Introducing Strava, and Seeking Feedback About its Accessibility

App Developer

A very gracious hello to all of you!

I am a developer working on the iOS application Strava. We strive to provide a robust set of features so that any athlete has a place to track their activities and interact with other link-minded individuals. We are a social network that primarily targets runners, cyclists and triathletes but we're rapidly expanding features to appeal to all types of athletic types.

Accessibility isn't a feature. It is not something that we have in a long priority queue patiently waiting for developer attention. It is much more important than that. Accessibility is something that provides equal access to all and as such cannot be prioritized using normal means. This is where I come in. Since starting at Strava roughly 7 months ago, I've been able to introduce a number of (significant, I hope!) accessibility improvements into the iOS application. I'd like to take it a step further though. I want to do it and do it right. This is where I need the AppleVis community's help, if you any of you are so willing. I would love for you to download and try out our (free) application, and put it through it's paces. Then, come back here and let me have it! Seriously! If it's atrocious, or just mediocre, I want to know! If it's great, I'll take that too, though. Smiles.

I eagerly await responses and any feedback any of you may have! ... And feel free to contact me directly at the email listed below.

Sincerely,

Alan Grubb
Software Quality Engineer
Strava, Inc.
agrubb@strava.com

If you're interested in more information and a better description, I am pasting below the application description as listed in the app store. I'm sure it provides information in a much more eloquent manner than I could.

Description of App:
Track your runs and rides with GPS, join Challenges and see how your running and riding compares with friends.

TRACK YOUR RUNS AND RIDES WITH GPS
• Follow routes you’ve created or found and view your activity map as you record
• Get key stats like distance, pace, speed, elevation gained and calories burned
• Collect heart rate, power and cadence data from ANT+ and Bluetooth LE sensors

CLIMB THE LEADERBOARDS
• Set personal records and see how you stack up against friends, locals and pros
• Join monthly Challenges designed to push you further

FOLLOW FRIENDS
• Find your friends and motivate them with kudos and and comments
• Share your activities on Facebook and Twitter
• Share Instagram photos from your activities on your Strava profile

FIND PLACES TO RUN AND RIDE
• Explore the most popular segments anywhere you go

GO PREMIUM
• Filtered leaderboards by age and weight to see where you stack up
• Set weekly mileage or time-based goals and keep track of your daily progress
• Train more effectively with detailed heart rate analysis and see your Suffer Score
• Get your performance results immediately after completing a segment
• See which of your friends are currently out riding or running
• Stay on top of your game throughout the year with training videos
• Visualize your training with Power Zone and Pace Distribution analysis
• Access to exclusive Premium gear, Shop discounts, and extra rewards all year
• These Premium features are available through in-app purchasing

Strava Premium is available for $5.99/month or $59.99/year. You can subscribe and pay through your iTunes account. Your subscription will automatically renew unless cancelled at least 24 hours before the end of the current period. Auto-renew may be turned off by going to your Account Settings after purchase.

Visit www.strava.com to access even more features.

iOS 8 Health Integration: Strava can now sync data with the new iOS 8 Health app as well as other health and fitness apps that are participating. This service is optional.

Note: Recording activities with iPod Touch and iPad version 1 will produce inaccurate location results. Additional hardware required to collect information from ANT+ sensors.

Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life.

Forum: 

#1 Thanks to whoever helped me

App Developer

Thanks to whoever helped me out with a more explicit title!

#2 Treadmill

Hi,

Great initiative and thanks for reaching out...
Being careful not to stereo type the low vision community, but speaking solely from my own experience the majority of Personal Fitness Training (particularly high cardio) is done on treadmills, cross trainers and in gym's. I am sure that some of the low vision community do run and tandem cycle in the great outdoors, but I feel that many are restricted to stationary personal training equipment.

I haven't downloaded your App purely because none of that equipment is mentioned in the App Description.
Also, there is no mention of Apple Watch compatibility.
Finally, for those of us who compete on water, is there a way to manually add work outs that cannot be tracked by sensor?

Look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

@SeaNoEvil00

#3 So Excited!

