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by Dave Rome
November 18, 2020
Photography by Dave Rome
First it giveth. Then it taketh away.
It was almost 13 months ago that Strava removed the ability to use external Bluetooth and ANT+ sensors within its phone app. Today Strava has announced that Bluetooth support for external heart rate measurement is back, and best of all it’s open to both paid subscribers and free users, too.
Prior to removing compatibility, Strava suggested the feature was causing app stability issues, something that, according to a spokesperson from the company, has now been resolved. “There was legacy code supporting our old direct pairing with BLE/ANT+ devices that caused the app to crash for millions of athletes,” the spokesperson said. “In order to reliably support BLE pairing, we had to remove the feature to fix the underlying problems.”
Strava downplayed the popularity of the feature at the time, but even a small percentage of the company’s 70-million-strong user base is likely a substantial number that were forced to go elsewhere if they wanted such a feature.
The return of this feature allows those using a Bluetooth heart rate sensor to connect directly to their phone through the Strava app and see the data in real-time. Strava has made no mention of whether it’ll return ANT+ connectivity, however it seems unlikely.
All users will be able to view real-time heart rate information within the app and analyse efforts post-workout. Paid subscribers will have access to more detailed heart rate metrics.
Of course the new feature is currently limited to heart rate, however further connectivity options might well follow. “Our plan is to first roll out heart rate monitors with BLE pairing to ensure it’s working as intended before we look at expanding to power / cadence meters,” said Strava’s spokesperson. “We don’t have a hard timeline but if our rollout of BLE pairing works as planned, you can expect power / cadence meter support to be recording devices that we would look at to support in the future.”
And with phone mounts from the likes of Quad Lock and Peak Design being impressively good these days, I’m sure many are eagerly awaiting Strava’s next move.