As I was watching the Tour de France last week I saw an interview with Edward Wimmer, one of the co-owners of Road ID (the most essential piece of cycling gear I own). During the interview Wimmer mentioned that Road ID had recently introduced a free iPhone app that would allow your friends or family to track you while you are out on a ride or going for a run. I downloaded the app this past Monday and it has quickly become one of the most important apps on my iPhone!
The Road ID iPhone app is very simple to set up and even easier to use. Once you download the app from the iTunes Store you input your basic information (name, address and email address), then you can select up to five of your contacts who will receive either an email or a text message when you are ready to go ride or run. The contacts you selected with get a brief message telling them that you are going out—and in the message there is a link they can click that will allow them to see exactly where you are at any given moment while you are out (Road ID calls this an eCrumb—an electronic breadcrumb). They can watch you on any smart phone or web browser.
The Road ID iPhone app also allows you to turn on a stationary alert—if you don’t move for five minutes the app will send an email or text message to your selected contacts warning them that you are not moving. The message does not necessarily mean that you are lying face-down in a ditch somewhere—it just means that you have not moved more than 15 feet or so in the past five minutes. However, one minute before the text message or email goes out the app will sound a loud alarm to warn you so you can cancel the message (the alarm reminds me of a klaxon horn from a WWII battleship). At the moment this stationary alert cannot be adjusted to any other time-frame—it is either set at five minutes or it is turned off entirely. I wish this app offered the ability to change the amount of time before sending the stationary alert because five minutes is not a lot of time if you get stuck behind a few customers buying lottery tickets at the convenience store (personally, I think the lottery is just a tax on people who are really bad at math).
One of the biggest concerns most people are going to have about this app is the impact on the battery life of your iPhone. There is no question that it will drain your battery a bit, but for most people this is not going to be an issue. I’ve gone out for three rides of three hours each (including “standing around” time at stop lights, etc.) and each time I started with a battery that was 100% full. When I got home after three hours the battery had only gone down by 20%—but I was running another app, Abvio Cyclemeter, at the same time! One note: I always turn off the Wi-Fi on my iPhone when heading out for a ride to prolong battery life.
One other feature the Road ID iPhone app offers is that it allows you to make a personalized Lock Screen—even if your phone is locked emergency responders can see any pertinent information they need and a list of people they can call in case of an emergency.
The Road ID iPhone app just hit the iTunes store on June 13, 2013 and it is still in version 1.0 as of this writing. According to the description on the iTunes store, this app is “compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation), and iPad. This app is optimized for iPhone 5. Requires iOS 5.0 or later.”
As I said earlier, this is one of my favorite apps—I wish it had been available with my sons were teenagers (what parent wouldn’t want to be able to track their kids?).