STRAVA 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 😉 (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. We’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.