Adidas-owned GPS fitness app Runtastic is introducing a new integration with Google Play Music today, one that promises “free” access to an array of music playlists directly within the Runtastic app.
Available only on Android from today, Runtastic’s millions of users will be able to access a selection of playlists, according to a blog post, geared towards those who pound the pavements and parks. It’s worth noting here that Runtastic already links in with other music apps installed on your phone, including Google Play Music, Spotify, and media players that play your locally stored tunes. But that is more about creating shortcuts to your own music collection, so you can control songs without having to switch between apps.
What Google and Runtastic are promising now is twofold. Users can “access a wide array of free workout playlists to suit any mood or activity curated by Google Play Music,” according to Brandon Bilinski, product manager at Google Play Music, in his blog post. Later he adds: “Additionally, Google Play Music is offering all Runtastic users — both Android and iOS — a two-month free trial so that can you can create your own playlists and access Google Play’s library of more than 40 million tracks from your favorite artists to stream and enjoy ad-free.”
On the surface, the announcement sounds like all Android users will be able to access free workout playlists indefinitely, with the added bonus of being able to sign up for a free two-month promo to access the full Google Play Music feature set. According to the blog post: “After opening the Runtastic app’s music section, users will be presented with relevant workout playlists that they can play, pause and skip directly within the Runtastic app.”
But upon further inspection, there is no such free playlist option without signing up for the promo. When I hit “No Thanks” on the offer for the free 2 months, there were none of the promised playlists, just a handful of playlists relating to some of my own existing music.
Founded out of Austria in 2009, Runtastic has built a big user base in the digital fitness realm, primarily for its flagship GPS fitness tracking app, which has racked up more than 140 million downloads globally. The startup has launched a ton of hardware, too, including GPS watches and smartphone mounts for bikes, in addition to niche apps for building six-packs and improving your sleep. This is why Adidas ended up shelling out $239 million for the company last year.
Runtastic isn’t the first fitness app to enter partnerships with music-streaming apps. Last year, Runkeeper teamed up with Spotify, which delivered some fitness-focused playlists as part of the deal — and yes, a premium Spotify account was required. But the difference in that case was, it was made clear that a Premium account was required.
I can’t help but feel that some users will be confused about the messaging around this latest tie-up, including some of the subsequent media reporting on the news. The partnership is just a promotion, really, one that gives you two free months of Google Play Music as opposed to the usual 30 days. So it’s still worth it if you’re on the market for a new music-streaming service, but just don’t expect anything “free” that doesn’t involve signing up for a two-month promotion.
Last year, Google announced it was powering locally themed music stations within TripAdvisor’s Android app. So this latest move is a continuation of that, as the internet giant seeks new ways to gain mindshare in the ongoing battle against Spotify and Apple Music.