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Archive for the 'GPX' Category

Locus, A GPS Mapping Application – Part II: Maps

Continuing on with my review of the Locus GPS mapping app for Android (Part I on the interface is here), today is map day. Locus has a strong selection of standard online map sources, roughly 30 vs. roughly about 20 for OruxMaps. Some are worldwide, others regional. These mapsets currently include:

  • Google Maps: Road, Aerial, Hybrid, Terrain, Korea
  • OpenStreetMap” Classic, Cycle, Transport, Osmarender, OpenPiste
  • OVI-Nokia map:Classic, Satellite, Terrain (Locus is the only app I’ve seen so far with these useful mapsets)
  • Yahoo: Classic, Satellite
  • Bing: Road, Hybrid, London A-Z, OS Maps
  • OSM-regional: UMP-pcPL, Hike&Bike
  • Freemap (Slovakia): Car, Turistic, Cyclo, Aerial
  • Yandex (East Europe): Classic, Satellite
  • Eniro (North Europe): Classic, Aerial, Nautical, Hybrid
  • MyTopo (USA): 1:24K topographic maps
  • Outdoor Active (Germany, Austria, South Tyrol)
  • Statkaart (Norway): Topo, Raster
  • Maps+ (Switzerland): Topography, Terrain
  • NearMap (Australia): PhotoMap, StreetMap, Terrain

 

While there is a reasonable amount of overlap in mapsets between the two, each one also has unique mapsets as well. For US users, the big difference is that Locus comes with the MyTopo USGS 1:24K topographic mapset built in, while OruxMaps doesn’t. You can add Terraserver topo maps to OruxMaps (more on this in a bit), but the MyTopo set is of higher quality, and some areas are more up-to-date.

 

The list of available online maps can be brought up with the map manager button, in the upper right of the main map screen. You’ll get a list of available online mapsets:

locus_mm_0

Mapsets are organized into groups by source, a better system than OruxMaps’ sequential list of all maps. If you tap on a source name, like Google …

locusmaps_2

 

… you’ll get a subset listing of all the available maps from that source. Tap on the map type to go back to the map view, and load that selected mapset. The listing scrolls horizontally, so if you can’t see the desired mapset, tap and drag the listing left or right to access it.

First time I tried using Locus in the field, I was shocked at how many mapsets I was unable to download, despite having a good cellular connection. Then I explored the Settings section; under the Map subsection of Settings, you’ll find  a setting called “Offline mode”. If this is checked, which appears to be the default, maps can only be downloaded to your unit when you have a WiFi Internet connection. This protects you from being surprised with massive data overage charges from your cellular provider if you don’t have an unlimited data plan; my plan is unlimited, so I left this unchecked, and all mapsets now downloaded properly.

As online maps are downloaded, either from a WiFi or cellular connection, they are automatically cached so that you don’t have to repeatedly download them. I presume the size of the cache is limited, and that older maps are deleted automatically, but I wasn’t able to find out this info. For longer-term storage of mapsets, and avoiding large data downloads over cellular connections, Locus lets you create mapsets from download data, and then load them as needed into the app.

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To access this function, go to the “Download map” tab in the map manager. You’ll have several options for selecting the area you want maps for:

  • This screen – Downloads maps for the area currently visible in the main map screen. You’ll want to zoom in/out first to your desired area.

select_area

  • Select area – Choose a subset of the current map area by clicking and dragging; press on the green check button at the bottom to approve the selection, or the red x button to clear it and select a different area. You can zoom in/out in this view, but if you haven’t already selected the desired general area first, new map data will not be loaded in as you zoom in/out.
  • By state – Downloaded predefined areas. By “state”, this means “country”, not “US state” or other subregions. Fine for smaller countries at lower zoom levels, not great for larger countries.

map_points

 

  • By path – This is pretty slick. Select this option, and get the map screen, with a new toolbar near the bottom. Click the “+” sign to add a point at the center of the screen, then drag the map to the next location and add another point. Locus will define an area around that point for which it will download maps, and show that as a purple overlay. You can set the width of the area with the slider at the top, and also tap-and-drag points to adjust them. The “-“ sign removes the last point, while the red x deletes all points. When done, tap the green check box. Be sure to disable the button at the lower-right, as otherwise the map will keep popping back to your current GPS location.
  • Select POIs – If you have a set of waypoints loaded into a category (more on this in the next post), Locus can use those to define an area for maps to be downloaded for. Nice, but I wish there were a comparable option for tracks as well, similar to the “By path” option, but loadable from a GPX file.

