Data Privacy in ConnectStats

I recently saw a negative review on the App Store for ConnectStats warning users that ConnectStats is not a Garmin app and therefore people should avoid giving away login information in the app as the data may get stolen.

Keeping data secure both on your phone or online has been a key guiding principle in how I tried to implement the app. So while I understand the concern, I felt it was a bit unfair.

I have been careful to make sure the data isn’t shared and the passwords are never sent to me. I also made the app open source so that people can check for themselves what it is doing.

I felt it may be worth to write a bit of details on what is ConnectStats doing with your data and password, with link to the code. So people can either let me know if I miss something or feel better about using the app.

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A few app updates

I have a few upgrades of the app about to be released (pending Apple approval). I have pushed minor updates of ConnectStats, a new version of FitFileExplorer

Few bugs out of the way

The version 5.2.2 will contain a few bugs fixes that people have been reported recently.

First it should synchronise better the changes that occurs on the Garmin Connect Website, specifically the names of the activities.

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Getting the weather for an activity in ConnectStats

As of version 5.1 you can obtain weather information for Connectstats activities if you use the new service I implemented using Garmin Health API and DarkSky. But in order to access it there are a few things to know and do.

The weather will only be added to new activities, once you have started using the new service, which is not currently the default in the app.

To enable the new service, you should go to your config page in Service and accounts and change the Source for the Garmin information to be All as below.

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2016 year review and double counted activities

It’s time again to look at the past year summary. How did I do?

2016 was a fine year, I ran 1387 km, it is 100km behind 2015. But one aspect bothered me, looking at the distance, there is a clear increase on the graph in December 2015, which put me behind in 2016. It worried me a bit. I couldn’t remember an especially good December last year. Did I have another bug in ConnectStats?

I went to check on Garmin connect and it reported the same distance as connectstats: 1478km for 2015…

Hum. Next step was to go and look at the activities in December last year. The search feature in ConnectStats made it easy, just enter december 2015  in the search box of the activity list. Sure enough, I found some duplicate activities. This started to be very worrying. ConnectStats imported the same activity twice? New bug? After some more investigation, it turned out the problem was in Garmin itself… Quite a few activities in 2015 appear twice on the website as well…

They have a different activity identification number, but they are clearly the same activity except for the altitude gain as you can see on the snapshot above.

Next steps was to add a new feature to ConnectStats to double check for such duplicate activities and ignore them… Well, my stats are now lower only 1310km but correct. And 2016 is ahead of 2015 by 50km! Yeah!

I finally decided to check what Strava reported. My account is linked to import activities automatically. I was curious: would strava have the total including the duplicate as well? It actually didn’t… The total is 5km off from my new corrected total, but I suspect it is simply due to the slightly different way Strava computes the total distance from the gps file.

The fix to search and eliminate duplicate will be included in a new release early next year.

Exciting Bug Reports

You may wonder how bug reports can be exciting. Most of the reports I get are about people having trouble to login or set up the app. Usually either because people Bugsuse the wrong device (vivofit or vivosmart), or have special characters in the password. I actually just fixed the latter, which is great news.

So once in a while I get a bug report from someone that spotted some inconsistency in the stats or numbers reported in the app. This is exciting because it is usually somewhat interesting to track down and also because it helps get the app better and better. It even sometimes happens that people spot inconsistency with other apps or report, and when the other apps was wrong it’s quite satisfying ūüôā

Inconsistency between Time in Zone Graphs and Laps

An often overlooked feature of the app is the ability to compute statistics over arbitrary laps. You can of course record laps while you do an activity. But what if later you want to see how you did by kilometres or miles? You may also want to get your stats for all the times you were in a given heart rate zone. Or your half distance split, etc. The app lets you do that, by tapping on the lap header and selecting the type of lap you want.

Someone just noticed that the time in zone was inconsistent between the computed lap and the time in zone graph. As you can see in the graph for instance the 149 to 158 zone is reported with less than 10:00Simulator_Screen_Shot_15_Apr_2016__20_31_00

While the graph is clearly more than 10:00

Simulator_Screen_Shot_15_Apr_2016__20_28_59

Bug feels always silly once you found them. Here I was not accounting properly for each point of the activity where the value changes zone. The laps calculation is somewhat more involved than the time in zone graphs, because it requires keeping track of bunch of stats, like distance, speed or pace, average heart rate, etc. Note that the activity don’t report when the timer was stopped on the watch, so there is also some logic to account for the point where the timer appears to have stopped (long delay between points). It’s not exact and sometimes the logic does not work well.  But here I was just missing one point all together. It’s fixed now for the next version. Here is the correct laps after the fix

