A Guide to Android's Best Free Running Apps

Hit the road and record every step

Backview of woman
Patrik Giardino / Getty Images

There are many apps on Google Play geared for runners. These are in addition to the step counters from Google Fit and Samsung Health that are usually pre-installed on the device.

While most of the apps in the Play Store share common features, three of these apps have features that set them apart from the rest of the apps.

There are three main factors that used here to judge these apps:

  1. The app must be free, or at least have a feature-rich free version.
  2. The app must have mapping features using the GPS built into Android phones.
  3. The app must be able to be personalized.

All of the apps below should be equally available no matter which company makes your Android phone, including Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

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Run Keeper

Runkeeper app on Android

Run Keeper comes in at a solid second place for running-based Android apps.

While it does not have the personalization options that Cardio Trainer offers, it is the master of social networking. If you are part of a fitness or running group that uses Twitter or Facebook to share with and compete against other members, Run Keeper is your app.

The mapping feature is solid and, unlike our third place contestant, you can view the map anytime during your workout—not just when you've stopped the session. 

Unfortunately, the app comes up short in a few areas:

  • No way to find out how many calories you've burned
  • No internal music player
  • No altimeter.

Despite a few drawbacks that may be addressed in future updates, Run Keeper is a solid app at a solid price: Free.

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Runtastic app on Android

Rounding out the top three running apps for Android is Runtastic.

Very similar in features and functions to Cardio Trainer and Run Keeper, Runtastic is geared towards cardio exercises like running, walking, biking, and hiking. The interface is easy to use and its mapping feature is accurate and powerful.

So, if Runtastic shares the most common and useful features as the top two apps, why does Runtastic finish third? Unfortunately, you can only view the map of your route after you complete your workout. It also has limited personalization settings, and it lacks of an internal music player.

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Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! app on Android

Zombies, Run! is a killer running app for Android (and iOS) that turns your regular run into a post-apocalyptic survival audio experience so you can forget just how tedious running is. Scripted radio transmissions are intermingled with your regular music collection that build upon the Zombies, Run! story and random zombie events will trigger during your route, forcing you to run faster or lose in-app points. It's intermittent exercise, but in a whole new way.