I am so excited to learn that you have made accessability a priority for Strava.
I wanted to use this app for a year now, because I have a friend in England who is always posting from the app.
I never tried it, because I thought it would not be accessible.
Let me second the above poster's question about stationary equipment.
I work out on treadmills, stationary bikes, and in the pool. So is the app compatible with the bike and the treadmill?
If so, I will happily download it and let you know what I think.
Thanks for making accessibility a priority!

#4 strava accessibility - pleased to meet you

Club AppleVis Member

Hi, Pleased to meet you.
I downloaded strava and have an account, but I find there is something wrong on the interface.
The tabs list on the bottom of screen, the one which has "list, challenges, profile, record, more", has some elemsnts which loop. Profile, record, more ... when you reach the "more" tab, if you Flick right, it should stop. But continues reading "profile", "record", "more", instead, while you continue flicking to the right. And, the third element of the tabs list, is unlabelled, VoiceOver just says "tab", there may be some bugs in implementation.
Don't know how to explain, I should attempt creating a screencast maybe.
Then, when you add a new activity, you have words: time, distance, pace.
And three unlabelled buttons where VoiceOver says just Button, button, button ... that must be fixed.
I feel the "add new activity" screen is not so clear, I do not manage to understand the activities to add!
I think this app needs lot of work inside, to make it very accessible, now it is just starting to be, but you should really improve it.
As I do not manage to set an activity properly I cannot currently give you further feedbacks on tracking, and other issues.
I am using a spinning bike at home, for workouts; but I have also a close friend who is totally blind like me, but runs outdoors together with his sighted trainer; so, there is no time and need to discuss of what a visually impaired does or does not in or outside, it's time to work hard and find accessibility problems to make this app better.

#5 I Concur With Treadmill Use

I also use my treadmill for running. Eversince I got my iPhone several years ago, I have been trying to find an app which will help me with tracking my distance ran on the treadmill, as the consil is completely inaccessible. I can manage my time and my MPH on the treadmill but I haven't yet come across an app that will give me my distance, as GPS is needed to track distance in every iPhone app that I have tried.

Looking forward to seeing how Strava can help me with this one.

Thank you for making accessibility a priority. For so many apps it is more like an after-thought. Appreciate you reaching out to the AppleVis community.

#6 There's an activity type for that!

App Developer

Thanks for the reply @SeaNoEvil00. While Strava does not interface directly (yet) with any treadmills, cross trainers, etc. in your local gym, there is a way to record an activity manually in Strava. On the home screen, which we call the Activity Feed, there is a button for entering a manual activity. To create a manual activity, you simply need to provide Time, Distance, Pace. Then, optionally, you can include things like sport or activity type such as elliptical, weight training, stair stepper, and lots of others. Lastly, and most importantly, it is kind of a trend and fun thing to make up a clever name for your activity and then save it! That's all there is to it.

There is apple watch compatibility, and the Strava app is available on that platform. I have not personally done any accessibility work on that portion of the app, but I will make a point to at least look it over today while I'm at work! Is the apple watch used pretty heavily by the community here? If so, I'm curious!

#7 @Jen

App Developer

That's great to hear you have a friend using the app! If you'll see my reply to @SeaNoEvil00 then I hope that explains that you can still use strava to upload activities you did on a Treadmill and stationary bike. Also, the pool! We have just added robust support for swimming activities, and if you track your swimming activities with any kind of garmin GPS device then you should be able to upload to Strava directly via Garmin Connect. If not, you can still manually enter an activity for your swimming workouts! In your profile, you can also set swim progress goals, and view your swimming weekly and monthly statistics for distance.

#8 @Elena Brescacin

App Developer

Elena, this is great feed back and thank you very much for trying out the app! I do not think a screen cast is necessary, I have looked into the issue and can reproduce it this morning. I'll get a fix in for the unlabeled button on the bottom tab bar immediately, as it is a very important one! That's the Record button, which takes you to the record screen where you can start recording an activity using your device's GPS. The record screen can only be run in two modes, Running and Cycling, but you can change the activity type after you get done recording the activity. For example, a lot of times I go on hikes and I set the recording to Running and then change the Sport or Activity Type to Hike after I save the activity.

Also, great feed back on the manual activity screen! I'll write stories for sprint planning and get started on improvements right away. Let's get this thing usable, especially since manual entries seems to be standing out as the preferred way for the community here to record their activities.Thanks again for your time in putting the app through it's paces!

