A year ago Strava killed off sensor support, earning the ire of millions…perhaps even if they rarely used the feature. As users, our collective annoyance was more about principle than anything else. It also didn’t help that Strava’s reasoning at the time basically threw their own development/engineering team under the bus, making them look incompetent, saying then “Supporting Bluetooth devices was causing the app to crash during recording, whether or not a sensor was connected. Disabling this feature significantly improves recording stability for all athletes.”
Well, good news is here: Bluetooth sensor support is coming back.
To what extent, and when, and to whom, or even what’s changed circumstance or tech-wise….is all a wee bit fuzzy.
The only statement Strava’s willing to give, is saying the following:
“For a small part of the Strava community, BLE support — especially for heart rate — continues to be a high value feature and frequent feature request. We’re exploring how to bring it back in a way that works for these athletes and the community at large.”
Ultimately, the core thing to know is that as of today Strava is *SLOWLY* starting to roll it out in beta to random people (and, some non-random people, like me). Beginning about two hours ago, with the latest Strava app updates, you may get offered the ability to pair Bluetooth (BLE) heart rate sensors to the Strava iOS and Android apps.
Here’s a super quick video on how it works:
So let’s do a short tour: ‘What’s old is new again!’ Edition:
How it works:
Assuming you get selected as one of the anointed ones (where no precise qualification criteria exists), then using it is silly easy. First, you’ll load up the record screen like you’re going to record a ride directly within Strava (that’s pressing the ‘Record’ button at the bottom center). This will then show your location as usual. However, you’ll notice a new ‘heart’ icon along the bottom row. Simply tap that.
Now it’ll ask for permission to access Bluetooth, so it can find your Bluetooth Smart sensors. After you’ve agreed to Strava using your goods, then it’ll enumerate a list of nearby and turned on Bluetooth Smart HR sensors. It won’t show any other sensor types in my testing.
Now, simply tap on a sensor, and it’ll add it to the list of ‘your sensors’. After which, you’ll also see the icon at the bottom of the record screen has changed and shows your heart rate:
Next, start your activity and do your thing. Your heart rate is displayed in real-time on the main data page (also known as…the only data page). You’ll also see the HR sensor shown in the ‘Settings’ page as well. It’ll also remember previously saved sensors, and automatically re-connect to them for the next session, so you don’t have to re-pair again. You can also easily remove the sensors that are paired in the same sensors menu that you saw above. Easy stuff.
One odd quirk though of Strava’s activity recording feature is you can’t actually make a non-GPS activity. Meaning, you can’t actually make an indoor activity. Which…yeah. Strava says you can modify it to be an indoor activity later, but really, it’s bizarre (and has always been bizarre).
Once you’re done, you simply save it like normal. It’ll then show up on your activity feed like normal.
I’ll be doing a longer workout in a short bit to see if there’s any data consistency quirks to be aware of, but in my short test thus far, things seem normal.
This is a good move, and I appreciate it. Do I use Bluetooth sensors with Strava frequently? No, not generally. But I’m probably not normal either. I’m currently wearing two watches and an extra sensor band. However, there are lots of people that use Strava to record their workouts and want an extra layer of data but don’t want to buy a watch (my brother is one of those people actually). Sure, they could have used a 3rd party app from Wahoo or otherwise, but it’s rarely a good idea to push core functionality out of your own app. This looks to start to realize that.
It also seems to be part of Strava’s long efforts this year to Make Strava Great Again with new feature after new feature after new feature…following years of nothingness. I mean, unless you’re not a paying subscriber – in which case this year has been mostly a disaster for you. While the Segments bits got all the media attention, the reality is that Strava has continued to slowly remove features from non-paying members each month…as many of you send me notes about.
We don’t know though whether this will be a Strava Subscriber feature or not actually, Strava’s not saying. So perhaps non-subscribers will get something out of this. Or, perhaps you’ll lose some more features to make up for it. I don’t know.
But what I do know is that this post is already too long, and being Friday night – I’ve got pizzas to make with the kiddos.
With that – thanks for reading!
Lo and behold. About time (again). And yes – removing it and admit utter incompetence was and still is awful. Now… I hope it being beta and just heartrate currently that other BLE sensors will be supported, too. Using the app in a pinch (cycling headunit fubar, forgot to charge or simply wanting to check /test the powermeter with a different means) was always nice to have.
