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Strava Announces Family Plan, Dark Mode, AI Cheat Finder

Strava has just announced a slate of updates at their annual Camp Strava event, where they show off a bunch of newness. This year’s event is the first time new CEO, Michael Martin, is at the helm, after starting back in January – and he appears very keen to say ‘there’s a new sheriff in town’. And I’ll give them credit, their little 82 second teaser video is hilariously well done – it’s simply their CEO sitting there, reading mean social media comments…and agreeing to them!

In total, there’s a slate of things coming, some more concrete – and some a bit more fuzzy. Here’s the quick-hit list, and then I’ll dive into the nuances a bit more down below:

– Adding new family plan for up to four family or friends in a group (except, the pricing is TBD)
– Adding mobile app ‘Dark Mode’
– Adding night heat maps to show which routes are better/safer for night workouts
– Adding new quick edit feature to edit workout details
– Adding new “Athlete Intelligence” feedback, akin to basic coaching feedback on activities
– Adding “AI-Enabled Leaderboard Integrity” to sniff out improbable uploads

All of these things are coming from what Strava says is a revamped development process within the company, with them specifically saying it’s using an “updated design system, an initiative that is integral in driving a heightened pace of product innovation at the company.”

The new CEO of Strava, Michael Martin, goes on to say:

“We are focused on two fundamental shifts to accelerate how we deliver value to 125 million people globally– building for women and leveraging Artificial Intelligence – which will unlock new community-and-partner-powered experiences across the platform.”

Of course, as always, the proof will be in the pudding. Virtually nothing announced today is actually available today, it’s all coming sometime between “this summer” and “later this year”. Thus, let’s dive slightly deeper.

The New Bits Detailed:

The company announced these updates via both a press release and an on-stage event. Neither are super deep in their technical details, however some pieces have more clarity that others. Let’s start with the most financially interesting one: Family Plans.

Family Plan:

The new family plan will allow up to four people to join together under a single paid membership that has all the same rights/features as an individual membership. Further, you don’t need to live at the same address. Strava specifically notes that it can be any four people, as long as they’re within the same country (and aren’t already members). In other words, you could find three other ride buddies and split the cost between yourselves.

Strava has actually posted a detailed FAQ page on this already, covering a slate of questions – minus the most important one: How pricey? The company says they’re working through the details on that, and this will start rolling out to select countries this summer.

The family plan is only offered as an annual subscription. If you’re already a subscriber, you can cancel your current subscription and then join a family group. You won’t lose any data/features/etc…

This could be super interesting – and I think really appealing for a lot of…well..families. But also a lot of other friends of mine that don’t bother to have paid subscriptions for Strava, as they don’t use the features often enough. This might nudge them over the edge. Or, inversely, it might cause a bunch of really clever cyclists/runners to simply band together and split the bill. It’ll all depend on the final cost.

Dark Mode:

This is a simple one. Strava says this summer they’ll roll out the widely requested ‘Dark Mode’ feature to the mobile apps, which will automatically utilize your device’s overall light/dark mode settings. Here’s a pretty picture of it they included:

See, that was easy?

Night Heat Maps:

Next, the company is adding night heat maps, which will tell you which routes are better at night, specifically between sunset and sunrise. The company put this under the category of “Build for her. Build for many”, which is a set of initiatives that, while aimed at women, are applicable/useful to many more.

In the case of the night heat maps, here’s how they describe them:

Night Heatmaps show only activities between sundown and sunrise – so athletes can get an idea of which roads, trails, and paths are well-trafficked after hours. Since Night Heatmaps filter for after-hours routes, it can be a helpful tool for female athletes training before sunrise and after sunset.

Again, this would be super useful, and frankly really cool to see the data – both for riding and running. Once you live in a given location long enough you tend to have your favorite night routes. But I’d be keen to see which routes I never visit at night, are actually quite well visited. Should be super interesting

New Quick Edit Feature:

This next feature is a bit fuzzy, at least at the moment. It’s titled quick edits, and I’ll once again let Strava explain it:

“For active women, having control over what is shared with the Strava community that cheers them on – like what time a run is logged – is important. Quick Edit makes it easier to make the most common edits – like activity name, and privacy settings so you can hide your start time, your map, or other workout stats.”

My guess here is that this will make things a bit more one-tap, rather than digging though a slate of menus for some of these features. We’ll have to see of course.

