Strava is now giving away its “Beacon” feature for free, allowing people to follow runners and cyclists as they do their workouts.
The tool – aimed to help people feel safe as they exercise, though also useful for joining people in the middle of a workout – has long been part of Strava’s premium offering, but it said it would now add it to the free tier.
That is in contrast to a broader trend with the app, which has in recent times looked to push more people to pay for its subscription by putting an increasing number of features behind its paywall.
Strava said that the decision had been made to ensure that people could feel safe as they used the app. It is part of a range of updates, which have also included new ways of limiting who can see where a workout starts or ends, intended to keep people’s home, work and other locations private.
“Strava is a place for anyone who sweats and we want to help every athlete feel safe doing their sport. To better support athletes’ safety and peace of mind, we’ve decided to make our live-location sharing feature Beacon accessible to everyone in our community, whether they subscribe to Strava or not. Starting today, any athlete in the world can use Beacon for free when they record an activity with our mobile app,” said Michael Horvath, Strava’s CEO.
“When I go out for a ride, I send a Beacon to a few family members. Beacon helps me stay safe and I think it motivates them to get out and be more active as well.”
Beacon allows people to share their location with three different people, who will be able to see live updates on their journey until it comes to an end. Those can be set to be notified each time an activity is begun, or manually each time.
It is limited to the mobile version of Strava, which is used as an app on people’s phone. While Strava’s Beacon does work on other devices – such as Apple Watches, or Garmin cycling computers – that version will continue to require payment, apparently as a result of the addition complexity involved in making it work.