When it comes to running or regularly power walking, it’s getting into the habit that’s the hard part – and SonicSole wants to help. SonicSole is a walking/running/music app for beginners, with musical sessions that focus on providing the right beat for your pace. There are currently three difficulties: a starter session for those who want to practice walking or slower jogs, an intermediate options for runners who want to run for 30 minutes and get a good workout, and even a collection of advanced sessions for those interested in serious speed training. But is this app worth your time? That depends on your exercise history.
SonicSole’s interface is shallow – but it’s designed to be that way, and the ultra-simple design plays to its strengths. Once you’ve signed up and accessed the app, the home screen is SonicSole’s collection of running/walking tracks. You can scroll through all the tracks available through a number of different genres, such as “Eternal Skies” or “Enter the Zone” and play any of them with a single tap. For those who prefer running apps they can start in seconds, it’s a handy feature. All the other buttons are immediately available as well, with large, clear options for adding a track to your favorite list, downloading it onto your phone, showing your progress, and more.
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There are two side menus that open up, but their options are limited. One sidebar lets you control coaching, duration, and difficulty. The other side allows you to look at your recent activity and any favorites you’ve collected. The whole experience is designed for those who don’t have any time to waste learning a new app – or who may be uncomfortable with apps in the first place.
SonicSole may be a simple app, but it works hard to incorporate smart features. At any time during a session, you can share your score and run on Twitter or Facebook. The app judges your running distance and speed by using the accelerometer sensor in your phone, so it’s specifically designed for those lightweight phones that you can strap on your arm or legs while you walk/run – not the most comfortable solution, but it does provide more accurate results than a casual pedometer.
Song content is the weakest feature of SonicSole. In some ways, the music selection feels like a work in progress, where “beat” was made the priority and everything else has been pushed aside for the moment. Every session is instrumental, and most are EDM or Chill (even the Rock option feels highly processed) with voice coach overlays. The bass isn’t particularly deep, and no session is particularly memorable – in other words, it’s all fluff. And that fluff is fine, easy to run to…for about 10 or 15 minutes. Then you start longing for a real, popular song with lyrics or a pulsing beat, like the kind available on dozens of apps already on your phone.
There are probably proprietary reasons that SonicSole can’t use real songs on its sessions, but there should still be a workaround here. A tie-in with internet radio stations has been proven possible – or the ability to tap into playlists already stored on your phone. Features like these need to be added to keep the music alive, or enthusiasm peters out quickly.
Speaking of that voice coach: it’s fine. If you’re looking for general advice and platitudes like the kind you would get in an average cycling class, they’re here. If you don’t like them, you can turn them off. They tend to repeat word-for-word as long as you stay in the same difficulty, but this is something that can be updated in later versions with more variety.
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SonicSole is made for those who’ve never tried wearables, who haven’t tried the gym – who aren’t even sure they like this whole fitness trend. It’s made for people who don’t want to learn new apps or integrate their smart fitness platforms with lots of customization. It’s particularly friendly to people who don’t run or walk regularly but want to start, and prefer a simple app with a light storage footprint to help them do it. A starter kit, if you will, for running or walking inspiration. Those with more experience will want to move onto greater customization, though the app promises updates in the future.