App for GPS-enabled backcountry/off-road navigation?

Discussion in 'Android Applications Discussions' started by jshefftz, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. jshefftz

    jshefftz New Member

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    I'm pretty sure I've tried every app related to GPS-enabled backcountry/off-road navigation (both free and $), but I still haven't found a GPS app that does all of the following:
    -- record tracklog
    -- mark waypoint based on current location
    -- ditto for entering coordinates
    -- ditto for clicking on or pointing to a map position
    -- display waypoint list
    -- navigate to waypoint
    -- UTM coordinates
    The frustrating part is that combining various apps would produce all of the above (and then some), but no single app does it all. I would certainly love to be corrected on this though!
     
  2. chayes627

    chayes627 Member

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    which apps have you tried? i use my tracks for dirt bike riding and am able to mark waypoints. Navagating to them i haven't tried yet tho.
     
  3. jshefftz

    jshefftz New Member

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    So far I've tried all of the following that are (somewhat) related to backcountry/off-road GPS navigation:

    AlpineQuest
    Backcountry Navigator
    Compass
    Earth
    Gaia GPS
    GS2GoogleEarth
    Maps
    OruxMaps
    My Tracks
    Backpacker/Trimble GPS Trails
    Rmaps
    Bearing
    GPS Compass Map
    Turbo GPS
    AccuTracking GPS Tracker
    GPS Essentials

    not yet tried:
    Topo Maps- promising, but says tracking is still pending
    GPS, by Androi mob- description sounds like very limited capabilities
    GPS, by Andrea Baccega- ditto
    GPS Test- ditto
    Just GPS- ditto
    TrailBlazer GPS - three one-star ratings & one two-star rating

    Combine the functionality of all the apps I've tried so far (and bring along an extra Seidio Innocell 3500mAh Extended Life Battery), then no need for a Garmin GPS.
    If Google had a team assigned to this, I'm sure the app would be outstanding.
    Instead "My Tracks" isn't even a real Google app, but just another of their "20%" projects, which seems to mean we should be grateful for its limited capabilities (i.e., no navigation to a waypoint), and if we don't like it, well, just head to the Market.
    Then again, that seems to be their attitude toward many of their apps.
    Check out Google Calendar and time zones:
    http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Calendar/thread?
    Reminds me of this:
    Exit, Voice, and Loyalty - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  4. jweaver321

    jweaver321 New Member

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    Give SportsTracker a try; I noticed it was not mentioned yet in this thread.

    I use it all the time for hiking, mountain biking, and even offroading.

    It provides a lot of detail about your saved routes. The free version only limits the ability to upload the tracks to the internet.
     
  5. jshefftz

    jshefftz New Member

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    As with typical GPS apps targeted more towards fitness, I don't see anything in the SportsTracker description regarding even basic navigation functions (e.g., waypoint marking, GoTo, etc.).
     
  6. jshefftz

    jshefftz New Member

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    Update: OruxMaps is showing promise, although some odd quirks so far (the lack of an automatically created data folder was throwing me off at first), and the documentation translation from the original Spanish can be a bit confusing.
     
  7. jlcorbin19803

    jlcorbin19803 New Member

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    how about the best compromise...?

    jshefftz,
    Given that you've tried so many, what would you say is your pick for the best currently available app for hiking? I've just started searching for a geolocating/orientation app. Seems like AlpineQuest dominates the search results.
    thx
     
  8. jshefftz

    jshefftz New Member

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    Depends on what matters most to you: map availability when online, map availability when offline, UTM, GoTo function, waypoint list, map-based waypoint creation ... my suggestion is to try them all out, and see which one frustrates you the least based on which missing functions matter to you the most.
    Alternatively, in a few months, I suspect that the various apps will be much improved -- or at least the various support/help websites are aware of the missing features and are sort of promising various upgrades...
     
  9. pderocco

    pderocco New Member

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    My needs are somewhat different from yours, since I'm mostly on-road. Perhaps you can tell me if any of the apps you've tried have the following characteristics:

    1) Uses offline data.
    2) Records a GPS track.
    3) Uses vector format data, so that the display can be arbitrarily rotated.
    4) Automatically recenters map.
    5) Allows recentering to be turned off, so that you can look elsewhere.

    I want a nav app that lets me drive around and explore in the mountains or desert where there's no 3G service, records where I've been, and doesn't insist that I type in a destination address so that it can give me directions. So far, I've only been able to approximate this with Google Maps and MyTracks concurrently, but only when online.

    I tried MapDroyd, by the way, and it looks like it could be promising in the long run (the very long run), since it's open-source and free, but at this point it's a toy program with no features other than the ability to display maps, manuall zoom, pan, and rotate in 45-degree steps, show roads, route numbers, bodies of water, and towns, and show an X where you are. That's it. No auto-scrolling or auto-rotating, no searching, no turn-by-turn, no track log, no layers. I'd call it alpha rev zero.
     
  10. jshefftz

    jshefftz New Member

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    I haven't taken detailed notes on exactly what features each app does and does not have, but from memory, addressing your concerns:
    1) Uses offline data.
    -- Varies widely. Some excel at offering various types of maps on-line, and others are more focused on allowing you to set them up beforehand with off-line maps.
    2) Records a GPS track.
    -- This is fairly common.
    3) Uses vector format data, so that the display can be arbitrarily rotated.
    -- Hmm, I never thought about this. I'm not sure that any app has this ability. By contrast, the usual choice is between north-up vs track-up.
    4) Automatically recenters map.
    5) Allows recentering to be turned off, so that you can look elsewhere.
    -- Toggling back & forth between these two modes is fairly common. Some taken advantage of the standard "My Location" menu choice, and others use custom interfaces for that selection.
     
  11. pderocco

    pderocco New Member

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    Several PC programs let you prepare data sets for travel in a particular area, for downloading into a smaller device, but that paradigm is from the days when the smaller devices had limited storage. Full street maps for the USA take under a gig, and topo maps take four or five, but that's chump change for devices like the Droid X, so I'm looking for something that places the full map database into the device. MapDroyd is in that category, but as I said, it's got no features beyond map viewing at this point.

    Well, if it's got track-up, and the writing isn't upside down when you're going south, then it's vector-based. For instance, the built-in Maps program uses tile-based imagery, which is why you can't turn the maps, but the Navigate program uses vector-based data, and generates the imagery on the fly, which is how it turns and tilts the imagery. I notice that the Cache folder has separate subfolders for tile and vector data.
     
  12. cwebb

    cwebb New Member

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    I understand your frustration... When I moved to the Android, I was used to the excellent PathAway4 for PalmOS, and there's nothing anywhere near as complete as that for Android, that I can find.

    But check out Backcountry Navigator again. I think all those things you've listed are part of that app now. The developer also seems to be very conscientious about improving the app. It's still not quite as intuitive as I'd like, but after I dig a bit, I usually find the function I'm looking for.

    ie: Some of the needed menu selections only show with a 'long press' on a specific display, and not with the main 'menu' button. Like, to add a waypoint, you need to long-press the spot on the map. You can then edit the coordinates if you like. Actually this is a perfect way to do it, but I kept looking in the main menu under 'Waypoints' and found nothing for adding a waypoint there.

    I like the app a lot at this point, but I still need to practice with it. My wife was not ready to wait yesterday, while I fiddled with my Android, trying to figure out how to mark a waypoint!

    As I said, I don't really have enough experience with the app to give a complete 'review' but I keep finding more handy features, as I play with it...

    HTH.
     
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