zoom_levels

Once you’ve made any of your area selections, you’ll get a screen with the available zoom levels for that map; you need to choose at least one. You can choose more, but it will make the map filesize larger; maximum allowable filesize is 2 GB. The total map size and tile count is shown at top right, and you’ll also see a preview of the highest zoom level maps at right. Label the mapset file using the text box at the top.

change_type

Tapping “Change type” to choose the type/location for the downloaded map files. You can either put the map tiles into the standard online map cache, create a new separate mapset, or add maps to a pre-existing mapset of the same type. I usually use “Separate map”, since I think it will minimize complications, but that’s just a guess on my part. Once you’ve selected a map type, you go back to the zoom level screen; tapping OK starts the download process. This is usually best done with a WiFi connection, as that will be much faster, and won’t count against any cellular data quotas.

user_maps

 

Once complete, the new mapset will appear in a listing under the “User maps” tab; just tap on the mapset you want to select it. Generally, these maps work fine, but I sometimes noticed when scrolling the map that tiles would appear and then disappear for no discernible reason. However, when using the maps in general GPS navigation mode, this didn’t seem to be a problem.

As with OruxMaps, you can also create mapset files from online map sources with the free Mobile Atlas Creator software, setting Big Planet / RMaps SQLite as the output format; the app author has more info here.

So far, Locus is superior to OruxMaps in handling online/offline maps. But it falls short in two major areas:

– Adding new online map sources is more complicated in Locus than OruxMaps (although neither is easy). There’s a post at the Locus forum on the process, but I couldn’t find any actual working examples. In contrast, OruxMaps offers a sample wms_services.xml file to get you started, which adds Terraserver US topographic maps to the list of available maps, and the OruxMaps forum has more working examples.

– OruxMaps has a stand-alone desktop application that can convert georeferenced raster image files, like GeoTiffs and OziExplorer map files, into an OruxMaps-compatible mapset. There is no general tool like that for Locus; there’s a mention in the forum of an old utility that can convert OziExplorer map files, but the format it creates may be deprecated soon in Locus. And it doesn’t look like the utility program mapc2mapc currently creates Locus-compatible map files, either. So there isn’t currently a good way to get your own maps into a Locus-compatible format, and that’s a big drawback for me.

Coming up in part III – tracks and waypoints in Locus.




Locus, A GPS Mapping Application – Part I: Interface

Application Name: Locus Free

Description: Display online/offline maps for your position; GPS track/waypoint display and recording; compass; more.

Publisher’s website: Locus

Cost: Free ad-support version; Pro version ($5.50) removes ads, and add some minor additional functionality.

Version/date reviewed: v.0.9.28  /  3-15-11

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

locus_qr

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


I’ve reviewed two other apps that convert your Android unit into the functional equivalent of a handheld GPS unit. TrekBuddy I was less than overwhelmed with; OruxMaps I found to be terrific. I’ll spoil the surprise conclusion here, and say that Locus is not only closer to OruxMaps in quality than TrekBuddy, but gives OruxMaps a run for its money in some respects. In this multi-day review, I’ll compare Locus’s functionality to OruxMaps as appropriate. As with OruxMaps, Locus has so many features that I can’t cover them all, even over the next few days; look at the program’s website, and explore the Settings section, for more info on all of its functionality.

Interface:

locus_1

The basic interface for Locus has three toolbars at top, right, and bottom. Unlike OruxMaps, where all toolbars are fully customizable, only the right toolbar in Locus can be modified, and only by checking/unchecking pre-defined options. There are five functions available on the top toolbar. They are:

locus_4

– An “info” icon, which brings up links to “About application”, a simplified basic guide to using the app, an incomplete online manual viewed in your browser, the version history, and a list of additional apps that can invoke Locus as a helper app.

locus_6

– Title bar options: tapping on the title bar lets you choose what’s displayed there. In the picture below, coordinates was selected for display in the title bar. One drawback of Locus compared to OruxMaps is that the number of data fields displayed onscreen with the map is far more limited in Locus.

