Smartphone apps: not ‘appy

Searching for a suitable GPS app has been the most frustrating part of preparation. I wanted something that can follow a track, record a track and capture waypoints. Preferably it should be able to do all of these things at the same time. The best I could do was two out of three.

And it has to be use Nokia maps – not Bing, Google, or whatever else. The reason is dead simple – Nokia maps can be downloaded in full, for free, for a whole country (or many countries) before the trip. No data downloads on the trip – this can be astronomically expensive, assuming that you can actually get a signal in the first place.

I would have paid for an app, no problem. In fact I wish there was a good commercial product. The few that do cost money are needlessly complicated and still lack the most basic functionality.

The two obvious things that I want to do are record a track and follow a track. I expect to see those functions on really big, bright outdoor-friendly buttons, on the home screen. Not buried in obscure menus.

I chose these app:

  • GPX Viewer – record and follow a GPX file, simultaneously if required. Uses Nokia maps – hooray! The map re-orientates to show current heading – a really obvious thing, but most apps don’t do it. I hope these guys continue development – I’d be happy to buy a license if it becomes commercial.
  • Sports Tracker – records a track in KML format, for easy upload to Google Maps. It uses Bing Maps for display but I don’t care because I only have it running in the background. I know from years of using this app that it can be flaky – it randomly jumps to a point hundreds of kilometers away, thus ruining the average speed calculation (you get a spike of 600 km/h, for example). This was a better product when Nokia first developed it and it used Nokia maps.
  • Pin Place – instantly captures a named pin, with optional notes. This can be uploaded to Google Maps.

Other apps that I tried:

  • Outdoor Navigation
  • GPS  & GPSX Logger
  • GPS Tracker & Recorder
  • Pin Loc
  • Geosense
  • GeoGPS
  • Road Tracks
  • GPS Track & Log
  • GPX Pathfinder
  • My Loc
  • Outdoor Navigation
  • Outdoor Tracker
  • A route tracker
  • GPS calculator
  • GPS GeoPin
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