Overview and Impressions
Strava Running and Cycling GPS available for iOS and Android is an app created by Strava Inc. to help users track their running and cycling activity, encouraging users to "Join for the tracking, stay for the community". The app has some pretty sophisticated features and stat tracking capabilities, coupled with a social networking community. After all, it heralds itself as "more than a tracking app - [it] is the social network for athletes".
Strava allows tracking relevant stats for a runner or cyclist during their activity. Distance, average speed, time, calories burned, elevation specs (min, max, gain) and even heart rate are metrics that can be displayed.
This info can be private for just the user, but also public so other "athletes" on the app can view your stats and everyone can see how your activity in a given area compares to your peers through leaderboards. You can share these metrics to your other favorite social media outlets as well. There is a website to accompany the app which offers a few more customizations not seen in app, such as logging your recent activity more appropriately as a a hike, walk, alpine or backcountry ski, canoeing, crossfit, and ebike ride.
When it comes to the data Strava handles and displays, the app itself can measure some on its own thanks to the built-in features found in smartphones like GPS. For data like heart rate, Strava syncs with your other wearables like your Apple Watch, FitBit, TomTom, etc. that measure these specs then ports it into your profile for your convenience.
When it comes to the social component, besides being able to follow other athletes (remember, you're an athlete on this app), you can join clubs. There are clubs for similar activity interests, others for those that use similar gear, and others that may be for those in your physical community. The app strongly encourages making activities you log using the app public, so that it adds data to the community and opens the door to the gamification-related framework.
A way Strava encourages an outdoor, active lifestyle (and why I love this app design) is through Challenges and Trophies. At any given time there are challenges that, if completed, award the user with a trophy that goes into their virtual trophy case. On a given activity if a user accomplishes a personal best or a top time, they can earn badges as well.
Each user on the app has a trophy case displaying achievements and challenges accomplished/won. What I find to be a great use of the Challenge feature is that some are designed to mirror actual live events. For example, during the Tour de France, Strava has been known to make a daily challenge available with similar difficulties as that day's Tour de France stage. Users opted into the challenges, and if they were able to accomplish all challenges held during the days of the Tour, they were not only given a Trophy but were also awarded with a physical yellow jersey that they exclusively were able to purchase. Other challenges, like one being offered right now by a sponsor, awards one lucky winner who cycles a minimum 30km in one month a seat in an official VIP car following the Vuelta (bike race).
I would highly recommend this app to those who cycle and run, and sometimes need that extra little motivation to get them active or like a lot of objective data from their workouts. It's fun to compete in the public challenges, and see how compare to others in your neighborhood and famous routes.
While you can use the app for other activities like alpine skiing, until you can log these appropriately from the app and not post hoc on the computer, it's not really user friendly. Besides, I've heard the app doesn't log speeds and distances too well for activities beyond running or biking, so you're better served using something more specific for those activities, like Ski Tracks for your skiing. There are only running and biking challenges offered, another tip off that this is ideal for those two sports but not much else.
An annoyance for me is how the trophy case is only viewable from the website and not in-app. I would like to be able to see all my accomplishment and challenge trophies or my progress towards them, and be able to see other athletes's trophy cases so I can compare and compete.
Given all the data the app collects, this app could be used to track student's exercise during the week to ensure they're getting enough exercise (presuming they have smartphones available). Given the ability to follow other athletes and join groups, a classroom or school could join in on challenges together or create custom groups for their own community competitions. Even if the app wasn't used and just the data was analyzed by students, it's a good real-life example of ways math and science can be applied to daily life for health benefits.