STRAVA Gets Bluetooth Sensors – again

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stravaSTRAVA Adds Back Bluetooth Sensor Support

This is a YAY moment.

I started to question the longer-term viability of STRAVA a few months back. Sure they have to make money and to do that they have to have subscribers or adverts. But STRAVA ALSO needs to maintain an attractive proposition to non-subscribers as, for STRAVA to work, it needs your data – lots of it, and from lots of people. Yet, as 2020 progressed, we saw more and more features moved to subscriber-only and you just had to think, “Is there anything here for non-subscribers?

Maybe STRAVA belatedly realised that? Who knows? The bottom line, today, is that dcrainmaker (link) reports the rollout of support for Bluetooth heart rate straps in beta versions of the STRAVA app. Oh, and it’s a special invite-only thing…me? NFI. My subscription ran out 2 days ago, maybe they were annoyed I hadn’t renewed it yet ๐Ÿ˜‰ (I will!…busy busy new triathlon watch(es) coming)

Here’s what STRAVA says:

“Supporting Bluetooth sensors caused reliability challenges for many athletes. But for a small part of the Strava community, BLE support — especially for heart rate — continues to be a high value feature and frequent feature request. Weโ€™re exploring how to bring it back in a way that works for these athletes and the community at large.” Source: STRAVA

A Cunning Plan

This now re-activates the possibility of a cunning plan I drew up a year or so ago. I have a Hammerhead Karoo bike computer; essentially it’s a reformatted Android phone with some nice hardware and a very sweet Hammerhead app built into it. Part of the design means you can instead swap out the Hammerhead layer and add your own app for the device to boot into. I was planning that for the STRAVA app but when STRAVA removed sensor support it seemed like a retrograde experiment for me to try. Instead, I toyed with the idea of trying the nice Ride with GPS app but never got around to that either.

So this makes me wonder if STRAVA might be thinking a similar thing. Why not re-enable sensor support in the app and then (eventually) start selling STRAVA bike computers? They could buy a job lot from Hammerhead for a quick start and then transition over to their own hardware in a couple of years if the idea takes off. Or even simply move sensor support (with cadence, speed and PM) to a subscriber feature….that IS worth your subscription to STRAVA as it saves you buying a Garmin.

OK heart rate monitor-only support is not going to move mountains but speed/cadence sensors are easy and adding Bluetooth power meter support might be a LITTLE bit tricky but the whole thing shouldn’t be too hard.

Here’s what I’m imagining…Something like this…but orange.

 

Hammerhead Karoo 2
Something like this…but orange

 

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RiphRaph

So is any information emerging about how attractive Strava still is to non-subscribers? I find I’m using it less and less since they put most of the functionality behind the paywall; other analysis tools are proving to be more than adequate for my needs and what’s left on Strava for free users seems to be largely the social media stuff… which is exactly the aspects of Strava I’ve always been LEAST interested in. *shrug*

RiphRaph

Yeah, but that was almost three months ago. Is any data emerging on how free users have responded to the paywall?

Frank

The routing is top notch

Clive

But the routing is behind the paywall (I allowed my subscription to expire after BT was withdrawn and can no longer use routing), and Google Maps (with excellent on-road routing) can be shrunk to a thumbnail size that sits in front of other apps.
For example the free Polar Beat app can be full screen with thumbnail sized Google Maps infront of it. The free Polar Beat app works with all HR bluetooth straps, and sends data to both the free Polar Flow website and to Strava. HR / speed / map data can be analyzed for free at Polar Flow, while even that analysis is now behind the Strava paywall.
Polar Flow keeps a record of all my training, much as Strava does, but lets me access those data.
Apart from the Challenges, it is difficult to see anything that Strava offers over Polar Beat / Polar Flow and presumably alternative options, too. It is also quite easy to point out what Strava does NOT offer compared to those free alternatives, routing, HR monitoring, and post-ride analysis being at the top of that list.

Oskars

Just what i think. The workout analysis in strava are very weak compared to Polar. So the only thing that’s worth paying could be routing and segment leader-boards/live segments which i honestly don’t care about as-well.

inSyt

Does Polar allow uploads from sport watches, smart watches and bike computers? Does Polar have a page for liking friends activities? Until they support these, people will find use in Strava.