Athlete Intelligence:

Next, there’s a whole slate of coach-like features, which are going to look at your activities and then provide feedback/thoughts on them, looking at trends and other areas. Here’s some screenshots the company released:

In it, you can see the system at the top, which the company notes is very much not an AI chatbot like seen on Whoop or other platforms, but instead asks specific questions (“What’s your focus this week?”), and then follows up with specific responses. You can ask it to “Say More”, as well as see further details. You can see how it’s pulling in existing data that Strava displays today, assumedly in a more visible manner than stats buried deep in pages you might not ever visit.

Having AI-powered something is of course all the rage for tech companies. I appreciate that Strava isn’t just adding another useless AI-powered chatbot that constantly gives you poor training advice, but instead seems to be tapering expectations and reach.

AI Leaderboard Integrity:

Last but not least, Strava has announced a new “AI-Enabled Leaderboard Integrity” system that’ll try and find more incorrectly tagged e-bike rides and airplane flights:

“The first of these updates, AI-enabled Leaderboard Integrity, will harness machine learning to automatically flag irregular, improbable, or impossible activities recorded to the platform. Trained by millions of activities, this feature allows all users on Strava to play fair and have more fun.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this goes. I’d hope this is some initiative that has been on a back burner for a while but somehow continually delayed. After all, users have been begging for this stuff for like a decade, so I’m not clear on what’s suddenly changed. Well, except the new CEO. Which, may be the singular reason this is finally happening. Here’s to hoping!

With that, this looks like a very solid start to things people actually want. Since we’re asking – can we finally get grouping for triathlon data into a single cohesive activity, as opposed to split into five activities? I mean, just asking for a friend.

Thanks, and thanks for reading!

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52 Comments

  1. Carl

    Am I reading the Plan table correctly? If you are on the Free Account, you can no longer compete on leaderboards, so you can’t go for KOMs? That’s a WT? from me.

    • I’m 99% certain that’s actually referring to the change made years ago that you can’t see the full leaderboard on a free account. At least, that’s how they’ve always worded it.

    • Neil

      It changed recently. I have had both a paid and recently unpaid (since the opaque repricing last year, I cancelled). In the past month or two they have removed the ability to see the time lime graph under “View All My Efforts” when viewing a segment.

      I can still see a PR. But I it seems to go a bit bonkers and get confused if I try to navigate to that effort for any details including a date. Couldn’t be bothered to work out the intended experience.

      The “view all my efforts” is now pay-walled behind “Analyze Your Performance over Time” with a link to subscribe. I am fairly sure this was there until recently as I have a running feud with a neighbour with both of us coming home up a short hill. I would often have a little stalk at his and my performance.

    • Carl

      Thanks Ray. Phew.

  2. Alex

    I wonder if you really need AI for improbable leaderboard entries. Most of the value could come from a pretty simple calculation! With an option for manual review.

    • Brett Corbett

      KOMdefender had these basic rules which would scan and highlight dodgy segments year ago – but they had to shut down when strava changed their API rules – link to x.com.

      Now you can drive in a car at 100kmh on the flat and upload it to strava as a ride and no auto flagging happens, despite them claiming to have improved their algorithms months ago…

    • thrawed

      It’s highly likely they’re just calling it “ai” for marketing purposes and that’s it’s some very basic algorithms not involving machine learning at all.

    • Barry

      Yea, I hate how everything is called AI. That’s just a simple set of parameters – there’s no AI here.

      Of course, for years people have just been saying Strava should just require some type of sensor for an activity to be on a leader board – power meter, HR, cadence – and then they could easily weed out mathematical impossible activities.

    • Carl

      You should have to put in your weight as mandatory. I know people will fudge this. Or Strava sets a baseline weight. They can currently guesstimate your power on a segment anyway, if you don’t have a power meter. e.g. you did 1min @ 12w/kg, then when compared to a power profiling chart – well no human has ever been recorded doing that on a bike – flag. That should be a minimum calculation.
      Power Profile chart here; link to trainingpeaks.com
      Or they could build up a power profile on you specifically. So when you exponentially exceed your (est) watts for a given time – flag.
      Or you did 100km/h on a flat stretch of road or uphill – flag
      BTW, while they’re at it, get rid of Weighted Avg Power – the world uses Normalized Power.
      Strava I’m right here.

    • Paul S.

      The example I like best was a few years ago when they did a challenge in January for something like 20 hours total activity in the month. Very quickly people were posting numbers in excess of nx24 where n is the date, so more hours than were actually possible. Within a week or so people were posting numbers for more hours than there were in January. I think they finally cleaned that up before the challenge ended, but even then it was hard to believe that anyone but a professional athlete would do more than 10 hours a day.

