in every other fitness tracker on Windows Phone, such as STT's Sports Tracker, and every one of them has to jump through the same hoop. In my mind that means these apps need to be delivering much greater value than simply tracking. Sports Tracker is still causing me issues on Windows Phone (and it's one reason I still carry a Symbian-powered Nokia C6-01 with me, where Sports Tracker is rock solid). For Cyclocomp to offer less features, an imperfect interface, and at the same price (free), that makes it an uphill struggle.
By all means download it and take a look at it yourself, but Cyclocomp still doesn't solve my problem of cycle tracking on Windows Phone. And I doubt the problem will be solved by any Windows Phone 7 device. Sadly.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at