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Stages Cycling Android app launches: thoughts and impressions.

Thursday, July 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

July
3
2014

Stages Cycling power meter owners who use iOS mobile devices have had a Stages app available in the iTunes app store (link) for quite some time now. This app is actually critically important, as it is the only way end-users can perform their own Stages power meter firmware upgrades.

After an agonizingly lengthy development period, Stages Cycling has finally released an Android app for use with their power meters (link). This was welcome news for me, as ours is an Android household.

This morning I’d like to go over this fairly simple, yet important, Android app, and give you my impressions.

I need to mention straight away that those of you with older Android devices will be disappointed: the Stages app requires Android version 4.4+ (Kit Kat). Stages has announced their intentions to make the app compatible with older versions of the Android OS, but for now you’ll need to find a friend with an iOS-based device or a newer Android-based device if you want to upgrade your firmware (you do).

I installed the free app on my Galaxy S4 (Verizon, running Android 4.4.2), and was greeted with the Device Discovery screen upon launch (click to enlarge):

StagesPower Android App: Device Discovery Screen

StagesPower Android App: Device Discovery Screen

 

Stages power meters go into sleep mode after a few minutes of inactivity, so you’ll want to rotate the cranks to wake the power meter up. Once the power meter is alive, it should show up on the Device Discovery screen along with some green bars that indicate the strength of the Bluetooth signal.

Once I selected my power meter, I was taken to the main screen. The main screen shows the Power and Cadence data, which obviously requires the bike to be in motion. Because virtually everyone who rides with a power meter uses a bike computer of some sort (I use the Garmin Edge 810), this information is superfluous.

Below the Power and Cadence display you’ll find the main options: “Zero Reset”, “Tools” and “Update Firmware”. The currently running firmware is displayed at bottom left (click to enlarge):

StagesPower Android App: Main Screen

StagesPower Android App: Main Screen

 

As you can see in the above photograph, the option to “Update Firmware” is greyed out. This is because I’d already upgraded my Stage’s firmware to the latest version (v2.0.51 at the time of this writing). The ability to upgrade the firmware is, in my opinion, the most important function of the app, and I’m pleased to report that the upgrade went quickly and flawlessly.

You can also perform a “Zero Reset” of your power meter using the app (click to enlarge):

StagesPower Android App: Zero Reset Screen

StagesPower Android App: Zero Reset Screen

 

It was probably not a bad idea to include the Zero Reset feature for the sake of completeness, but most cyclists will choose to perform the quick and easy calibration procedure just before rolling out using their bike computers.

Finally, there is the “Tools” screen, which is really just an informational display (click to enlarge):

StagesPower Android App: Tools Screen

StagesPower Android App: Tools Screen

 

There are a few features found in the iOS app that are conspicuously absent here. Most notably, there is no battery level indicator, and I find that baffling. Knowing the status of the battery in the power meter is pretty darn important as far as I’m concerned. No one wants to have their power meter die in the middle of a big ride or race! Hopefully the next version of the app will include this very important feature.

While lacking some of its iOS counterpart’s secondary features, the primary functionality of the Android app–the ability to upgrade the power meter’s firmware–is in there, and it works very well. Hopefully subsequent releases of the Android app will provide a little more parity with the iOS version, but at least now Android owners (well, Android 4.4+ users) can keep their power meters upgraded with the latest and greatest firmware.

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