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GPS via iPhone/Android apps?

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  • GPS via iPhone/Android apps?

    I've been shopping for a small GPS to take with me on the trails. I've since learned that there are GPS apps available for use on iPhone or Android phones and was wondering if anyone had tried them. I was already considering getting an Android powered phone so this could be an added bonus. I don't need a high tech GPS - mostly something that can help me to get back to the trailer Info for miles traveled as well as ability to create maps/waypoints is useful but not a necessity. Just curious if any of the available apps have these capabilities.

    Thanks for the info
    "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

    Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!

  • #2
    Forget phone apps.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!


    • #3
      I have an Android phone (Droid 2 Global) and it's awesome. Highly recommend it in general, but probably not for this particular use. You might be happier with a dedicated GPS unit with preloaded maps.

      Using GPS on your phone drains the battery pretty fast. Definitely a consideration on a device you may need for emergency calls.

      Many apps also need a data connection to function. I haven't tested my GPS without a data connection yet, but I kinda doubt it would work since it's based on Google Maps. If you're riding in remote areas with no coverage, it might not work at all.

      I will say that the GPS function on the Android is pretty awesome for general driving navigation. You can get satellite pictures and Google street views of your route as you go, plus spoken prompts for your turns, and up-to-date traffic info. The search functions are also excellent.

      But for trail riding, a dedicated GPS unit would probably be better.


      • #4
        I use an app called Runtastic on my HTC Desire Android phone when I am running and walking. It measures how far you are going and where you are going etc via GPS..
        It should work the same way from the back of a horse!


        • #5
          I use the Android and mapping software all the time. I also use various GPS devices including survey-grade, sub-centimeter accuracy units.

          I agree with the statements above that the GPS function drains the phones very quickly (I carry an extra battery when I ride). I've used them in the car and actually had them drain the battery faster than it can charge, so ultimately the phone shuts down mid-trip.

          If you use apps like Google Earth, they require internet or system access to get maps, map a location, etc. There are also apps like "Compass" that will provide you with a Lat/Long or UTM and heading.

          There are programs (e.g., Gaia GPS) that allow you to download static maps that can be used when you are out of a service area.

          I find that accuracy with the units is decent, about 50 feet in many cases. This, for me, is normally adequate to get me home, to the truck, etc. If I was trying to locate something on the ground, it would not suffice, but for quick and dirty mapping, its great.

          I ride alone a lot and there is an app I highly recommend called "Where is my Droid." This app allows you to send a text to the Droid from another phone. If you send "Where is my Droid?" the Droid turns on and the alarm/ringer goes off. I use this for my SO to tell me she is looking for me and needs a call. If you send "GPS my Droid" the droid wakes up, turns on GPS and sends a text back to the original text number with GPS coordinates. My SO uses this if she is worried where I am. She will GPS my droid, and enter the coordinates into a mapping program. Then she can see where I am. Of course, this only works when I am in a service area.

          Normal caveats apply to GPS units, and especially to phone units: canopy cover messes with signals, heavy clouds can mess with signals. Units tend to have worst coverage when you need them most, so I've had units with 5 foot accuracy that are reading at 100' accuracy in tight canyons when I need to find the trail. Gaia GPS and other non-service area mapping programs use USGS base maps (normally 7.5 minute maps) that have on-the-ground errors of about 75 feet. USGS maps lag behind current development by several years.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for all of the info! This is a huge help. Sounds like if I get the Android phone, I just need to test out the apps to see how they behave before I trust them out in unfamiliar locations. Most of the places I ride are not far from civilization so phone service is usually not an issue for me. I'd hate to completely burn down my battery though in case I needed it in an emergency. A lot of the places I ride are wooded so canopy cover would be something to contend with. No one wants to get lost in the trees when all of the trees look the same - pines!

            LexinVA - Do you have one of the garmins you linked to? I've actually been looking at those as one of my options. Likes/dislikes?
            "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

            Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!


            • #7
              Originally posted by SkipHiLad4me View Post
              LexinVA - Do you have one of the garmins you linked to? I've actually been looking at those as one of my options. Likes/dislikes?
              I own nothing but Garmin GPS units though I don't own any of the basic models like the one I linked to so you will have to look on the GPS review sites for an opinion or two. When it comes to outdoor GPS, you really only have two choices: Garmin and Magellan. Garmin has better product design and features (IMO and I think you will find that many will agree with that statement) though Magellan's products are relatively comparable as far as basic functionality and typical features are concerned because they have been a market player for about as long as Garmin has. Magellan hasn't really moved along much over the past decade and has not really deviated from basic designs much whereas Garmin has been trying new things and exploring new markets.
              Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!


              • #8
                I second the "where's my droid app" for the reasons in the above post!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by LMH View Post
                  I second the "where's my droid app" for the reasons in the above post!
                  Third it! I lost my phone once and found it again thanks to that app. Priceless! And it's free!


                  • #10
                    I've been happy with the Endomondo app on my Droid X for conditioning & trail riding.


                    • Original Poster

                      Ok note to self - get the "Where's my Droid" app!!
                      "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

                      Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!


                      • #12
                        I use the Gaia app on my iPhone and have no problem with battery life. I went with the app so I wouldn't have to carry another device -- I always have my cell phone anyway.


                        • #13
                          Just loaded the "where is my droid" app.

                          What other apps are must haves for the Droid?


                          • #14
                            The nice thing about the Droid is that most of the apps are free.

                            Essential Apps:

                            Juice Defender - helps save battery life.
                            Dolphin Browser - way better than the stock internet browser.
                            Zedge - thousands of free ringtones.
                            The Weather Channel - more accurate weather app with a great widget.
                            Silent Toggle Widget - Simple widget that toggles your phone between Silent, Vibrate, and Ringer On with one tap.

                            Nonessential but neat:

                            Talk To Me Classic - free translator app. You speak into it in one language and it translates and speaks back in your chosen language.
                            Mighty Grocery Shopper - handy shopping list app.
                            Pandora - streaming radio.
                            Amazon Kindle - free, fully functional e-reader.
                            Tesla LED - use your Droid's camera flash as a super bright flashlight.


                            • #15
                              phonezoo.com has loads of free ringtones. Pick one you like and it will text to your phone