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Runkeeper gets social with new Running Groups feature

Popular Apple Watch app Runkeeper was updated on Tuesday with a new feature called Running Groups, a cross-platform social element designed to help users achieve their fitness goals.

Available in the latest version of Runkeeper, Running Groups is a set of built-in networking tools that lets users to create, join and maintain virtual running clubs. According to the development team, the idea is to push users toward specific fitness goals through group encouragement.

Once a group of up to 25 people is set up — invites can be sent out before or after a group is created — administrators select from a number of challenges like weekly or monthly distance, or number of runs per week. As the challenge progresses, group members receive notifications on goals hit, and can send motivating messages to each other through the in-app chat client.

Located in the Challenges section of the Runkeeper iOS app, Running Groups also allows for a bit of friendly competition with the inclusion of a leaderboard that aggregates and displays individual app data from the club's top-three participants.

Since Runkeeper is a cross-platform app, users on both iOS and Android can take part in the new Running Groups feature.

One of many Apple Watch-enabled run trackers, Runkeeper has consistently kept ahead of the curve by refining its unique and useful set of features. Last year, for example, the app was one of the first third-party titles to offer a native watchOS version under watchOS 2, allowing users to track workouts without being tethered to a host iPhone.

The latest version of Runkeeper is available for free from the iOS App Store.