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Strava aims to weed out leaderboard cheaters with AI

Key Takeaways

  • An AI tool in Strava will weed out data falsifiers on leaderboards.
  • Dark mode is finally coming to Strava.
  • Updates to roll out globally by year-end with dark mode arriving this summer.



AI is very quickly becoming a constant component of our daily life, working its way into just about everything. Some applications are more appreciated than others, of course. I don’t want AI art, but I am a fan of AI improving how I see my data and leveling playing fields, which is just what Strava has announced it will be doing with its new AI tools. If it works as the company says it does, it promises to be a beneficial use of AI technology.

Beyond AI features, the fitness app also announced a handful of welcome additions during its annual Camp Strava conference last week.

Related

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Everything you need to know about the community for athletes.

AI features in Strava

No platform is safe from AI

strava-1


Whether you deem it silly or not, it’s a common complaint that people cheat to get to the top of Strava’s leaderboards. There are countless social media threads dedicated to the topic, and things get heated. Things have improved substantially in the last few years thanks to the prevalence of smartwatches and running watches. Strava also added the ability for users to flag inaccurate or false times on leaderboards as well as individual athletes. Unsurprisingly, the flagging feature has been used incorrectly and maliciously, as evidenced by the brilliant cyclist Tadej Pogacar getting flagged frequently for his mind-boggling (but real) performances.

Now, Strava plans to use AI to weed out those who falsify their data to rank on Segment and Challenge leaderboards. “We’re training a machine learning model with millions of activities to flag questionable activities — so everyone can play fair and have more fun,” the company said in a post. Of course, how well this works remains to be seen. Strava didn’t provide more details than the above quote, and it won’t be out until later this year. But given the issues with the current system, we appreciate Strava coming up with a different solution.


Beyond catching cheaters, Strava also plans to use AI in a new Athlete Intelligence feature. It says it will turn your data into an “easily-digestible summary, helping you make sense of what you just accomplished — and what it means in the context of your fitness and other goals.” Anything that makes all data easier to understand and thus more practically useful is great in our book, so we’re looking forward to seeing what this looks like when it comes out.

Dark mode and Night Heatmaps

Night owls rejoice


There are plenty of features that don’t use AI in the announcement as well. One of the most appreciated additions is a dark mode. Strava’s app has been one of the few that, no matter what the hour, blinds you with a bright white app experience. The company posted an entertaining video of the CEO reading people’s wordy complaints about the lack of dark mode to announce the new long-awaited feature.

Another feature night owls will enjoy is the addition of Night Heatmaps. Heatmaps are a great way to find and plan routes based on where others are hiking, running, or cycling. Those haven’t been time-based at all, however. Now, though, you can choose to see activities that happen between sundown and sunrise, giving you a better idea of which areas are well-trafficked at night. The ability to see popular areas at night could significantly improve your safety when going somewhere new.

On top of Night Heatmaps, Strava is also adding Weekly Heatmaps, which will show activities in the last seven days. This is especially for getting an idea of current road or trail conditions.


Updated activity pages and maps

Fancy new features to improve your experience

A hand holds a phone with the Strava app displayed against a blurred grassy background.

In addition to the Athlete Intelligence feature, Strava is also redesigning activity pages. The new design will provide “a more comprehensive data and map experience when you tap into your activity.” Activity stats will be in one “unified experience,” and maps will be overhauled by adding highlights directly on the map instead of separately in the activity summary.

Finally, to boost social media shares, the company is introducing a new Flyover tool. Flyover will create an animated 3D map with dynamic workout stats, functioning much like a drone flying through the activity. You’ll eventually be able to share your Flyover on social media so you can brag about your epic adventures even more.


When will the new features be available?

We have to wait a little bit longer

A phone with the Strava app displayed sits on a gray couch.

Strava wasn’t very specific about the timing of most of the updates. Broadly speaking, it will begin rolling out most new tools in some countries later this summer and globally before the end of the year. Dark mode, specifically, will be coming this summer.

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