When it comes to navigating your way through a city, or wilderness, it’s hard to imagine doing it without GPS or a map on your phone. Besides mapping the best route, many apps are built on platforms that also help you plan workouts, track progress, and interact with others. Here are five of our favorites paired with the ideal activity.
Traffic sucks, but this app lets you tap into data from millions of other commuters as they navigate the increasingly congested, and gridlocked streets alongside you. As other drivers update conditions in real time, you are provided with a live look at conditions. Plus, since Google owns it, they have access to the most up-to-date road maps possible. Unlike other mapping applications, Waze will tell you why traffic is slow (accident, construction, or road hazards) and suggest an alternative route based on driver feedback. Best of all it will give you a heads up when you are approaching police speed traps, it links with others via Facebook so you can coordinate meeting up, and has live info on where to find the cheapest gas. [Free; waze.com]
Hiking: All Trails
Complete with over 50,000 trail maps, this app makes it easier for any hiker to find a nearby route. Its crowdsourcing ability allows its over 3 million users to continuously update conditions, leave recaps, and upload photos to help you plan out your hike. It also will point you toward mountain bike rides, fly-fishing sites, and spots to camp. The basic app is free. But for an extra $50 per year, you have the ability to download your maps to your device for when you are out of range, print them before you head out, create custom hikes, and have access to the deeper data from National Geographic and TOPO! [Free; alltrails.com]
Strava has helped change the way people ride their bikes across the country. With an interface designed to track your every move while you are out on the road or a trail, it enables anyone to compete with others who have ridden the same route. It’s like a digital Tour de France complete with leaderboards tracking individual segment leaders, king of the mountain, and overall bests for entire routes. The app also tracks speed, time, and distance traveled. Once you get back home, you can get detailed info on the amount of calories burned to plan out your meals. The app is free, but for $60 a year, you can have access to the premium service, which offers coaching and advanced analysis. [Free; strava.com]
Walking: Map My Walk
This well-designed app allows you to create a route before you head out for a walk, and then tracks you via GPS to make sure you don’t end up getting lost. The wide array of data (pedometer, stopwatch, calories burned, elevation, and pace) keeps you up on your fitness progress, too, and is displayed in a simple interface. It wirelessly syncs with the most popular heart monitors and also allows you to control your music. The app is free, and for $30 annually, you gain access to MVP services that include audio coaching, heart rate analysis, and personal training plans. [Free; mapmywalk.com]
Sometimes the hardest part of training for a run is getting up off the couch, but not with Runkeeper. Not only does it allow you to set training goals that it will track for you, it also will post your workouts on a monthly leaderboard where you can judge your progress against friends, and foes. The goal coach will build a workout plan to fit into your schedule, update you to upcoming weather, and award badges as you hit milestones. It wirelessly syncs with most devices (Fitbit and Apple Watch are a few). Over 47 million runners use it, and it ranks as one of the most popular running apps on the planet. For about $40 annually, you gain access to Runkeeper Go, with detailed training regimens from several well-known coaches and live tracking. Plus, it will build playlists to keep you on pace. [Free; runkeeper.com]