Developer: Nike, Inc. (iDP) 1
Price: free Download on the App Store
Nike+ GPS is a study in appropriate technology. The first upgrade that long-time users of the Nike+ GPS app will notice is that the iPhone is now doing what the iPhone has been able to do for a long time: tell where you are. Runners tend not to want things in their shoes other than their feet and socks. Nike initially ignored this, insisting that you have a gizmo in your shoe talking to satellites and then telling your iPhone about it second-hand. Now your iPhone talks to the satellites and then talks to you.
Nike also allows your iPhone to convey motivational messages from celebrity jocks. Some users find this motivating, I suppose. Others feel that Lance Armstrong may not, in fact, be impressed in their newfound ability to run seven miles, and therefore find it annoying. Fortunately, you can also rely on a variety of computer voices to give you motivational messages. Well, that's the twenty-first century for ya: anybody but someone you know is supposed to be your social network, right?
Wrong! Nike+ GPS keeps track of your fastest time, longest runs, etc., and posts them on the Nike website or Facebook, wherever your runner friends compete. Now that's motivation—bragging rights among a small group of friends may never have won anybody a gold medal or a Super Bowl, but they've helped legions of people to shed pounds and shred running shoes.
Of course, being GPS-based, the app also tracks your mileage and maps your route, and even does so accurately. It gives you opportunities to add to your last run or longest run to date, continually challenging you to raise the bar. When you need that extra "oomph," it kicks in your favorite "power song." And through an only slightly imperfect in-app interface, it lets you choose songs for your run.
Now the bad news: if you trust Nike's assurance that the app is multitasking-capable in OS4, you may be disappointed. The app sometimes "pauses" your workout if you keep running while taking a phone call. It also evidently thinks you have paused your workout if you stop your music, and there seems to be no workaround for it.
Use Nike+ GPS for its strengths, and you'll be ecstatic. Accurate mapping, the ability to challenge yourself and your friends, and the long-awaited departure from the in-shoe gadget will be enough for most run-app fans. For two bucks, my advice is "just do it."