      What I’d like is a switch so that I never see a global leaderboard for anything, challenges, segments, etc. I don’t need to see them, and they just encourage cheating.

  3. Stuart

    I note that they said “coming this summer”, but they didn’t say whether they meant Northern hemisphere summer (June-August) or Southern hemisphere summer (December-February.)

    Cynical? Me? ;)

  4. Boris

    Ray, do you know what “Your best efforts and PRs” mean in the table? Does its absence in a free account mean that I cannot see even my very own PRs for the segment?

    • I believe this is the feature they’re talking about: link to support.strava.com

      (I honestly don’t use that feature very often, and don’t have a free account side-by-side to see which are which).

    • Spiffman

      Best Efforts and PR’s on subscription plans means you can view your top 3 all time ‘best efforts’ over a GPS measured distance (eg 400m, 1K, Half Marathon). You can also see a rolling graph of your top 5 efforts for each distance each year. And each of those efforts link back to the activity in which it was set. It’s kinda nice.

      For free accounts you see can see your single all-time best effort at each distance

  5. Nick Radov

    Still no support for triathlons. 😒

    • Erik

      It is indeed incomprehensible that there is no support for triathlons on Strava, which is also the reason for me not to have a paid account.

    • Yeah, this is one of those ones that I know is ‘low pri’ given how few triathlon people there are relative to something else…but…c’mon, just spit it out on a single activity (they receive it as a single activity).

      Garmin Connect’s triathlon viewer is actually really good here, just do what they did, Strava.

  6. JeffF

    Sounds promising but I’d really like the devs to fully fix the elevation offset on Garmin route transfers that I highlighted to them nearly a year ago and that they half resolved, but which is still broken.
    Main other feature I’m hoping for is club routes, so any club admin can manage them without having to create yet another copy.

  7. Guy

    Still no horse based activities?
    I have a friend that does long distance horse trail events and has to put them in as biking, but can take KOMs on the horse that you probably wouldn’t get on mountain bike, which is somewhat frustrating. Though I can’t blame them for doing this, when there is no other way to track the activities. It can’t be that hard to add a number of horse based categories.

    • Leo

      Why would strava spend limited developer resources on something for 1% of their users (who, tbh misuse strava) while they could add something that makes 50% of their users happy?

    • Neil Jones

      For one thing, those dev efforts don’t have to be mutually exclusive, I’m sure they have a significant To-Do list with several development projects in flight at any one time.

      Secondly, as to your comment of people ‘misusing’ Strava because Strava doesn’t offer them the correct categorisation for their activities, I get your point, but this is something that’s only within Strava’s ability to fix. Those horse riders (or whatever unsupported activity it may be) are probably not going to stop using Strava and will continue to shoe-horn their activities into another category (messing up KOMs in the process) as that’s the only option they have. But if Strava formally embraces them by creating new categories, everyone’s happy again. You might think that it’s unrealistic to expect Strava to divert efforts to supporting niche activities, but they quickly did that to accommodate e-bikes several years ago when they were far less prominent than they are today.

      In recent years Garmin has expanded its categories significantly (including horse riding). In some cases, there’s specific metrics and algorithms associated with them, but in most they’re purely categorisation. Without understating the behind-the-scenes work required, this seems a relatively simple win for Strava as Garmin Connect continues to evolve as a more direct competitor.

    • Spiffman

      And I’d add to your points that if they add Horse Riding (or whatever else is screwing the wrong activities leaderboards) it doesn’t just benefit “the 1% of users (who tbh misuse Strava)” as Leo says, it also benefits whatever percentage of users who’s activity leaderboards is negatively impacted by the 1%

    • Cody Custis

      Adding “Horse” as a category (or allowing users to add categories and tag them as developmental) seems trivial and something that they’re too lazy to do.

      (Spoken as someone who had to manually change e-bike rides to “other” in 2020, lest those rides mess up all manner of data.)

    • John Lee H.

      It‘s the horse doing the work, so why should it be on Strava?
      Anyway, if for what reason ever you want it to be on Strava, simply choose „Training“.
      BUT don‘t pollute bike leaderboards with your horse riding! That‘s really annoying!

  8. Broerie

    Still no weight tracking? 😥

  9. hdb

    I suspect several of these features will show up only on the app, not the website, while other capabilities present on the web platform will never make it to the app. Hopefully the new CEO will introduce the two groups to each other and suggest they actually collaborate instead of acting like separate entities.

