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Archive for the 'coordinates' Category

Location Coordinates (Plus Reverse Geocoding?) With GeoPicker

Application Name: GeoPicker

Description: Gives you latitude/longitude coordinates for a selected point, plus supposedly reverse geocoding (address from coordinates/position).

Publisher’s website: Android Life

Cost: Free

Version/date reviewed: v.1.2  /  6-25-11

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.3

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


GeoPicker is a simple, easy-to-use geographic utility for determine latitude/longitude coordinates for a location. It also may have a killer feature for most of you: reverse geocoding for a point (address from coordinate position). But more on this in a bit …

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App fires up the GPS automatically, but defaults to a position in the middle of the US.

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Select “My Location” from the menu to go to your current GPS location. Tapping on the coordinate display toggles between degrees-minutes-seconds (boo) and decimal degrees (yay). As in standard Google Maps, pinch to zoom, or tap on the map and use the +/- zoom controls; touch and drag to scroll.

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As you scroll, a red “X” appears under the final pin location. Stop scrolling and …

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… the pin drops into location.

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From the app Menu, you can copy the current coordinates into your phone’s clipboard, for pasting into another app. Other options include getting driving directions from your current position to the selected point, toggling between Google Maps/Satellite views, and searching for landmarks and addresses.

The app also has an option for telling you what the nearest address to the current pin location is (reverse geocoding), but unfortunately this caused my Droid X to force-close the app every time. From the App Market comments, this appears to be a common problem with Motorola Droid phones; other phones may not have this issue. You can do something similar in Google Maps, albeit with less precision – a long press on a location in Google Maps will bring up the closest address to the selected location as a pop-up balloon. Tapping on that popup balloon will take you to a page with additional options like directions, Street View, and local search. However, there’s no crosshair for positioning in Google Maps, so you have to zoom in very close to be able to place your finger in the right spot.

Final thoughts: Handy utility for picking up arbitrary position coordinates, especially if you need to copy/paste them into another app. If the reverse geocoding works for you, that’s an added bonus.




Simultaneous Large Compass View and Map With Urban Scout

Application Name: Urban Scout

Description: Displays large compass view along with Google Maps display

Publisher’s website: Cogi Systems

Cost: Free

Version/date reviewed: v.1.9  /  3-25-11

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

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


Lots of apps have a large compass display, invariably filling the whole screen (like the excellent Compass app). Other apps can show your general compass direction, sometimes with a small position arrow pointing the same way as your phone (e.g. the standard Google Maps app). Urban Scout is a simple app that combines the two: half the screen shows a large, standard compass (with numerical heading display), while the other half shows a Google Maps view.

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You have the choice of either a Google Map satellite hybrid view (with roads labeled), or the standard Google Maps roads-only display. The compass at the top shows true north, not magnetic; wish all app makers defaulted to that. Your phone’s GPS will fire up automatically, locating you on the map. The red triangle position marker will be pointed in the same direction your phone is facing, with the faint yellow circle overlay showing the uncertainty in position.

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From the menu, you can mark a single position with a blue dot; mark a new position, and the previous marked position disappears. No other functions, like navigation, but it will remember the marked position. You can scroll the map to a different location, but it will slowly scroll back center your current position in the map display. Standard zoom controls (pinch to zoom where supported, otherwise +/- buttons that appear when you tap on the map.

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Not a lot in terms of options from Menu/Settings. Toggle between the Satellite Hybrid and Maps mode, and set the default; mark your location; set units (English or metric); turn off the coordinate display bar in between the compass and map to show more of the map (as above).

Other issues: Wish it showed decimal degrees for latitude/longitude; I hate degrees/minutes/seconds.

Final thoughts: Simple limited app, but does the job. I like using it to get a rough feeling for which direction from my current location a landmark lies. One could always wish for additional functions (waypoint marking, navigation), but you can always get those from other apps.




Coordinate Conversion And Waypoint Distances With Lat Long Calc

Application Name: Lat Long Calc

Description: Converts decimal latitude/longitude to UTM/DM/DMS; calculates distances and headings between points.

Publisher’s website: Cruthu Services

Cost: Free; $1 Pro version adds more features.

Version/date reviewed: v.1.52  /  12-19-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

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


Lat Long Calc can convert a decimal latitude/longitude position into degrees/minutes, degrees/minutes/seconds, or UTM coordinates. Enter a second position, and it can calculate the distance and heading towards that position.

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Figure 1: You can type in coordinates to either the top or bottom position, with the top (A) being the starting point and bottom (B) being the destination. If you enable GPS with the bottom checkbox, you also have the option of copying your current GPS position into A.

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Figure 2: If you have a GPX file with waypoints online, you can upload them into the program’s database by accessing the DB Manager from the main menu. Once loaded in, you can edit the coordinates of an individual waypoint, or delete it. Unfortunately, you can’t change the name, or manually add a waypoint, which is a major drawback.

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Figure 3: Once waypoints are in the database, you can load them into either the origin (A) or destination (B) using the Get from DB button in the main screen.

Other issues: Distance units are in miles only; no option to change that to metric units. And if you turn the GPS on with the checkbox, be sure to turn it off, or exit the program with the official Exit command from the menu; using the back button to get out of the program screen will leave the GPS on, draining the batter.

Final thoughts: Nice conversion function, importing GPX files online is useful, and the distance/bearing info can come in handy. It really needs the ability to add waypoints to the database on the fly, and metric units would be useful as well.




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.




Convert UTM / Lat-Long Coordinates With CoordTransform

Application Name: CoordTransform

Description: Convert UTM coordinates to latitude/longitude or reverse.

Publisher’s website: None

Cost: Free (ad-supported)

Version/date reviewed: v.1.2  /  11-8-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

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


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Figure 1: CoordTransform converts coordinates from latitude/longitude to Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) or vice-versa. Just enter the coordinates in the appropriate boxes and press the appropriate button. When converting from UTM to lat/long, make sure you include the UTM zone and hemisphere for those coordinates.

The program supports 58 ellipsoids for the datum, but unfortunately can’t convert from one datum to another; hopefully, this will be added in a future version.

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Figure 2: Program will supposedly accept input in both decimal and sexagesimal (degree-minute-second) format. In the latter, it will be converted automatically to decimal, handy just for that purpose.

Other issues: One fairly substantial bug – it won’t accept or calculate negative values in sexagesimal mode correctly. Author has been informed by comment, and this should be easy to fix.

Final thoughts: If you’re dealing with decimal degrees only, or sexagesimal in the northern half of the Eastern Hemisphere, it’s a useful app as-is. Otherwise, you’ll need to wait for a bug fix.