Good – but how to make Strava REALLY REALLY better: Stop all those feeds of who joined which challenge and clubs 😉 (Or give one an option to ignore this silliness)
During the last week of every month one has to scroll and scroll and scroll (did I mention scroll?) past this – some people (eg I) really don’t care about who joined what, and who is AGAIN going for a 5k challenge this month. (On top of it, some seems to join every available club, what is the use!))
I also cannot believe there is no setting to ignore. Also a setting to ignore workouts of shorter than 1km or 10 min. I do not need to give kudos for warm ups or walks home after work.
You can use a plugin/extension for your browser called STRAVINI and it cleans up your timeline!:)
They will not give you that because they get paid money to show you them
They get money to show challenges (like the generic monthly 5k/10k/21k runs) they created? Out of 42 challenges available, only 6 are partner challenges.
Never heard of that before, but it seems to do the job. Thanks!
They’re gonna show you all so they can get paid for the 6 and they’d like everything to get sponsored
would be nice if it connected to gym-kit treadmills!
From what I remember, the feature was kinda tucked-away anyway in previous iterations and it always felt like a faff to get it enabled. Good to see they’re putting it front and center this time.
Strava is turning into Garmin, LOL. Weren’t the Strava founders part of a company that was bought by Garmin and did not want to hang around?
No, that was Motionbased.com – effectively a Strava competitor probably from before Strava’s days actually.
Does it sync RR if you the HRM-PRO or -DUAL?
Not that I’m aware of.
Why polar h10 is a best heart rate chest strap?
I’m not sure it is. It’s very good though.
In the case of the straps I used here, they were simply the straps I found first from a variety of brands nearby.
Does this new feature work with Apple Watch for you?
Apple Watch doesn’t show up in the list, no, but you can use the Strava Apple Watch app, which then gets HR via the Apple Watch recording. But that doesn’t cover the mapping side.
(Note: I haven’t however tried the Strava Apple Watch app concurrently, so maybe that’ll work somehow).
Just a heads up, it’s “earn the ire”, not “irk the ire”, which would mean “annoying the anger”
Indeed. Basically I had written it one way (irking millions), and then tweaked the wording (going with ‘ire’ instead) and forgot to fix the first half of the sentence. Doh.
This past year, since they pulled sensor support, the reliability of the app to perform Strava’s most-basic core feature — record the ride/run — has gotten so much worse. Often, the recording just stops for no apparent reason. I’ll finish a 200km ride, pull up the app to finish the activity, and see “total distance: 5.7km”. Other apps on the same phone that record the track at the same time never have trouble, but Strava fails about a third of the time.
I’d been able to talk a number of hard-core (but old-school) cyclists into giving Strava a try, and universally they were surprised to find out how much they liked what it brought to their world, but because it would fail to record so often, it wasn’t reliable and so they just let it go. )-:
Doesn’t really help matters unless they bring back support for other BLE devices such as a Wahoo cadence sensor.
Nice to know (although I rarely used it).
What’s really needed on Strava: A better way to sort out all those E-Bike-Cheaters.
E-Bike sells blow up this year and most of new Strava-users seem to be electric riders (in our area). And unfortunately a lot of them don’t care (or don’t know) about the correct activity mode.
Strava should force all new bike-users to add a bike and to add a checkmark for E-Bike, so all rides will be an “E-Bike-Ride” by default.
Also, if a rider is flagged several times by several people, all his past rides should be categorised as e-bike-rides as well.
Unrelated question to Strava: I gave up on heart rate chest straps years ago because when I swam it always kept either falling off or moving downward. I am pretty happy with my Polar OH1 for swims and others activities. but I was thinking of trying the heart rate strap again. I like have having mulitple connections either ANT, BLE, or both without being tied down to one particular brand. Do you have any recommendations?
Yeah, I’d go with Polar H10, Garmin HRM-DUAL, or Wahoo TICKR.
How are these with swimming as far as movement?
Oh, they’re all useless in swimming because they can’t broadcast to the watch through the water. Sorry, I thought you were talking outside of swimming.
