Best Sports Apps – Winners & Losers | 2020
2020 saw big changes in my annual sports ranking tables. Unsurprisingly, the best sports app winners from 2020 include Zwift and Tacx/Garmin. Some of the other winners include Samsung, Huawei, Peloton, Relive, Google FIT and several Couch-to-5K apps. The most notable loser was UA Endomondo…which was 4th in the table last year and now ceases to exist.
What I Do
The specific measures that I look at are the NUMBER of reviews and AVERAGE RATING. I think these are a good proxy to assess both the magnitude and quality of the interaction that we have with our apps-of-choice.
I’ve included app links so you can find out more about any apps that might be new to you.
Historically I looked at Google Play and recently added in some of Apple’s app store data, starting in Jan 2020.
Headline Differences & Trends
What stands out the most to me is that Apple App Store apps invariably have significantly higher ratings than their Android counterpart. Either the iOS apps are better engineered or the average iPhone user is a more forgiving, positive person.
Clearly, the biggest trends of 2021 should reflect an increase in indoor equipment training with the likes of Peloton, Tacx and Wahoo plus an increase in outdoor activity being recorded on generic sports apps like Nike RC that do not necessarily require a GPS sports watch.
The number of reviews on Android apps are normally much higher than those for the equivalent iOS app probably, in part, reflecting a larger user base.
Biggest Movers & Shakers
- Android: Samsung Health storms up the Android charts to take the #1 slot, leaping over adidas and Nike RC. Huawei is up 5 with Relive & Polar Beat both up 4. From a low base, Zwift rocks up 10 places.
- iOS: adidas, Wahoo Fitness, RwGPS and Google FIT all take a hit in their positions table, whilst everyone still loves Nike RC, Peloton and Alltrails.
Watch Out: Almost every app grew Android reviews by over 20%. Those that did NOT achieve that growth rate include Asics Runkeeper and Trainer Road. Alongside that are those who have low review ratings like Fitbit, Suunto, Tacx, Rouvy & Stages. In the past, low reviews have foretold bad things that came later.
Of the iOS apps that I have year-on-year data for, Suunto is growing notably less than all the others.
Crème de la Sweat
Apps deserving a thumbs up because of stellar approval ratings include these on Android adidas/Runtastic, Garmin Connect, UA Map my Walk/Ride, Relive, Komoot, Osmand, Final Surge and Pumatrac Whereas, on iOS a list of the many top-performers includes adidas Runtastic, Nike RC, Strava, Asics Runkeeper, UA Map My Run/Walk, Zepp and several others too (sorry I didn’t mention you by name).
This Year’s Results Tables
Here we have two similar tables, one for the Google Play Store and the other for Apple’s app store followed further below with some interesting points and commentary.
The image above is of the same data but the colour coding on that image aids readability.
|Android App Name||Android Reviews||+/- % vs year ago||Rating||Rank Jan-20||Rank +/- vs a year ago||Link|
|adidas Running by Runtastic||1,062,551||112%||4.6⬆️||2||-1||Link|
|Nike Run Club||1,003,340||110%||4.5||3||-1||Link|
|Strava Running & Cycling GPS||641,956||124%||4.4||5||2||Link|
|Asics Runkeeper GPS Track Run Walk||567,669||105%||4.3||7||-1||Link|
|UA Map my Run||301,035||134%||4.4||10||0||Link|
|UA Map my Walk||246,848||132%||4.6⬆️||12||0||Link|
|UA Map my Ride||162,110||127%||4.6||16||-2||Link|
|One You Couch to 5k||29,954||200%||4.7⬆️||28||7||Link|
|Couch Potato to 5k||26,163||146%||4.8||30||2||Link|
|Couch to 5k RD C25K||16,397||101%||4.4||36||-3||Link|
|Couch to 5k||14,690||108%||4.4||38||-2||Link|
|Couch to 10k||12,486||106%||4.2⬇️||39||-2||Link|
|Ride with GPS||9,016||167%||4.3⬇️||40||0||Link|
|Couch to 5k and 10k||4,286||139%||4.3⬇️||45||-3||Link|
|Elite my Etraining||2,135||181%||3.8⬆️⬆️||51||-1||Link|
|iOS App Name||iOS Reviews||+/- % vs year ago||Rating||Rank Jan-21||Link|
|Nike Run Club||370800||126%||4.8||3||Link|
|One You Couch to 5k (NHS England App – Free and Good)||236000||4.8||4||Link|
|UA Map my Run||132400||204%||4.8||5||Link|
|Strava Running & Cycling GPS||90100||138%||4.7||6||Link|
|UA Map my Walk||65600||219%||4.8||8||Link|
|Asics Runkeeper GPS Track Run Walk||51900||161%||4.8||9||Link|
|UA Map my Ride||39400||266%||4.8||11||Link|
|Couch to 10k||14800||4.8||14||Link|
|adidas Running by Runtastic||12700||529%||4.7||17||Link|
|Ride with GPS||1100||246%||4.6||32||Link|
If I’ve missed an important sports app please let me know and I will add them provided they have more than 1000 reviews or if they are noteworthy.