locus_5

– A GPS icon, which brings up the GPS status screen, with options to turn the GPS and compass on/off to conserve power.

locus_dm

– A data manager, which lets you view tracks/points, import/export data (GPX/KML formats supported), and manage categories. Locus requires you to specify a category label in which to save points and tracks; while I found this annoying at first, I now see the value of forcing you to organize your data by label.

locus_mm

– A map manager, for selecting and managing online/offline maps (more on this later)

 

locus_2

Access the right-toolbar options by the Android Menu button, then selecting “Set right panel”; this screen also gives you several other options, most of which can also be assigned to the right toolbar.

locus_3

The available right-toolbar functions are:

  • Search in POI: This is a saved waypoint search function; there is no general POI database in this app.
  • Move Map: Instantly move the display to an entered address or latitude/longitude.
  • Points: A waypoint list/manager (MOTL, more on this later)
  • Track record: Brings up another toolbar for recording tracks (MOTL)
  • Parking (BETA): Record your current parking spot, with options to set an alarm (useful for timed parking meters), and taking a photo of the location:

locus_park

  • Share: Lets you send the current map center coordinates, or a screenshot of the current map display, to email, Facebook, SMS, etc.
  • Add new route: Bit misnamed, as it lets you create a new track in the map display; a “route” is a sequential collection of waypoints, which Locus doesn’t seem to have support for. MOTL
  • Compass: Option to switch to compass view, which includes guide information if you’ve selected a POI/waypoint as your destination:

locus_compass

The compass has a long settling time, so it will take a few seconds for the “needle” to move to the current direction. I’d prefer the option to manually adjust this sensitivity, but it’s not too bad. What is bad is that it shows the magnetic direction, not the true direction, as OruxMaps does. I wish I could mandate that every compass app for Android  either have true direction as the only option, or have it as the default with magnetic direction as an option. For many areas, the two will be similar, but in some areas the difference is substantial; where I live, there’s an eleven-degree difference between true and magnetic directions. Hope this gets fixed in Locus in the near future. Now fixed; there’s a new Sensors menu in the Setting that lets you choose True direction (default) or magnetic, and adjust the sensitivity of the compass.

 

locus_6

The bottom toolbar has five functions. When the first button is active (as above), and the GPS is on, the map will automatically scroll to your current location. If you tap and drag the map to view a different location while this button is active, it will automatically “pop you back” to your current location in a few seconds.

locus_zl

The second button is a zoom lock/unlock button. When it’s off, you can only zoom in to the native resolution of the map image (or double that, if you turn on “Double sized resolution” in Settings => Map). When it’s engaged, as above …

locus_sz

… you can zoom in well past the native resolution; the above picture isn’t even at the full zoom available, since that would just look like a jumble of pixels.

locus_direction

The third button lets you choose a direction option. “Rotate map” will spin the map so that the direction you’re facing, or moving in, is at the top. This mode drives me nuts as it tends to swing around wildly, so I usually leave it off.

locus_fov

“Show view” displays a “field of view” indicator when you’re standing still, as above. When you’re in motion, the view changes to a triangle/arrow that points in the direction you’re currently moving. Since Locus currently uses magnetic directions, this can be a bit off from the true field of view.

This control is also useful for restoring the map to “North at top”. In the default mode, Locus supports advanced multi-touch, which lets you rotate the map view by dragging two fingers on the screen in different directions. This also drives me nuts, as sometimes when I want to only zoom in or out, I wind up rotating the map; using this control pops the map back to a normal orientation. You can turn off advanced multi-touch in the settings section, as I have.

The toolbars are partially transparent, and fairly small, so I usually leave them all turned on. However, the Settings section allows you to set any, or all, of the toolbars to fade away after a few seconds; tap twice on the screen to make them visible again.

One final topic, peripheral to the interface. Like OruxMaps, Locus has the option to use an external Bluetooth GPS receiver to obtain position, in place of the built-in GPS receiver; this can be specified in the settings section. This has some major advantages for both battery life and position accuracy. Unlike OruxMaps, though, I was actually able to get this Bluetooth connection to work in Locus, though it took some effort. Android’s Bluetooth support is a bit flaky, and it can take multiple attempts to achieve a successful connection. If the first Bluetooth connection attempt doesn’t work, and you’ll get an error message to that effect, go to the GPS status page, and turn GPS off and then on again. It may take 3-6 attempts, but eventually you do get a working connection to your Bluetooth GPS receiver. The application can also use Bluetooth GPS via proxy apps like Bluetooth GPS, which replace the built-in GPS receiver position for all apps.

