Create a CityStrides app

I’ve received a few requests for an app. Actually, most people even assume that it’s an app and are surprised when I explain that it’s just a website for now.

It’ll be a lot of work, but I definitely want to do it. There are a lot of questions, though…

  • I’m not sure if people prefer Android or iOS
  • I’d like to know the specific things you’d want to do in an app.
    • Do you want to use it while running?
    • Do you want it to track your location & give you audio alerts for directions?
    • Do you want it to replace your existing run tracking app? Do you not want it to?
    • When using it while not running, what are the most likely things for you to check (map view, city completion percentage, other people’s progress, etc)?

There are obviously way more questions than just these, but at least we have a start…

If an app were created, I would love to have an audio cue that “cha-chinged” every time I knocked off a new street. That would be cool! However I only bring my phone for long trail runs, just for safety.

TANGENT: I do not run with my phone, I use a Garmin Forerunner 310XT GPS watch, then the data is automatically uploaded to Garmin Connect website. Then an app called Copy my Sports, automatically picks it up and sends it to Runkeeper, then City Strides Picks it up. (I am exhausted just saying all that) I think the Strava connection might be easier as it picks Gamin data automatically. Finding a way to simplify the interface with GPS watches would be a good long term goal.

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The app I would like to see (on iOS) would act very much like many of the mapping apps. I use one called “new My Maps” by Nelson Kwan which can take advantage of the new Google MapsEngine Lite format. It appears this app has been replaced by someone called My Pins (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/my-pins/id783537830?mt=8) which I have not tried.

This is the way I do my CityStrides city coverage today:

(1) review the “Map View” or “City View” of my CityStrides page to see areas that have not yet been run
(2) use Google Maps “My Maps” to draw out a route to cover some number of roads, saving it to my “My Maps” (used to be called “My Places”)
(3) Load the map on said iPhone app (new My Maps) which allows me to track where I am and see the map I traced out
(4) use my Garmin watch for GPS tracking (later, upload to Strava and RunKeeper to be picked up by CityStrides)

This works fine, but step 2 takes a long time. And if I take a wrong turn, or discover a street I missed, I can’t see a trail of where I have been on this run. Oftentimes, I will miss a little section of a street in the middle of my run, so I have to go back another day to pick it up.

What I would rather see is an integrated CityStrides app that shows both “run” and “non-run” streets (maybe in green and red?). This could be overlaid with my planned run for the day. More to the point, I would like to see a bread crumb trail (dotted line) of where I have been so far on the current run. That way I can be sure that I have accomplished my goal for the day.

Showing the “non-run” streets allows me to take a detour if I feel like knocking off an extra street or two that I had not planned.

I don’t need the CityStrides web functionality repeated in a custom app. The difficult part for me in using CityStrides is find nearby streets or landmarks that I have missed.

I contacted Garmin about API access, but they wanted $10k from me for that. :frowning:

Another way that the data could go directly from Garmin to CityStrides is if I added the ability to upload the GPX files directly. I figured this would be kind of a pain, though - exporting the GPX files out of Garmin, then uploading them (potentially one at a time) into CityStrides.

The direct file upload feature would also probably have to come with the ability to log in with just an email address (versus connecting a MapMyRun/RunKeeper/Strava account), which makes the job a little bigger for me.

I kind of consider the GPX upload feature to be inevitable, though. I’m just holding off on it until it becomes urgent (enough requests come in to warrant the effort).

Thank you! This feedback is great.

It sounds like the simplest version of this app is one that displays a map with your run streets marked off somehow & a pin identifying your current location.
The next step outside of that simplest version sounds like it would be drawing, saving, and viewing routes.

I don’t need the CityStrides web functionality repeated in a custom app.

Thanks for mentioning this, it’s really helpful & gives me a good starting point for how I start to think about a CityStrides app.

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I would like to be able to switch shoes easily – I alternate between trail running and street running, and right now I have to keep going back over my runs to try and remember which shoes I wore on which days…

I agree with creubank – I’d like to be able to see which streets have been run…and which have yet to be run!

And a little sound after I knock off a street would indeed be very satisfying.

I use an iPhone, FYI. Thanks for considering our needs and seeking our advice!

