Monday, 27 July 2009

GPS Tracking Application for the iPhone


Since the GPS module in the iPhone was introduce in the second generation, a lot of applications have been developed and still are.
With the new third generation the software development continues and there are a number of GPS tracking applications that are established and maintained.
There are two elements to these tracking apps. One is the application on the iPhone and the other one is some computer software or online solution to display and manipulate the data collected through the mobile device. In short, the iPhone app is only to collect the data, visualization and manipulation, mainly has to be done on the computer.
I will be discussing three applications for the iPhone. They are Trails by Felix Alamouroux, iTrail by Justin Davis and Everytrail. All of them are compatible with the TrailRunner computer software that has been discussed here earlier and the Everytrail online platform.

The first tracking application that has been reviewed here was the Everytrail application for the iPhone. It is a FREE, simple software that is connected to an online platform for visualizing and sharing tracks. Two screens are offered, one is for data information, e.g. time, speed, location, and the other one is a map view based on Google Maps. The map view shows your position with a red square and the location of photos taken on the way.
Although it is a very simple application there are a few neat feature to it. If you have a login for the Everytrail website you can upload the recorded track directly, including settings like public/private and having it published to twitter (recent feature). The app allows taking pictures, that are automatically geotagged and treated as part of the trip, the track describes. The pictures are uploaded together with the track and can be viewed online. The online track replay function will include the pictures as a slideshow along the track. There is currently no function to import tracks. You can only record and export. Everytrail also has a bike version for the iPhone. It spots larger numbers that can be read more easily on a high speed trail and works in landscape mode.


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Image by UrbanTick - Screenshot Everytrail screen, map and settings


Image by everytrail - Screenshot Everytrail Bike Computer.

Trails, developed and maintained by Felix Alamouroux is not quite free, it cost £ 2.39 in the iTunes app store. There is a light version for free, but it is limited to some 5 minutes of tracking. This software has some more functions over the Everytrail. It is possible for example to import data directly. You can access a number of track sites or specify an URL. Standard are Everytrail, Mapmyrun.com and Bikely.com. After choosing the site you can search the public tracks by keyword. The main screen shows the location map, elapsed time, distance and speed. It is possible to save and name waypoints and take pictures.
The Trails app uses Open Street Map data to visualize the location. There are two options one is road, for a simple map and the other one is Terrain and Cycle for a more detailed map. Everytime you zoom in or out on the map is reloads the data and depending on the connection this can be a bit slow. In the map view it is also possible to pull out an altitude profile as an overlay on the map
It is possible to edit the track points individually. Although this is a bit tedious with tracks of more than 400 points it is a neat option to do some rough editing.
The exporting functions are either an email, directly to the Everytrail page or to TrailRunner. The email export will be as a GPX and the export to TrailRunner can be wirelessly to the computer, both have to be connected to the same network.


Image by UrbanTick - Screenshots Track overlay on Open Street Map data.

iTrail is developed by Justin Davis and offers the same functionality as Trails. It also is a paid app and costs £ 1.79 in the iTunes app store.
There is no base map function, but it is possible to edit the track points and name them.
Export functions are: Twitter, TrailRunner, trailmapping.com, Google Docs and iTrail Desktop. The Google docs is basically a GPX text file that needs to be copied and pasted to be used. An other option is the iTrail Desktop application. Here again it is possible to send the data between the iPhone and the computer if both are connected to the same private wi-fi network.


Images by Justin Davis - Screenshots filter - standard screen, Settings, tracking, trail map.

There is no real recommendation for one of these apps. For one it is because they all do the same and work similar and are compatible with the same software. The differences are the design and the range of functionality. This is reflected in the price tag, but seems reasonable. I am quite happy with the free Everytrail app as I only wane record the track. The Trails app is impressive with its range of function and the beautiful design.

3 comments:

quba said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to

say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Margaret

http://bluetoothspeakerphone.net

BIDFATHER AUCTIONS said...

Great and fantastic blog. I am interested very much in the subject matter of your blog, it’s my first visit. I like very much your way of presentation. I am so much interested to join your network. Thanks for sharing this post. Keep blogging. iphone

Anonymous said...

Awesome blog. I found a really great iphone gps tracker here:
http://trackmefindme.com