Source: the5krunner.com, iOS/Android app stores
Notes, What’s In and What’s Changed?
- I added a lot of newer apps into the table of results last year and this is partly reflected in the movements shown but some gaps remain.
- Samsung’s growth appears to be due to a reported surge in sales of its equipment due to political restrictions placed on Huawei by the USA.
- The listed apps include those which support GPS hardware as well as the more generic apps that typically record a workout on a smartphone with no external GPS hardware. The key players in the latter of these categories seem to have all been bought out by sporting apparel companies who want to jealously guard ‘their’ data – 3rd party developers will find it hard to get access to data from the likes of Nike.
- The demise of Endomondo shows that many of these apps are simply not profitable despite vast numbers of downloads & reviews
- Some apps that fill a specific need are included in the table of results even if they don’t meet the 1,000 review threshold eg STRYD
- Even though STRYD has a total of less than 400 reviews, the number of active Runners with Power is around 100,000 globally, though not all with STRYD (>10,000 STRYD installs on Android). This low level of user feedback could simply reflect STRYD not asking you for it.
- Some ‘well-known’ Apple Watch 6 apps like iSmoothRun are only available on iOS
- Some apps are also a proxy for device sales. You might assume that a 400% year-on-year increase in reviews for Tacx probably reflects a similarly large increase in the sale of indoor bike trainers.
- adidas Running (by Runtastic) has 1,062,551 reviews and this will correspond to Android downloads of over 50 million (yep, 50x greater).
- Whereas Garmin Connect has well over 10 million Android installs and Polar Flow is now just over 1,000,000 installs. You might surmise that the number of Garmin devices is at least 10x that of Polar and you would be right; it is AT LEAST 10x…probably a lot more 😉 That said, you could still correctly deduce that Polar has sold millions of sports watches/devices.
- Strava has 641,956 reviews and “over” 10million downloads (download figures are imprecise). By my guestimations, the active number of STRAVA users is currently at a high but well below 20 million.
- Suunto is still migrating from Movescount & Sports Tracker apps to the Suunto app. In next year’s chart, these will likely rationalise down to only one app – the Suunto app
- I believe that the average Play Store rating is time/version-limited in some way by Google eg a 2/5 rating one year might be ignored 2 years and 2 versions later when a 4/5 rating is seen.
- This data is probably genuine. I would imagine that 5-figure numbers of ratings are hard to fake. I would also imagine the risk of trying would be great!
- If I’ve missed any popular apps out then please let me know. If you are the app developer and just want your app included in the list then, sorry, it will need to have at least 1,000 Android reviews and be sport-focussed – but feel free to identify yourself in the comments section and plug your app there…I won’t delete ANY such sports app links.
Predictions for 2021
- Impossible for new apps to get anywhere near the upper end of this table in the space of a year, although I wish I had recorded the Peloton stats better a year ago!
- The trend for sports apps to innovate first on iOS will continue. Why? Many reasons, including that it is easier to pair 3rd party sensors on Apple and Apple’s user base is assumed to represent generally wealthier people.
- Double-digit growth expected across the board.
- I also suspect that some apps will wither and die soon but maybe not in 2021.
Last Year’s Results – here