I will echo the shoes thing: I run barefoot for short runs and use VFFs for longer runs. I’d like both the website and an app to make it easy to select shoes. I will add that mapmyfitness has an equipment tracker (as does strava), and it would be really nice for the website to import that data when we log in. Maybe that’s not as simple as it sounds.

I am an android user, so any app would have to work there for me to use it. I don’t want to stop using mapmyrun, but an app which notified me when I’d completed a street or when there was a turn coming up which would advance my progress would be really cool. I would use that!

I have also switched apps depending on equipment. Strava has an app which runs on my Samsung Gear watch, and I tried using that for a while. Another change is not out of the question. It would be nice to be able to connect the data from my Strava history with the account I started using mapmyrun.

Hope these ideas help.

I’ve gotten more and more feedback/requests about managing shoes lately, so I decided to start up a new thread for that here. I’ve love your feedback about how to make associating shoes with activities easier.

For me, the first functionality for the app would be to show the streets that I have not run yet. In map view, it could highlight those streets and also the parts of already runned streets that are missing. In list view, it could, using my position, give the distance to those streets.

A second functionality would be to propose an itinerary to go through non-run streets. The idea is that the itinerary would be computed or drawn from the website and sent to the smartphone and then we could tap on streets (either in map view or list view) to include or exclude them from the itinerary based on the actual position and the initial itinerary. This could be completed by a “performance factor” for each run (eg : if you change your itinerary to include streets A and B, you will have to run 1 km more and it will bring you 2% in city 1)

I run with a GPS watch and sometimes bring my phone (for pictures or for safety reasons). I use an android phone. For me the app should complement the website but not have the same functionalities.

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An app should really have something special, to not become a 1-day fly and die within the war with all other apps. I see loads of running apps that really dont have a killer function over the others. There are some differences, but nothing really really outstanding.
Only app that has this is Footpath to me. On iOS you can create routes over walk/bike/etc roads. Really cool to see what you can reach within your regular run.
Now, combining this with looking back what you actually ran, Id say thats a killer function. Live trackng would be better ofcourse.

And then adding all heatmaps of you, your team and the rest as layers on the map, that would be great too!

If you make an app, it doesnt have to replace the website in my opinion. I still go to sites like Strava for the charts and segments and so on. Some things just need a larger screen.

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Agree. I love Footpath, too. And to have it suggest routes to kick off new-to-me streets, as someone else suggested – that would be awesome!

Some relatively easy ideas:

  • It would be really nice to be able to see a list of nearby incomplete streets, sorted by distance.
  • A notification or sound for when you’ve completed a street.
  • A notification or sound for when you’re near an incomplete street.

Some hypotheticals:

  • Navigation to the nearest unfinished node of a street.
  • Being able to input a desired distance, and getting a route to optimize running incomplete streets.
  • Being able to know if you’ve completed a continuous segment of a road, even if there are more segments that don’t directly connect.
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I do not think an app would be worth the investment as I think there are a lot of opportunities on the website and people would pay to subscribe to this, even if just a website for now.

I say this because, a lot of the use cases are covered by other apps except identifying the streets I haven’t run and making a route on that.

I think it would be more beneficial to build that on the website to allow a user to create a route, like strava in explore (which just launched), and export as a GPX. Footpath allows you to import a GPX file.

I think if you do an app, it has to have a gamification angle to it. Just a lot of investment for minimal return.

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The best reason for an app would be to bypass the Strava limitations.

Is the Garmin access money a one time payment or would you have to pay them regularly? I also wonder if they’d be interested in the opposite, where they incorporate your site and data to their Connect app. You’d get direct access to the data, and they get to add another seeking feature to Connect.

I guess, what would prevent them from just spinning up the same reporting since they already have all of the data CityStrides has?

Personally I don’t run with a phone; I would not want it to replace my preferred method of run tracking (Garmin watch -> Garmin connect app -> Strava app). That said, I think it would be smart to include features for those that do run with phones, such as being able to load a pre-planned run to phone (I actually would potentially use that feature to view the map if traveling, just wouldn’t bring with me), to see progress on a pre-planned route, notification of nearby streets one hasn’t completed, notification when a street is completed, etc. I use iOS; ideally could be available for both Android/iOS.

