We put Under Armour's HOVR technology to the test, logging some miles in the sneakers to find out if the embedded chip and the MapMyRun connectivity make a difference during workouts.
If you’ve ever used a running app then you know that they can all begin to blend together, and the same thing can be said about running shoes.
There are so many on the market that all seem to promise the same things: a lighter product, an improved experience and a new technology that promises to make it feel like you’re not running at all.
While the idea might seem trite, Under Armour is trying to provide its customers the perfect combination of new running technology with a running app for the digital age with its “HOVR” shoes—the Phantom and the Sonic—that come with MapMyRun technology packaged within them.
The shoes themselves are also a solid step in the next direction for Under Armour’s running shoes, as the shoes grip your foot and are light enough not to feel like a burden on longer runs. The HOVR technology is also a very interesting new feature, with an underfoot cushioning that absorbs a lot of energy and returns much of it in each step.
Under Armour wanted a zero gravity feel for the shoes, so that each step was effortless and light for the runner. No one wants a running shoe that you have to actively think about during a run and the HOVRs do their job. The shoes do feel slippery when walking on smoother surfaces like wood or marble, but once you’re outside, they grip most surfaces nicely.
Many brands have tried including technology in their shoes that help runners measure their progress and pace and connect them with other runners locally or across the country. When using Under Armour’s Phantoms or Sonics, you simply download the MapMyRun app and go through a short, five-minute process to connect the app with the sensor in the right shoe. Once linked, you don’t have to worry about reconnecting or recharging the sensor. If you’re someone who prefers to run without a phone in hand, the HOVRs are capable of storing the data from your run in the shoes and the information can be uploaded to the app.
What separates the HOVR tech and MapMyRun from other footpods developed by other companies? Ben McAllister, UA’s director of product and connected fitness says that the HOVRs can reveal a swath of data that would have previously required extensive purchases and extra gear to access before.
In short, the HOVR technology makes running and accessing the data from those runs more user friendly. MapMyRun also tracks everything from calories burned to stride length and can connect with Under Armour’s other popular app, MyFitnessPal, that is used to curate a specific diet for the user. I found the connection a bit buggy—each time I tried to connect the app to MyFitnessPal, the app would crash after establishing a “connection.”
Despite a couple connectivity issues, I enjoyed using the MapMyRun app for more than just running. I especially like its community system, which will be familiar to those who frequently use social media. While many other running apps such as Nike Run Club try to make things into a competition and lend themselves toward a leaderboard-based system that applies to certain competitive runners, UA has opted to create a system that feels a bit more like a Facebook for runners. The curated communities within the MapMyRun app connect you with runners all around the world and provide more positive reinforcement for runners, instead of creating an ultra-competitive environment. For someone like me that simply enjoys running a couple times a week and doesn’t get concerned about competing times, MapMyRun was a welcome addition to my phone. The app, as the name suggests, can also plot out your run, giving you a rudimentary representation of your path and allowing for some fun opportunities if you want to attempt to draw a picture with your workout.
I personally enjoyed using MapMyRun and felt like it added a new dimension to my workout. I was used to running app-less and having a little voice to tell me how far I’d gone, my pace and an average of my pace to that point was comforting and incredibly informative. Knowing my previous pace let me know how much time I had gained or lost told me when to adjust and gave me an easy reference point to look back at once I was done. The app not only enhances your workout, but posting about it afterward and viewing others encouragement is something I look forward to in the future and will likely convince me to get out and run more.
If you’re looking not only for a new running shoe that not only offers a light and firm experience, but also can connect you with runners locally and internationally who will take an interest in your progress and pump you up after every run once you’ve been entrenched in the community, the Under Armour HOVR Phantoms and Sonics, along with the MayMyRun feature, are a worthwhile purchase.