Guillaume Hérail

Ramblings in Frenglish

OpenTracks, the privacy respecting sport tracker

Posted on — Jan 7, 2021

OpenTracks is “A sport tracker that completely respects your privacy.”.

I’ve been getting back to running lately and I wanted something to track my runs and see how I did. I used to have sport/smart watches in the past and while these worked pretty well, they are pulling more and more data about you and your runs and I didn’t feel comfortable sharing these anymore.

I thus started looking into privacy-respecting alternatives and while I was doing that, I stumbled upon a toot from Hyde who was looking for the same thing. The first answer mentioned OpenTracks so I installed it and took it for a spin.

The app does what it advertises: it completely respects your privacy. The only permission it will ask is, unsurprisingly, the location one (ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION). Still in that vein of respecting your privacy, it will create .gpx/.kmz files but won’t display your track on any map. OpenTracks took a different direction to provide that feature: the app will focus on the essential but has an API that allows developers to create Dashboards for it. Currently there are 2 dashboard that I know of:

You are not forced to use either of these two options to display your track, OpenTracks is open and will share your track with any app compatible that you wish to share it with: you are in control.

Another good point about this app is that it supports Bluetooth LE sensors. You can connect the sensors you need and bundle their data with your tracks! It currently supports Heart Rate / Cadence / Power and Speed sensors. You can find a list of tested sensors here.

I don’t wear a watch while running and getting my phone out with gloves currently is cumbersome though OpenTracks has a nice feature: voice announcements. Once activated in the settings, it’ll announce the current time on the track, your distance and speed. It’s especially important as I listen to podcasts while running and can lose track of time. I’ve set it to announce the time every 15 minutes so that I can adjust my course as I go and not be completely off with regards to my objective.

One thing that bit me at first is that location tracking is opt-in. If you tap on the record button, it will record right away but if you didn’t activate the GPS in the app (in the upper right corner), it won’t track you. I now always wait for the GPS fix before starting to record.

For now, the app suits me perfectly. The only things I’d wish for is more analytics (being tracked in this issue: #379).

Go run!

This is day 5/100 of #100DaysToOffLoad!