nike plus running

Nike has posted a significant update to its popular Running app today, bringing it to version 4.3. While the update only includes a handful of improvements, and one new feature, that new feature is a pretty big deal.

It’s called Nike+ Challenges, and just as you’d expect, it allows you to challenge your friends to a race. You simply set the distance, send an invite to another Nike+ user, and the app will track each of your progresses…

Here are the release notes for 4.3:

INTRODUCING NIKE+ CHALLENGES 

Ready to take on your friends? With Nike+ Challenges, you’ll compete with your friends and motivate each other to go farther and faster than ever before. Track your progress, top the leaderboard, and snag a medal. Every run counts. 

• Choose a distance and invite your Nike+ friends. 
• Keep track of who’s in the lead and stay motivated through group chats. 
• Finish a Challenge before your friends and take home a medal. We’ll leave the bragging rights to you. 

Admittedly, I’ve seen similar features in other apps and products—I’m pretty sure my Jawbone UP did something to this effect—but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it done this well, in real time. Maybe it has been though.

But outside of it just being a ‘cool feature,’ I think Nike+ Challenges serves as a reminder for folks to not overlook Nike as rumors swirl about that Apple and other companies are looking to get into the fitness tracking space.

Think about it. Even if you forget the Nike+ FuelBand, Nike has tracking sensors (or sensor spots) in nearly all its athletic shoe offerings. And it has a huge online community, with engaged forum users, and endless resources.

Anyway, back to the app. It’s worth checking out if you haven’t already—or even if it’s been a while. It received a huge face lift last fall, and today’s update makes it that much better. You can find it in the App Store, for free.