Just swipe your finger over a map, and Strava’s Route Builder for Mobile will create a run route for you. Read on…
For runners and cyclists who want to plan safe, exciting routes to run and cycle in new places, a new Strava feature called Route Builder for Mobile is promising to make that process easier.
Strava’s director of communications Andrew Vontz says that the new mobile feature is an excellent way to create commuting routes or safe and efficient ways to explore a city.
“You can land almost anywhere in the world, someplace you’ve never visited before, and with just a few swipes on a map, create the best possible route,” Vontz said.
So how’s Route Builder for Mobile different from other mapping software? Using Google Maps or a similar smartphone app “will just take you the shortest path between points A and B,” said senior product manager Graham Keggi, adding that this mobile tool uses Strava’s heat maps—more than 1 billion activities and 13 trillion data points collected worldwide—to craft the best possible route for your chosen activity.
To use the new Route Builder feature, just trace a rough route over the map with your finger. (The old Route Builder desktop version uses multiple point-and-click waypoints instead of finger swipes, but the principle is basically the same.) The app does the rest. It’s quick and impossibly easy. After you create the route, you can either print out a cue sheet or export the route to a device that supports GPX or TCX import.
Strava’s Route Builder for Mobile aims to help you find the best, safest routes in new places.
Engineer Drew Robb came up with the idea for the mobile version in December, during one of the Strava Jam innovation retreats held each quarter. Company officials loved the idea and fast-tracked the project; Route Builder For Mobile rocketed from concept to public beta test in only two months.
User feedback has yet to roll in, and all three men expect features to be added based on those comments. Some functions from the beefier desktop version may eventually migrate down to the mobile version as well. Gravity-challenged runners love that version’s option to create a route with the least amount of elevation change, but that’s not yet an feature for the app.
Beyond safety, the app also has distinct creative possibilities—namely, that riders can plot out Strava art more easily and efficiently than on a desktop program. Although the finished route might be slightly different as Strava navigates users to nearby, more bike-or run-friendly streets, it usually comes very close to the original concept.
An intricate design that might take an hour or more creating on the desktop version can be created in minutes or even seconds on the mobile version, then quickly downloaded to your bike computer.
Gene Lu got his start creating Strava art several years ago, becoming inspired by the Game of Thrones TV show.
“I thought it’d be fun to run routes in the shape of the House sigils from the show,” Lu said. “At first, I was first mapping these designs out on Google Maps, which was very limiting as it only gives you a handful of points to play with. A few years later, I switched to Strava’s (desktop-version) Route Builder, which gives you almost a limitless amount of points to play with. This bumped my run route designs up to a new level of detail.”
The new Strava tool will make it easier for him and other artistic athletes to sketch out initial concepts, he says, as well as motivate beginners to start designing their own routes.
The new feature is available to all Strava Summit subscribers (starts at $3/month).