The app uses audio cues to provide live coaching feedback as you train, so the first thing you’re asked to do is select your language. The list is quite comprehensive, but for now we’ll stick to English.
Next, it has you create a PIN code so that no-one can pry into your private training data:
Next, you’ll need to create a miCoach account. You can also elect to use the app as a guest though, if you’re just evaluating it.
The app feels quite polished, but the registration process does feel rather clunky:
It basically feels like a simple webpage displayed in-app, tiny text fields and all. This part is quite lengthy – the screenshot above shows only part of the form. It goes on to ask about your country (why not geo-locate it?), your gender, height and weight. This is definitely the weakest part of the miCoach experience – I hope Adidas streamlines the registration process in the future to use native Android controls. Until that happens, you’re better off registering at the miCoach website using your computer.
Even there, I was unable to enter an accurate value for my weight – it would only let me enter whole numbers. When you’re working with pounds that might be fine, but if you’re using the metric system, there’s quite a difference between 65kg and 65.7kg (almost two pounds of difference, in fact). As frustrating as this is, don’t give up here – the app is worth it.
Once you finish the arduous registration process, miCoach will sync data off the server and let you select a coaching voice:
Finally, we’ve made it to the main menu. It looks like this:
The first thing I’d like to check and tweak are the settings, of course. So here they are:
The mention of Zones is interesting. I use a Polar heart rate monitor (FT60), so I’m familiar with workout zones. But miCoach does not force you to use an HRM. You can also set your zones according to pace (9 minutes per mile) and speed (10 mph).
Also, despite selecting the metric system during the cumbersome registration process, miCoach showed me my pace/speed zones in miles. I tried setting the app to use miles in the During Workout menu:
That did the trick. My zones were then displayed using the metric system. Also, note the slider adjusting Music/Coaching volume. You can tweak it to your liking so that you can easily hear coaching instructions over the music you’re training to.
Okay, I’d say we’ve played with the configuration enough. This app isn’t about settings, it’s about getting out there and working up a good sweat. So let’s look at the Workouts menu now:
The first workout most people would probably try is the Assessment Workout:
This is what it looks like when you continue:
miCoach now tries to get a GPS lock. What’s interesting here is that miCoach has you assess your effort level subjectively, on a scale from 1 to 10. Once the GPS locks, you can begin the workout:
Okay, busted. I’m not actually moving, I’m sitting right here in front of my computer, writing this. The coaching voice (female, US in my case) sounds natural and eloquent – this is a recorded person, not a text-to-speech synthesizer. But since you’re not using a heart rate monitor, the instructions merely say “increase your effort to six out of ten”. To me, that’s very subjective – but I guess if you don’t want to invest in a dedicated HRM, you’ll need to trust your judgment. They do give you tips that should help you assess your level, such as “conversation will be difficult at this effort”.
There’s another workout view, which you can get by swiping to the right. It looks like this:
This is an at-a-glance view of what your effort level should be, and where you are in the training session. You also get a quick color-coded overview of what’s ahead. You can see this session is going to increase all the way to a short burst at maximum effort level (red), followed by a cool-down period (blue).
The voice cues are one minute apart by default, which is a good interval – it’s not too irritating, but you’re definitely kept oriented as to where you are in the training session without having to constantly look at your device (a pet peeve of mine when using the Polar monitor, where I would constantly have to look at my wrist while running).
Once you’re done working out, you can rate your session.
And sync it to the server:
That’s about it for the Workout view, and as well as for my review. The last thing I want to show you is a quick glimpse of the Workout History:
This shows a nice view of all of your past workouts, and you can drill down into each workout (so you can see again how I didn’t move anywhere during my arduous “workout”):
Note the subtle marketing angle here, with the Shoes field. I haven’t even touched on the website in this review – it’s a very comprehensive companion to the app, and shows your complete lifetime stats, lets you set plans, track your workout and get a lot more out of the miCoach experience. All in all, Adidas did a great job with this app, and it doesn’t feel like an empty marketing vessel.
If you want to see what it’s like training with your Android device without spending anything for an app or an HRM strap, miCoach is a very good option.