Since the debut of the App Store last summer, my iPhone has become an indispensable part of my workout routine. The phone makes it easy to track your workout progress both in the gym and outdoors, where applications like RunKeeper allow you to use the phone’s integrated GPS to plot your bike or running course on a map. But there’s been one annoyance that’s aggravated me (and many others) to no end: the limited control you have over your music once you’ve launched one of these fitness apps. Fortunately the iPhone 3.0 software update finally fixes this, and a RunKeeper-like application called Fitnio(iTunes Link) has managed to beat some of its more well-known competitors to the punch.
Until the release of the iPhone 3.0 software update, developers were unable to access the phone’s music library. In order to play music as you ran, you’d have to first open up the phone’s iPod application, pick a playlist, then switch over to the excercise app. Once there, you could use your headphone’s multifunction button to execute some basic commands (next song, pause, and previous song), but if you wanted to switch playlists you were out of luck.
Fitnio breaks down this barrier, allowing you to browse through your iTunes playlists and queue one up for the next time you begin a jog. It may not sound like a big deal, but it’s certainly a very welcome change. Unfortunately there’s still no way to jump to a specific album or artist’s songs, but developer Robby Walker says that those will be coming in the future.
Fitnio is a pretty barebones app, without the nice visualizations you’ll see on RunKeeper (it also doesn’t have voice overs announcing your progress, which some people may miss). But it gets the job done, tracking your movements while biking or running using the phone’s integrated GPS, and it’s only a fifth of the price of RunKeeper’s Pro app, coming in at $1.99.
Of course, Fitnio’s musical advantage over the competition will likely be short-lived. Given that all developers have access to the new features in the iPhone 3.0 software update, you can expect similar apps to include this feature very soon. That said, if you’re looking for a fix right now, Fitnio is worth checking out.