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Strava’s latest update: What I love; what bugs me

The latest version of Strava offers easier access to a lot of actionable data. But one thing is still omitted and it bugs me.

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Strava overhauled its mobile app recently, updating the navigation and several of the user data presentation features to be very similar to the data presented in year-end summaries. The buttons along the bottom of the screen now offer quick links to jump to the most-used sections, where most of the significant changes are available.

This latest update is being pushed as a phased rollout, so if you do not see your app update, you should soon.

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I’ve been using the updated app for two weeks, since it was released to a public beta test group on March 24. In that time, I’ve compared the updated app side-by-side with the previous version of the app on a different iPhone to view my activities and the corresponding data, and how the updates changed my experience. While some of the features and information displayed remained unchanged in the new version, there are some significant changes that make viewing trends a lot easier.

Most notable in the recent update is the easy access to data visualization features previously made available only at the end of the calendar year.

The features in the Progress subsection accessed by tapping the You button display ride time, distance, and elevation for the current calendar week, and also for the most recent 12 weeks. On this screen, one can tap the indicator for a specific week to view the amount of distance, time, and elevation ridden. I think this is handy for week-over-week comparison, as well as viewing long-term trends.

This data presentation has a very similar feel to the Strava summary sent annually in December, but now the same kind of data presentation is available any time for subscribers.

The summary data provided in the most recent Strava update is useful for viewing activities and trends. Photo: Greg Kaplan

Another one of the cool things about the latest update is the streamlined presentation of all one’s activities.

You can thumb through a chronological list with the most recent activity on top, or view activities filtered by month, type, or duration. Where the latest update really shows strength is the search functionality which has been enhanced since the previous update and allows for searching by date range, activity type, duration range, distance range, elevation gain, and more. The latest update does not specifically add new functionality but makes existing features easier to find and use on a frequent basis.

But the one thing that bugs me

I understand that the route creation feature in the maps section is very challenging to use on a mobile phone—it’s close to impossible to draw exactly where you want to go on a tiny map, so difficulty with using this feature on mobile is no surprise.

But, with all of these new and updated features, the thing that bugs me is the continued inability to manage gear from the mobile app. It’s not a new issue, and it’s not a deal-breaker, but it is one that seems to have yet again been overlooked by Strava. Yeah, I can use the browser on my phone to hit the Strava website and manage gear as I would on my laptop. But this is a sub-optimal experience.

Managing a list of gear, with form fields, radio buttons, and dropdown menus is functionality already available in the app for other features. The addition of this feature has been near the top of my wish list for some time, and alas with the latest version of Strava, it’s still not a reality.

While it’s possible to manage gear in Strava from a mobile device, the experience using the Strava desktop interface on mobile (right) is far from optimal. Photo: Greg Kaplan

I want to be able to set what bike I’m riding in the app after a ride, but I’m selecting from a list created in the desktop version of Strava. And I want Strava to not only add this to the mobile experience, I want them to make it a robust tool for managing my bike things.

The ability to manage bikes from the mobile app, as well as the ability to select from different sets of wheels — and why not tires, shoes, and other gear items — to track use would be really useful. Garmin Connect mobile provides this functionality in its app, but I’m a big fan of using a single app to track all my data in one place (are you listening, Strava?)

Adding a feature to allow the management of cycling equipment — adding and updating bikes in one’s list of equipment—would be a really handy update.