#9 @Roxann Pollard

App Developer

So this is a tough one. As I've mentioned in previous comments, no application can easily interface directly with treadmills, ellipticals, and trainers in your local gyms yet. There's just too many makes and models of workout equipment out there and most of them were not built with exporting data in mind. With that said, we do have the option to manually enter activities. This puts a little more burden on the user because the user is responsible for entering in the distance, time, pace and other statistics about the workout, but you do inevitably lose out on some of the data that the machine you were working out on recorded. I know it is in the works to develop some relationships with exercise equipment companies, so look for Strava support on those machines in the near future!

#10 Progress update...

App Developer

Alright, from your feedback I was able to fix the bottom tab bar button without any accessibility attributes. I've also gone ahead and added accessibility hints to all of the bottom tab bar buttons as well. Are accessibility hints helpful to end users? In other words, do people actually use them, or mostly ignore them?

I'll start work on the manual activity screen and improving it's accessibility next. Thanks for all the good feedback so far guys and gals!

#11 RE: I Concur With Treadmill Use

How about the motion processor in the iPhone for recording distance for the treadmill user? If an armband or a waist belt is worn so the user can have their iPhone on their person, it stands to reason that the motion processor should aid is recording the actual distance.

#12 Simon Wheatcroft

If you want to create insane VoiceOver access, ask Simon Wheatcroft. He is a blind distance runner in England. He uses the app Run Keeper to accurately keep track of the distance traveled. He has correlated the distances to major landmarks and hazards on his route. The app, using IBM cloud computing technology, is so accurate that he does not use a guide or white cane on his run. IBM created a television commercial featuring Simon and how he relies on the IBM cloud to run safely. Simon’s commercial can be seen on YouTube at:

https://youtu.be/IFnqBtLNoPY

I defer to Simon on additional features. Personally, I’m a powerlifter, which is a tiny sport compared to running or cycling.

#13 Helpful Hints

VoiceOver hints are useful when they add additional information that is not obvious. Most hints on Apple apps are rather useful. Outside Apple apps, developers tend to fall into two camps. One offers few hints, which is most developers. The other camp gratuitously adds hints to nearly everything, as if the developer is trying to prove he understands the needs of VoiceOver users. The Pandora app is an example of this. On the thumbs up and thumbs down buttons, the Pandora app offers the hint to “double tap to thumb the track up.” The hint is completely unnecessary and offers needless chatter. Apple’s usability guidelines offer some information about the appropriate use of helpful hints for VoiceOver users. The hints can be a useful accessibility support when used appropriately or a silly nuisance when not.

#14 @Kelly

App Developer

Wow... I've got some serious chills. Thanks for sharing this. Hopefully we can / are helping people to achieve their ambitions in a similar way but if not then that just motivates me more.

Powerlifting may not be as large in community as cycling or running, but it is no less inspiring! What are you using to track your progress in powerlifting? A mobile application of some sort? Genuinely curious.

Great feedback and information regarding VoiceOver hints. I had a hunch that they could be overwhelming and just add chatter, so it is good to hear that is confirmed. Sometimes official documentation and user experience don't match up 1:1, so I was curious how close to the mark the apple developer docs were. I'll keep this in mind when continuing accessibility development for the Strava app.

Thank you for your help and taking the time to respond!

#15 Lifting Aps and Helpful Hints

I currently use Microsoft Word to keep a lifting journal and record. It’s crude, but it’s accessible and works for now. The lifting apps are cool at what they do though. I did try a few of the lifting apps. One repeatedly failed to recognize either my Facebook or Google ID, which I had to enter manually. Information could be saved on the device, but without it recognizing either my Facebook or Google ID, the unique information about myself and my progress would be lost if the device was restored or if I obtained a new iPhone. Another app would not allow configuration using VoiceOver. I have not yet contacted the developers to inform them of the problems.

I understand your curiosity regarding helpful hints. It is an accessibility option available only on iOS, although text visible only to screen readers on Web pages would be something comparable. In its usability guidelines, Apple offers few examples of model design, encouraging developers to experiment with the ideas offered rather than prescribing specific implementations. Helpful hints can be incredibly useful. Check them out in the app switcher. The hints describe all the gestures needed to move an app to a new location on the screen or to another screen. No other mainstream company in the world offers this kind of accessibility support for the blind.