Unlike some others, I actually would want an app to repeat the main features available on the website, since the main point to me would be convenience/not being tied to a computer (especially if traveling). I would want to review progress towards goals, view map of completed/uncompleted streets, and also to see others’ progress. I picture a stats summary page, but also the ability to easily toggle between different cities, etc. for map view, city completion %. (Would also be fun to be able to share this with others; does not even necessarily have to be an integrated feature, if viewable on a phone, could screenshot and text any of the above to someone easily.)

One of the main things that’s missing IMO would be social features. (In general, but seems particularly relevant given the pandemic/social distancing/race cancelations/etc). Would love to have a team feature (with privacy settings to allow sharing info with just ‘friends’ or team members) with ability to work towards completing a city with a group. Maybe each team member’s completed streets show up as a different color on overlap heat map?

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Hi @Lil_P, welcome to CityStrides (or welcome to the forum posts, if you’ve already been here for some time) :grinning:

You covered a lot of great information and ideas in your post, many of which are particularly relevant to the topic of making a CityStrides app. Just wanted to highlight some existing threads that may be helpful for context of what’s already been discussed on the site. Hopefully these links can help direct some of these ideas and inquiries for further discussion in the appropriate places. Also may be helpful to check out the Searching the Forum post.


Check out the following threads on this topic:

This feature exists, and is available to subscribers (become one today!): Node Hunter. Paired with LifeMap Live, you are able to see all the uncompleted streets around you at any point in time, or you can plan routes based on the incomplete nodes from home.

This feature exists, and gives a complete list of your recently completed streets. Jim’s discussion about it is here. The page for each activity also lists the completed streets.

This is already possible without being tied to a computer: just visit https://citystrides.com/ on your device to access everything you’ve mentioned here.

You can share any post on CityStrides with anyone you want already! The highlighted feature below provides a link to the post. Otherwise, as you said, screenshots of anywhere on the webpage is how I share information from CityStrides with others.

image

There is a thread dedicated to this topic here: More Social Interaction. This would be a good place to share your ideas with other Striders and Jim, and continue this conversation.

  • Team Completion: a few others have asked about this same idea. You could post here to explore the idea further.
  • Compiled Community Map: idea to see every street in a given city done by any Strider, ever. A bit tangential to your point, but I think still related
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I read most of this, thinking, “An app does not seem so exciting to me.” But then, today, I noticed something about accessing www.citystrides.com via the Edge browser on my Android phone.

When I come to CS, the thing I look at first, is my “MOST RECENT ACTIVITIES”

But when I do this on my phone, I must scroll down past all the “RECENTLY COMPLETED STREETS IN THE LAST WEEK”, and then the even longer list of “RECENTLY COMPLETED STREETS IN THE LAST MONTH”

Then I get to see “MOST RECENT ACTIVITIES”, which are mine and what I’m curious about.

I suspect this could be fixed with a new layout, by swapping the left side of the page with the right.

I should also mention that I do have the “Get the most out of CityStrides” box on my page, as I’m still waiting for this expense to be approved by my finance dept. (AKA, my wife).

Oh, by bookmarking my specific CS user page, the scrolling is less, but I do still have to scroll past the paid ad (by Google), the CS purple box, the cities I have streets in, and then I get to my most recent activities.

Page re-layout here would not be fair, as the ads help with the costs. Hopefully I’ll have funding approved, and pages will improve a little (no ads, no purple box).

Lastly, I’m trying to get a friend of mine interested in CS. Why? He is a top notch Android developer and lecturer. Even has a book or two out on the subject (not sure if #2 is published yet). I believe one even has a chapter on OSM. Only problem is, he’s more a rider than a strider, and a gravel rider at that. It’s a tough sell.

I pointed him to this post, so hopefully he can read it without signing in.

PS. The node hunter aspect is most intriguing. Being warned that I’m walking away from a node would be cool. Lately I’ve been doing streets where 1 missed node means the threshold is not met for completion. In one case, the node was on the other side of a 4 lane road with a median. OSM map problem I suspect, but I did have to go back for it. I’m trying for no manual nodes. So "YATMAN (Your About To Miss A Node) feature would be cool!

I would love an app. I currently have an Android. I’m not likely to replace my running app (Garmin, Strava) but would love to be able to pull up the map and see if i “caught the nodes” near me or help to find some of the old roads that are tracked in City Strides but are really goat paths now.
Thank you,
EK

What functionality would you want to see in an app that isn’t currently available accessing CS through your phone’s Chrome browser?

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