Finland's Polar is one of the most recognisable names when it comes to heart rate watches and computers, and it was only a matter of time before they released a smartphone app.
Everyone who is everyone has an app these days. Garmin's Fit, Strava, Biologic, Minoura. Polar's Beat is a free training app aims to separate itself from the competition by giving you tools to train smarter, bringing intelligence to your training data. The key to using data when training is knowing what the data is telling you about your body.
Tapping into Polar's 35 years of expertise, the Beat app can plan a training target, help you train at the right intensity, understand the impact of your workout and accurately tracks calories consumed. It can also provide training targets and training session data for time, distance and calories; maps and music; training history and personal bests. It’s also social so you can share/show-off fast rides to friends.
While Beat is free to download, to access the advanced features you'll be wanting to purchase the new Bluetooth Polar H7 Heart Rate Sensor which costs a chunky £64.50. The heart rate sensor is the first from Polar to use Bluetooth 4.0 (existing Polar products use legacy Bluetooth heart rate monitor sensors) and isn't compatible with any of their other products. So if you're already a Polar user and interested in using the app, you won't be able to use an existing heart rate strap. You'll have to buy this new H7 strap. The iPhone 4/5 both have Bluetooth 4.0 installed
The Beat app does work with their existing PolarPersonalTrainer.com however, so if you have an account there you can easily connect up to it. That means you can use this app alongside any other Polar products you already have. If you've already spent a couple of hundred pounds on a Polar watch then it's unlikely you'll be that interested in the app. Will you?
As a product to tap into the massive popularity of apps it's clearly a smart move and is an affordable way into the Polar universe (and all that clever heart rate analysing stuff). But for as long as the H7 sensor isn't compatible with any other Polar products it appears to be a standalone product and not a stepping stone into the Polar world. Which seems a shame.
Polar Beat can be found on Apple’s App Store from today at no cost. An in-app feature upgrade for £2.49 is also available, providing advanced target setting and deeper real-time workout analysis. Beat is compatible with the iPhone 4S and the new iPhone 5. And an Android version? Word from Polar is that there won't be one which does seem to be missing a trick but then Polar has only supported Macs since 2010.
More at www.polar.fi/beat
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.