The big oddity, looking at Android Wear smartwatches for outdoor activities or sports: They are not really made for that.

Not, at least, the way that Suunto, Garmin or Polar watches are built around sports functions.

With Android Wear, the major portion of sports or outdoors functionality comes only with apps. With the ProTrek Smart, that at least starts with the outdoor/location apps from Casio, but for a runner or even just serious hiker, it takes apps from other creators.

The advantage:
It is possible to get functions which the watch maker did not think of or plan for.

The disadvantage:
The functions are not all taylor-made for the product, and so they don’t necessarily work the way one might want them to.

All the more interesting and important to show and tell.

My App Recommendations

A quick overview of my recommendations – and of apps which I’d suggest having a look at, if maybe just to see how/why they might not be the best:

Ghostracer, Maps, Viewranger, Strava, Runtastic, Sports Tracker… – more below.

Ghostracer

Ghostracer is not as easy to use as one might want, especially when it comes to more-special features – but at least that’s because it offers a lot.

The sensors of the watch as well as a Bluetooth heart rate strapppp can be used; it is possible to see and record the data one wants to have shown and recorded (customized in the smartphone app); it is possible to display a route to follow… and that, in a very interesting way.

The app isn’t the most stable, though; there are regular problems with it, all the way to complete breakdowns…

Viewranger

The maps one could get from/on Viewranger on a smartphone are great. Routes could often be found straight in the app.

Navigation should, if I remember correctly, also be possible quite well – but then, the recording of a track only seems to work with a smartphone. The Android Wear-App only offers a button too start the recording on the smartphone.

Or is that not how it works? Even that is hard to tell. Not. Good.

Strava

Strava is quite the must-have for the modern runner or cyclist, but the app is only so-so.

For getting record(ing)s and immediately having them synced with one’s Strava account, it’s nice; the most important data is being displayed, too, and it is possible to use the app stand-alone with just the watch (and its GPS).

However, the Strava app only works with an optical heart rate sensor on a smartwatch, which the Casio ProTrek Smart does not have, not with an external HR belt (at least, for all that I know). There also seems not to be any way of customizing the screens…

Runtastic

Runtastic is rather nice, just finds whatever Bluetooth HR belt is nearby (with all the trouble that can cause when in a crowd at a beginning of a marathon), and uses a very interesting system for adjusting the screen: Just hold on a data field, and the display of possible data that can be displayed there is shown for your selection.

Runtastic is a walled garden that loves to keep data to itself, however. Even just sharing with Strava requires individual data exports – and who’d want to be forced into one system alone?

Sports Tracker

Sports Tracker was odd. I’m quite sure I remember it working (having worked) rather like Viewranger does when it comes to recording data.

It certainly does not work like that anymore. There is a lot that can be done with it now, at least where data from a run or other workout and its recording is concerned, including data from a Bluetooth HR belt.

This app is worth a closer look – but I may also be swayed by Suunto having bought Sports Tracker and them being at work on a new app for Suunto now…

 

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