I've been impressed with the array of GPS fitness apps on the market for the iPhone and iPod, and Digifit adds yet another key feature to the Apple i-environment with its Digifit Connect wireless sensor. The super-light and compact (about 1.3 x 1.7 inches) Digifit Connect device picks up signals from wireless heart rate monitors, cycling power sensors, and running foot pods. The Digifit works with a wide range of wireless heart rate straps, including Garmin's, which is the model I used in my tests, (see the full list of compatible devices at the link below).
Digifit matches up its wireless ANT+ sensor hardware and technology with a set of apps. These include:
- iCardio - Turns your iPhone, iPod, or iPad into a heart rate monitor and fitness computer. Includes heart rate and tracking, calorie burn, zones, logging and uploading, and more.
- Digifit - Use for running or cycling. Pace, speed, distance, map & track and more.
- iBiker (the app I tried), iRunner, iSpinner, iPower. These apps include sport-specific features and are more specialized than iCardio and Digifit. Some are bundled. For example, the iCardio and iSpinner apps come with iBiker.
Digifit apps use the iPhone's built-in GPS for speed, distance, and mapping/location features, except when a runner's foot pod is in use. The apps are functional in non-GPS-equipped iPods and iPads (some higher-end iPad models have built-in GPS chips), but may not track speed, distance, etc. on the iPod when out of WiFi range.
After downloading and installing the Digifit iBiker app on my iPhone 4, I started the app and entered my personal information, and then went to "my Digifit". The app's sensor pairing screen is in a familiar iPhone toggle-switch format, and includes switches for GPS, heart rate monitor, cadence (cycling), power, and foot pod sensors. The pairing process was quick and easy and worked the first time for me.
While using iBiker, the screen displays distance (in miles or kilometers, your choice), speed, calories, heart rate (beats per minute), elapsed time, and cadence, if you have a cadence sensor installed.
The iBiker app accurately tracked my speed, distance, and heart rate when compared with a known-accurate cyclecomputer.
The iBiker app screen digits are comparable or larger in size than those on a typical cyclecomputer, making it visible at handlebar level. On the downside, the display isn't customizable, and iBiker's overall feature set is well below those of a Garmin Edge 800 cyclecomputer ($449), for example. However, there is of course a major price difference between these two options.
Also, handlebar-mounting options for placing an iPhone on a bike handlebar are clunky and limited. When using Digifit, I preferred to carry the iPhone protected in a jersey pocket, reviewing and uploading data after the ride.
Speaking of uploading, Digifit supports data uploads to New Leaf Fitness and TrainingPeaks.
There are many who will be thrilled to learn of this inexpensive option for capturing wireless fitness data onto the iPhone, iPod, and iPad. Your total cost will depend on many mix-and-match options. My cycling setup, for example, included the Digifit Connect device (retails for $79, but now selling for a discounted $9.99), the iBiker app ($14.99, plus a single-sensor in-app purchase of $14.99), and a Garmin Premium heart rate monitor strap ($69).
Overall, Digifit is a nice option for indoor and outdoor athletes, as long as you're careful to protect your iPhone, iPod, or iPad from water and other hazards of fitness activities.