Simulator_Screen_Shot_15_Apr_2016__20_29_15

Fast Mile starts in slow section

Sometimes what appears to be a bug, is just a side effect of a feature. One user noticed that sometimes the fastest mile on the map appears to start in a section that is slow (blue). It would appear to not make sense as given the section at the end is faster it should more the fastest mile to be starting on the next point as here:

FastBikeSmoothing

Well, in that case actually the pin is at the exact right location. The blue section is also correct, given how it’s calculated: The gradient color represent the speed modulo some small level of smoothing. Here is the same picture without the smoothing

FastestBikingNoSmoothing

You can see that in that case, the fastest mile start correctly in a red (faster) section. It is hard to decide if this is a bug or a feature. It’s also interesting to see that in the case of a cycling activity (as in the above pictures), the speed is actually quite smooth already, so the smoothing probably not that critical. But in the case of a run, it tends to be much noisier. Given I am first a runner, it was quite obvious to me that without smoothing the gradient was less useful in identifying speed zone.

Here is a running activity with smoothing

SmoothingRun

And the same activity without smoothing, with a much noisier gradient

RunNoSmoothing

ConnectStats does not let you control the smoothing of the gradient on the map. Maybe I’ll add an option for that, or I’ll disable it for biking activities.

 

Statistics on a selection of activities

One feature people repeatedly ask about is the ability to see statistics for a selection of Garmin Activities. It is actually possible by using the search feature.

Let’s say for example I want to see the statistics of all the running activities in july 2015. I first enter that as a search

Simulator Screen Shot 20 Jan 2016, 21.53.35

Then in the statistics page, hit the type button until the term Search appears. It will remind you what the search term was, and then the statistics you see are only using the currently selected list:

Simulator_Screen_Shot_20_Jan_2016__21_53_40

This will be the case for the other stats page as well, here for example I show a scatter plot of Pace versus HR for the running activities of July 2015

Simulator Screen Shot 20 Jan 2016, 21.53.54

Another useful application is to run statistics on a specific activity type, for example all the skiing activities as here, I show how much elevation gain I achieved each month in backcountry skiing. You can see more about skiing here

Simulator Screen Shot 20 Jan 2016, 22.01.22

It is limited though by the current search syntax of ConnectStats, which if there is significant demand, I may extend. Just let me know.

 

ConnectStats 2.5 rejected…

shutterstock_310884725So as per last week post, I had submitted to the apple review process a new version of connectstats with the 3D flyover feature…

Unfortunately, Apple rejected this version. The reason is that the code is using some of the HealthKit API. Actually it is appears to be using it because I am currently working on a version that will let you look at the steps and other information recorded via the Apple Health App or your Apple Watch. It is not yet enabled as I am still working on it and I am waiting until it’s ready for prime time. But the Apple review team rejected it on the basis that my code should not appear to potentially use health data if it’s not clear to the user why.

So I will wait until the next version is ready to release the 3D flyover, at this point would be too painful to patch an old version or  remove that code that I know I will need soon.

Flyover maps in ConnectStats 2.5

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 09.36.24I recently saw an article on iOS development, explaining the maps features available to developers. I had never realised it was possible to enable in an app the 3d views you see in the apple Map app. A little bit of fiddling later and you can now see your course in gorgeous 3d views if you have an iPhone that supports it and your city is covered by the feature.

I haven’t really yet figured out how it can help you with training or analysing your data better, but it looks great and is a pretty neat way to relive some of your runs or rides, so here it is available in connectstats 2.5 (under review by apple at the time of this writing)

How to

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 09.43.15To enable it, simply go to the detail page, switch to the satellite view and tap anywhere on the map, it will then show you the closest point on your course in 3d. You can then use the normal controls of the map to zoom or move around.

Small Gallery

You can see here a few samples from recent runs. Enjoy!

 

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 09.39.02Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 09.45.29Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 09.44.27

What the Summary Stats say about September

Looking at the summary stats September turned out a pretty good month for my running.

Looking at the fitness vs fatigue graph section corresponding to september, the line stayed pretty constant, showing I kept my training level pretty constant. Later in the month I pushed a bit more as the peak in fatigue shows.

Simulator_Screen_Shot_17_Oct_2015__21_12_12In the bottom graph, the thicker black line shows the best speed achieved for given distances in september. I achieved my best speed of the year for all distance between 6km and 13km. You can see that as the thicker black line for september is the minimum for the year, and I did quite significantly better in speed than august.

Simulator_Screen_Shot_17_Oct_2015__21_12_27Meanwhile the best heart rate profile shows that this was achieved without pushing the heart rate more than the other months. Actually, the september line (black thick line) stays quite below the max of the year for any duration. This is pretty satisfying: better speed without pushing ¬†much more…