  10. Peter^

    Setting Strava activities to “Private” by default, and then changing the visibility once I have a name, description (and are sure I want to show this activity) is exactly what I also do, I agree with your recommendation.

    The crazy thing is: You cannot do this task via the Strava API (change visibility of activities), the reasoning is for security reasons (a rogue strava plugin could set all your stuff to public). This is a huge bummer, because it would make this “private by default” flow so much more user friendly if you could e.g. define a strava plugin that would change things to “public” or “followers” based on certain criterea automatically for you.
    The security argument does not hold water, as you could have it as separate permission for which the plugin would request access when you link the plugin with strava (grant authorization -> [x] May change activity visibility).

    Currently I have to work around this by pretending to be a browser and logging in via the actual users strava credential (username+password), which is a lot more insecure than the token method that the API uses. Please strava make it possible to set activity visibility via API!

  11. Olivier

    I wonder if Strava mentionned when we will be able to use the Action button on apple watch Ultra to launch Strava

  12. Gilbert

    Ray,

    Did Strava mention if they’re going to retroactively review the historical leaderboard data to remove and/or recategorize the activities or only review new leaderboard data?

    • Not sure yet. Strava had a 60-90 minute live stream about it, but for some reason they set it to private just after it started. Thus, I never got to see it.

      I sent a note over this morning asking for details. Apparently, I must be back on their shit-list again, because I didn’t get any PR stuff e-mailed, instead finding it on their PR site after was all announced (versus every other media entity getting it ahead of time, usually including me). I come and go on said list. They were upset for a while a year ago, after the pricing debacle, but thought they were happy again since last summer when I met with them, as I’d received plenty of stuff before hand since then.

  13. MatthewQC

    Color me doubtful of this new “night heatmaps” feature actually increases anyone’s safety. One, it actually tells an assailant where to find victims (just look in a residential neighborhood for one very distinct, but not hot trace … there’s your victim heading home each night). Two, the data is probably going to be skewed by things like after work pub crawls that start from a common location.

    • TriGuy

      An assailant would mean that Strava is looking at crime data which isn’t available in all places. But with night heatmaps you’ll get the ability to see where users do their ride/run/walk which should be an indication of where people feel safe because it’s likely well lit, maintained, and more heavily trafficked so there would be theoretically a greater likelihood that someone would see something nefarious.

      Are people, enough to impact a heat map, really stravaing ta pub crawl? Even still, a pub crawl is likely to be in a heavily lit area, with plenty of individuals around. Might not be a well maintained area, but you can always work on jumping over botles or passed out crawlers.

    • MatthewQC

      “Are people — enough to impact a heat map — really stravaing to a pub crawl?”

      Yes. There’s a weekly bicycle happy hour club that departs from Westlake Park in downtown Seattle at 7:30pm and takes the same few corridors to north Seattle and west Seattle to get to a list of about a dozen dive bars, for example north through Belltown and south through Pioneer Square. If you’re a local, you know that both of those neighborhoods are pretty typical downtown neighborhoods that become dangerous later in the night as the city’s indigent residents tend to congregate there. You wouldn’t want to go there for a jog at midnight as a solo woman.

      Since most of the riders use Garmin Connect for the live find friends features, and Garmin Connect syncs to Strava … there you go. The heat map presently reflects high bike traffic on 4th from the park even though the city-designated downtown bike path is on 2nd. Turn on the nighttime filter and the effect will be even more pronounced without the ferries’ offload of cycle-commuting workers who usually take 1st and 2nd to avoid hill climbs to South Lake Union. I’m sure other cities have very similar phenomena.

  14. Chris

    The irony is – other than that my friends can’t see my workout graph unless I pay for a membership – I can’t find a reason to pay for premium. Segments are all a gigantic hot mess of cycling and cars on the leaderboards anyway

    And I can screenshot my pace graph and add it to pictures so — whatever

  15. Tim

    Until Strava allows paid subscribers to filter the types of activities that appear on their feed, I will maintain my free user account. I was a paid subcriber for 8 years but grew tired of my feed cluttered with uninteresting activities.

    • Pete

      This 1000x over. FILTERS PLEASE!

      Recording all your activities is great, and it’s great seeing what you’ve done. But each person has personal preferences on what they want to see and not see. The Strava Community page has requested this for years with zero response from Strava. Sauce for Strava does an ok job, but doesn’t work in the app and not perfect on web.