Garmin’s HRM-PRO and Wahoo’s TICKR X (as well as the Polar H10) can save activity data. In the case of Garmin though, it’s really only if you have one of their watches. Whereas Wahoo can push to any platform, and Polar can push to their own platform.
Not, sure but I thought my old Polar V800 and chest straps used to transmit heart rate in water. I stopped using the chest straps because it would not stay put.
Anyone had success using the Polar H10 while swimming? I tried a few times to capture data using the offline mode and Polar Beat app. Every time I entered the water the data stopped. Started again outside the water
Related to HRMs, what’s the story with quality or supply issues at Wahoo? The new TIKR and X have been ‘out of stock’ for months and reviews suggest many early hardware failures. Just a COVID supply chain issue or a QA issue?
Thank goodness. Been hoping and waiting. Strava was becoming a upload platform only as nobody could use it as the actual tracking app. With sensor integration back, they’ll gain a lot more subscriptions from those not using bike computers or Garmin watches
I don’t have a watch or a modern bike computer, but I do have a Bluetooth HR strap, so I just use the free Wahoo app to record my activities (including HR) and then sync them to Strava from the Wahoo app. Easy peasy. It adds a step or two, but it’s really quite simple. Yes, it would be nice if I didn’t have to go through the extra step, but it’s quite low on my list of problems.
If I remember correctly Strava heart rate didplayed average heart as opposed to actual hr which isn’t usable with HR training.
It shows actual HR here. For example I played around with it and some sprints, and it showed my actual HR as the sprint progressed and then went back down again.
This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. Thanks for posting this. I’m trying to run a sub 3:00:00 marathon in a month, and use my heartrate as guidance. I have a fitbit (charge 3), but it rarely registers my heartrate correct for an entire run. Especially interval runs and the higher end of my heart rate often get missed. During a marathon, it is essential that your heartrate stays nice and low for the first part. I bought a Wahoo Tickr for this cause.
Therefore it is great if you don’t need to look at your watch continously, but just hear your current heartrate as a part of the strava audio cue. Can you confirm that that is a possibility again with this update? Thanks in advance 🙂
First, BIG thank you for all your posts/videos/everything, you ROCK! I’ve read your site for a long long time and today I just felt…. I need to comment, for the first time! 😛
Secondly, do you have any update around this feature? I heard that it’s still in test only and I haven’t seen it…yet. It’s not super duper important, since I’m pretty satisfied with my Garmin 945, however I don’t like when Strava took it away since I have sometimes used it in the past and whilst riding my bike, to be able to get constant update before my eyes.
Have a great day and your latest video is really good showing how the DJI drone performs in strong winds!
Just destroyed my apple watch on a MTB ride and need to prepare for XC ski season. So I either buy another apple watch, bring my bike head unit with me when skiing, or go without HR….. really wish they’d release this already – at least for those who are Strava paying subscribers.
I’ve been enjoying recording Bluetooth sensors (Favero pedals, Wahoo HR / Cadence / Speed (it’s paired but unused, I guess?)) by not updating my app when I heard they were going to kill the features. Only problem I’ve ever had is pairing a sensor occasionally. For basic recording and not needing routing the app works great. Just add the damn sensors back and make it a feature for subscribers.
100s of activities later their APIs still seem to happily accept the uploaded sensor data from the iOS Strava app.
That’s some impressive commitment to not hitting the update button!
Any updates on this feature being rolled out to a standard release? I checked the record session on my app and it’s not showing a heart rate option/button
Wonder if it will also support the ANT+ connectors found in many Android phones?
I bought a couple of ant+ devices because
1) ANT+ were cheaper than bluetooth or combo devices
2) ANT+ had significantly better battery life at the time (though this may have improved some)
So far, I think not given the comment alongside the last update (picture linked). In the same situation as you are, I find it a bit of a shame given that it was an already working feature before the removal of sensors support, and not all Strava user owns iPhones.
Bad cropping ! ?
Any update on whether they’re bringing power meter pairing back? They’ve had heart rate pairing back for a while now and the FAQ indicates/strongly hints that the plan it to add power meter/cadence pairing back if all goes well.
I saw a killer deal on a Stages crank based power meter, but I’d only buy if I can pair it with the standard Strava app.