TempoRun App Review: Finally, a music app designed for runners

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It’s officially summer time, and that means the sidewalks are about to be filled with runners. It’s one of the easier forms of exercise – not necessarily in execution but in preparation. All you really need is a shirt, some shorts that are comfortable enough to sweat in, and a pair of shoes. Of course, there are things that make running much easier. No, not human growth hormone. Music. We’ve all given ourselves the excuse of “I’d love to go for a run but my iPod isn’t charged,” or “I just don’t have the right music on there to run to” then sat at home. By tracking the beat of your foot hitting the pavement, TempoRun is an app that provides music to match your speed, and does it’s best to keep you moving.

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TempoRun is like your standard music player, except with a new way to sort your songs: By their tempo. It rates them on a scale of 1 to 10 which is then used to set your pace for your runs. Setting the app to level one is ideal for a slow walking pace, five brings you to a jog, and 10 sets you at a sprint – you can land somewhere in between as well. If you crank up your speed or slow down, you can turn your levels up and down with the click of an arrow on the app’s smooth interface. You can also lock the screen so you don’t accidentally kick your level up to 10 and find yourself in a dead sprint trying to stay in line with the music. It would be nice to see an addition for interval style running with the ability to switch into a track from, say, level 7 for one minute, then automatically shift down to level three for 30 seconds before turning back up, then repeat it for as many intervals as you’d like to complete. But, this is the initial release, so perhaps that will come through the pipes in a later update.

The most important question with TempoRun is just how good it is at distinguishing the beat of a song. Nothing will throw you off like the shift from thrash metal to an acoustic ballad; the entire point of this app is to prevent you from having to switch songs to stay motivated. For the most part, it does a fine job of giving you a good pace to run at.

TempoRun does have the weakness of not being able to distinguish between genres, though. During a run I took, a White Stripes song came on that passed the beat count test but was distinctly different from the other music that was being played – enough so for it to be mildly distracting. Brushing through the music library organized by TempoRun, these occasions do happen, but are few and far between. Even when they do come up, there is a flag feature that allows you to take a look at the song later and remove it from its level if you don’t think it fits. You can even tap out the beat on the app itself to figure out where it belongs, which is handy.

TempoRun3If your own personal library doesn’t fit what you’re looking for in a running mix, you can check out TempoRun’s radio feature, which you can turn on by simply setting your tempo level and letting the app play suggested music. Here, you can set your genres of choice so you’re generally listening to things that you want to hear.

Lastly, TempoRun serves as more than just your music player; it also tracks your runs for you and lays out your history on a profile page. Your most recent run, your totals for the past few weeks/month, and your personal best time are accessible. It’s not a necessary feature for an app that is mostly about the music, but it’s executed well and is a welcome little bonus for those who like to track their progress.

TempoRun does a pretty simple task when you think about it: It creates a running playlist – a standard must-have for almost any runner, casual or hard core. But rather than you just stringing together songs you think you’d run well to, it gives you multiple playlists designed to accompany you on a run of any speed. Anyone who has run to the wrong music before knows the awkward feeling of hearing your own footsteps because the song is so out of sync with your pace. Though it’s light on features, TempoRun serves its purpose well and is an app you should consider for your next run.

TempoRun is available in the iTunes App Store for $3.

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