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Archive for the 'cartography' Category

Survey-Relevant Data App For Android

Application Name: Survey Demo

Description: Data overlays useful to surveyors and map users.

Publisher’s website: Surveying.org

Cost: Free demo version; Standard ($4.95) and Pro ($9.95) versions add additional features.

Version/date reviewed: v.1.0  /  5-5-11

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

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Android Market (mobile app only)
Android Market (browser)


The Surveying.Org website offers a host of useful data layers for surveyors and cartographers, but all of the layers don’t work in the standard Android browser. The suite of Survey apps (Demo, Standard and Pro) offer these same data layers in stand-alone apps. Data layers viewed in a Google Maps interface, with standard Road/Aerial/Terrain views or the MyTopo USGS topographic maps view, include:

UTM

UTM zone overlays (tap on the map for the info popup for all layers)

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State Plane Coordinate System boundaries

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Principal Meridian boundaries and locations for the Public Land Survey System

All of the above can be viewed with the free Demo version. The Standard version of Survey ($4.95) adds two more data layers, and an additional function:

  • National Geodetic Survey horizontal control benchmarks (with links to data sheets)
  • National Geodetic Survey vertical control points.
  • Measure distances and areas on the map.

The Pro version of Survey ($9.95) adds a few additional features:

  • Built-in inclinometer
  • Find the latitude/longitude for a point by tapping on it.
  • Recording of points and tracks, export in KML format.

Other issues: I guess I have a number of concerns with the app:

  • Data layers are fetched online as needed, but that means that if you’re offline, they’re not available – a big drawback
  • The GPS stays on if you switch to a different app, rather than exiting the main app; forget about this, and you can quickly drain down the battery.
  • The Standard version is a bit expensive ($4.95), but if you need that data handy, probably worth it. The current set of additional features with the Pro version doesn’t justify it’s $9.95 price, as you can duplicate the additional functionality with other apps, many of which are free. The author plans to add PLSS data and lat/long to State Plane Coordinate System coordinate conversion to a future version, which would make it more worthwhile, but still a bit expensive for what you get.

Final thoughts: All of the functionality of the Demo version can be gotten using the Surveying.org website in the standard Android browser, plus length and area measurement, but the interface is easier and faster in the app than the website. If you need a handy reference source in the field for nearby NGS benchmarks, the Standard version might be worth the high price, but if you can plan ahead, all the data is available for free at the Surveying.org website The Pro version is overpriced for what you currently get with it; until additional functionality is added, I’d pass on it for now.




Find Your "Tunnel Destination" With Dig Planet!

Application Name: Dig The Planet

Description: Shows where you’d come out on the Earth if you started digging a hole in the direction you’re pointing your phone.

Publisher’s website: Eagle Keeper Programming

Cost: Free ad-supported version; $1.36 paid ad-free version

Version/date reviewed: v. 0.2RC1 /  12-19-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

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Android market link
Android Market link (browser)


Not too long ago, I reviewed the AntipodalPoint app for Android, which locates the spot on the Earth exactly opposite your current location, or another location of your choice. The Dig The Planet app is a similar idea, but more general: point your phone down in any direction, not just straight down, and find out where you’d come out if you dug a tunnel in that direction until you came out the other side.

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Figure 1: Point your phone down in any direction, and the app shows the tilt and heading of your phone, as well as the geographical coordinates where you will emerge. If you point the phone up, the app will flip the direction around 180 degrees so that it is actually going down. The section at top is part of the “game” aspect of the app, where you score “stars” by coming out near the location of a number of world cities. Once you’re pointing in the desired location, press the “Dig Here! button …

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Figure 2: … and get the location where you’d come out if you dug a tunnel at your chosen tilt and heading angles displayed on a static map (not scrollable or zoomable; no choice of map type). If there are any Panoramio photos geotagged near the location you come out, they will show up in a slide viewer below the map

Other issues: Yeah, I’ve got a few quibbles with the app:

  • Be prepared to turn down the media volume on your phone; the app plays a really annoying background jingle in a continuous loop
  • Pointing towards the location of a city to score points is virtually impossible at the default accuracy settings. The help file implies that there’s a way to adjust that accuracy setting to be more forgiving, but damned if I could find the settings section.
  • On my Droid X, the GPS remains turned on even after you exit the app; the only way to shut it off permanently is to reboot the phone by turning it off and on, or by uninstalling the app. And having the GPS on can drain the battery very quickly. Toggling the GPS off will disable it momentarily, but it will spring back on again if you re-enable GPS.

Final thoughts: Great idea, and can be a fun learning tool and Android demo app, especially for kids. But it needs to fix the GPS “always on” problem, there needs to be a settings section to adjust the accuracy settings for the “game”, and most of all it needs an option to turn off the really annoying background music.




Android Antipodal App

Application Name: AntipodalPoint Pro

Description: Find the point on the globe exactly opposite from a specified one.

Publisher’s website: efauske

Cost: Free

Version/date reviewed: v.2.0  /  10-31-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

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Android Market link (mobile app only)
Android Market link (browser)


The “Antipodes” is the point on the Earth exactly opposite another specified point. The AntipodalPoint Pro app lets you specify a point on the globe, and find the point exactly opposite.

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Figure 1: By default, the app fires up the GPS and places an upright Android icon at your current location. You can then either scroll the map with a tap-and-drag, or use the “Antipodal Point” control on the menu, to scroll you to the antipodes of your current location …

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Figure 2: … signified by an upside-down Android icon.

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Figure 3: You can also tap anywhere on the map to set a location …

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Figure 4: … and have its antipodes location be marked automatically.

Other Issues: Leaves the GPS continuously enabled, even though there’s no control to bring you back to your current location. So if you don’t exit the app, it can drain your battery.

Final thoughts: Bit of a one-trick pony, and most land locations you select will boringly have ocean at the antipodes; not surprising, since about 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water. But it’s free, and might be fun to play with for a few minutes. Also potentially useful as an educational geography tool, especially for disproving that old myth that digging a hole in the US through the center of the earth will put you in China.