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.

Each of the top three apps have been reviewed at length and links to the full reviews are provided in the app summaries.


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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Cardio Trainer

athlete with lighttrace
Credit: Henrik Sorensen

Taking the top spot is Cardio Trainer.

This app has great mapping, has a full-featured free version and can be personalized with multiple settings. The app is stable on both the Motorola Droid and HTC Incredible, and it is incredibly accurate with both its distance and speed recording. 

The interface is clean, clear, and easy-to-use from the moment you first start using the app. Cardio Trainer provides a map of your route and can be viewed while you are still out on the streets. 

With features like a built-in music player, voice feedback and choosing to record in miles or kilometers, Cardio Trainer is really an amazing app.

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Run Keeper

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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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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Keep Running

This app doesn't meet all of the criteria set above, but it is included in the list because of one ingenious, fun, and motivational feature: you can set the minimum speed you want to run (or walk, bike, hike, etc.) and the app, using the built-in GPS of your Android, let's you know if you fall below your speed threshold.

How does it alert you that you've dropped below your speed? It's built-in music player shuts down the second you go too slow!

Simple and ingenious, this feature is great for anyone who wants to set speed goals during their workout. With the ability to adjust the minimum speed before each workout, you can set your workout goal and then use Keep Running to make sure you have instant feedback to keep moving at your set pace.