Anyway, that’s jumping ahead a little. There’s a hamburger menu at top left that allows you to access settings, not least those for deciding the kinds of units you want. They even include Joules as an alternative to Calories for energy. Take that Fitbit!
And there’s a page for tech stuff about the HR+ earphones. It’s from here you can check whether the firmware is up to date. It wasn’t. When I asked it to update, it downloaded the relevant file and started feeding it to the earphones. I watched it do so. After having transferred less than one percent of the necessary data it indicated a remaining time of one hour and thirteen minutes. There was a nice big abort button, which I used. Later after some initial testing, and when I didn’t need to use the earphones for a couple of hours, I started the process again and just let it go. It completed at some point within an hour or two.
At the bottom right of the app are buttons for controlling sound. One jumps you straight to the Music app so you can start things playing, while the other takes you to a page to set your preferences with regard to audio feedback.
Bottom left is about exercise. A button lets you set that to Run, Cycling, Walk, Cross Fit, Gym, Running Heart Fitness Test, and Heart and Mind. The icon for that last one had a stylised person in a cross-legged meditation pose. Feel free to explore that kind of thing on your own. I stuck with Run and Walk.
You choose the exercise you want, then tap the “Play” button to start recording.
While you’re exercising, the app shows various bits of information. You get to choose some of them. Basically, they boil down to elapsed time, distance covered, current cadence (number of steps per minute), current heart rate, average heart rate, number of steps, split speed and energy consumed. Obviously much of that is provided by the app using the phone’s sensors – including GPS, with an indicator at top right showing GPS connection status – and some (energy, for example) is calculated using a model to apply the movement and heart rate data to your weight and age.
When you’re done, you press the red stop button and you’re presented with a map – in my case, it was a route, but with no background so it was not clear where it took place – and a summary of all that information. You can touch each item to show a fairly detailed graph with the readings across the course of the exercise.
And after having written that about the absence of the map, I now realise that the reason was I didn’t have a SIM in the iPad, so it had no Internet connectivity. Now that the iPad is in my office, connected to WiFi, I can go back and review that exercise session and see that the map has since been put in place underneath the route.
During my walks and my run, the music played nicely, interrupted ever two minutes by a somewhat uncanny-valley-ish female voice announcing half a dozen statistics: average heart rate, speed, steps and so on.
Of course, you can switch that off if you like, and if you like to let your consciousness fade away into the haze of the music when you’re exercising, no doubt you’ll do that. But if your focus is on achieving milestones in your exercise, this is a great way of doing it without having to do foolishly dangerous things like look at your phone’s screen while cycling.
Again, during my exercising I used both the HR+ and BioConnected app, and a Fitbit Ionic. Did they give the same results? No.