  16. To be pedantic, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” — you can’t tell how good something is until you try it…

  17. Nick

    I couldn’t imagine working at Strava; hundreds of great ideas sit on their forums for years with very few of them ever getting adopted or fixed. It’s just mind boggling to me that their community do the hard part and come up with incredible ideas and Strava acts like they don’t exist. So much of it is low hanging fruit that wouldn’t take much development to implement. Hopefully this new ceo delivers and continues to go after things that matter to the community.

  18. Eugene

    It’s unbelievable how they still manage to don’t get it. It all seems promising but… Why is this Group Plan only for people within the same country? In the US that will not be an issue. But in e.g. Europe lots of people live near a border, having friends and family cross-border.

    What is the reasoning of Strava that I cannot have this group plan with my family living across the border in the Netherlands simply because I am living in Belgium? While someone in Munich can have a group plan with acquaintances in Hamburg, 800 km away since it is in the same country?

    I hope Strava rectifies this or at least explains it.

    • My guess would be because they charge different amounts per country.

      Belgium & the Netherlands’ rate is 69EUR/year, Germany is 74EUR. Whereas Sweden is equiv to 59EUR/year.

    • Eugene

      If so, this Group Plan confirms their pricing strategy is weird, or plainly wrong.

      The reality is that EU borders nowadays are such that friends groups as easily spread over the border as if the border didn’t exist. At least that’s what I see, and that is one of the reasons the EU exist.

      So if Strava wants to work with groups in the EU, they have to explain this I’d say. Because people won’t understand.

    • I agree Strava doesn’t understand the EU (notably EU price rules). Remember this: link to dcrainmaker.com

      That said, equally, I can’t think of another platform out there that has a family plan that allows people to be cross-border. Heck, I can’t even think of another plan that allows (in writing) people to be outside the same household.

    • JB

      Is that even compatible with EU single market laws?

    • Eugene

      JB, that has been covered quite a bit in a previous article/blog post: link to dcrainmaker.com

  19. fiatlux

    From their family plan FAQ: “If you’re already a subscriber, you must cancel your existing plan and wait for it to expire before joining or creating a Family Plan.”

    Since I am on a yearly (individual) plan, it means that it could take up to a year before I can create a family plan !!!

  20. Leaderboard broom

    I have quite a few KOMs, many of which have the unfortunate honour of being either along a main road or a popular tourist route or both. Result is once or twice a week I log in and have a considerable number of flags to place for people who have driven the segments (either unintentionally or, weirdly, because they want a public record of their car trip).

    This has been the case for years, as you noted. I have flagged for years. Only there came a point where I seemingly placed so many flags that a Strava employee took the step of banning me from flagging at all because I had (quote) “placed hundreds of flags”. Which I had. Only, at minimum, 90% of them could have been avoided with this leaderboard feature that they have been promising for nearly a decade.

    It took nearly half a year for my flagging “rights” to be enabled. Any time I send a support ticket I am still sent to the same support member (anxiety inducing every time). And I am made to feel like a pariah for simply flagging rides that their system should have been picking up.

    If nothing else my flags should be nice dataset for their autoflag LLM that appears to be about to be rolled out. Only to have this experience, as a premium member, has been and is utterly appalling. If not for other premium features that I use, I would have stop paying years ago. I also cannot think of another brand that would treat a subscribing member in such a way. As it is any support ticket is still left for (now) months before a response. Paying for Strava is like being stuck in a bad marriage where I’m staying together “for the kids”.

    Best part: they do not give a f**k. They see this behaviour as totally acceptable. And of course I cannot complain because the very same support staff manager that banned me triages any other support ticket submitted.

    What a company.

    • Krid

      Interesting. My experiance is that if I flag a lot of rides (which I do regulary) at some point I am also forced to stop flagging. But this is only for a day (or 24 hours, I don‘t know) or so, than it‘s working again. I‘ve flagged hundreds of E-Bike rides. I think nearly all of them could have been figured out automatically. I am doing a lot of work for Strava, because if the leaderboards would not been cleared at some time, they‘d become totally useless in the end. Your‘re welcome, Strava!

  21. Dr. Jones

    There are many “rides” I’ve flagged over the years which still remain as personal and segment bests, “rides” which bear no resemblance to anything acheiveable by bike. I don’t see the point in an “AI” finder if they can’t be arsed to act on those already found.

  22. Bill o'hara

    Why not improve the club functionality ? Saved routes for clubs? Eliminate the bugs ?improve the functionality of exported gpx files ? Ie…the things that everyone in my club wants. It’s ok for scheduling group rides and sharing the map. It’s klunky and buggy.