Tomorrow: A look at maps in Locus.




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

llc_qr

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.

latlong

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.

loadgpx

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.

llc3

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.




GPS Trip Recording And Online/Offline Maps With Trimble Outdoors

Application Name: Trimble Outdoors

Description: GPS app for trip recording, with online/offline maps

Publisher’s website: Trimble Outdoors

Cost: $9.99

Version/date reviewed: v.4.1.8  /  12-11-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

to_qr

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


Trimble is probably best known for its professional lines of GPS and other measurement hardware. They’re also known for making really crappy software that runs them; you can often locate a Trimble user in the field by listening for curse words, as something else goes wrong with the software. Trimble Outdoors is an unusual foray into the general consumer field for them; do they do any better here?

The general idea behind the software is to create records of various kinds of outdoor activities, and upload them to the Trimble Outdoors website for storage and sharing. So you’ll need to create a free account at Trimble Outdoors to use the software at all.

to_1

Figure 1: After starting up the program, and logging in, you’ll see a list of of activities under which you can record trips. Start up hiking …

to_2

Figure 2: … and the app will fire up the GPS, load in maps for the area using the chosen mapset, and start logging your position as a track. From the list screen, you can also go to a list of previously-saved trips, and load them into the map view as well, either for viewing or for continuation of that trip.

to_3

Figure 3: Here’s a short pair of tracks, along with several waypoints. You can add waypoints, but there’s no on-screen control for that; you need to dive into the menu to find that control.

elevation

Figure 4: The Stats button gives you info about distance traveled, total time, and average speed; the Charts give you the choice of plotting either Elevation or Speed as a function of distance or time.

media

Figure 5: When you’re recording a trip, you can also capture photos, audio, or video, tagged with the location they were taken at.

When a trip is complete, you can save it on your Android unit. You can also upload it to your online Trimble Outdoors account, either for personal private storage or to share it with others:

mytrips

And you have the option of sharing this trip on either Facebook or Twitter as well.

This all sounds great … in theory. In practice, this app has some major issues:

  • Screens can be slow and non-responsive, especially the start-up list of activities
  • The choice of in-app maps is limited to Bing maps (road, aerial, hybrid, terrain) and MyTopo topo maps; no OpenStreetMap maps, or anything else. Google Map imagery is only available if you export track and waypoint data to a separate screen; it’s not integrated with the app, the way it is with other Android GPS and map apps.
  • The app can be flaky in recording data. It’s supposed to continually record a track, but on several occasions track recording spontaneously stopped.
  • The app will cache maps for offline use, but the only way to do it within the app is to pan the map to the desired area, and then pan/zoom in around to save maps to the cache directory. This is really a crappy way to handle this; other map apps let you define a geographic region, and then automatically download the tiles for that region.
  • The default size setting for the cache is only 10 MB, far too small to save any significant number of maps; you’ll need to set this larger right away.
  • You can generate map caches at the Trimble Outdoors website, but the process isn’t straightforward. You zoom/pan a Google Maps view or MyTopo map view to show your desired area, and then select the maximum zoom level you want tiles for; the web app will then generate a zip file containing these tiles. You then have to manually unzip the zip file, and then copy the files over into the cache directory  on your phone (making sure that the cache is large enough to hold these tiles). And even though you’re viewing Google Map imagery in the app, the downloaded tiles will be in the matching Bing Maps format, not Google Maps!
  • Unlike other apps, you can’t create named mapsets that you can load in at will; you have the cached maps and that’s it.
  • You can’t import GPX track or waypoint files directly; you need to import this data into your online account to create a trip containing these, then upload this trip into the app on your Android unit.
  • You can create trips online using a Trimble Outdoors web app, including tracks/waypoints/audio/video/photos. But I found this web app to be sluggish and erratic in performance. Creating tracks where I wanted them to be was virtually impossible, as the track would stop following my cursor, then jump to an unintended spot.
  • There’s no way to directly export tracks or waypoints created in the app itself; you have to upload the trip to your online account, then export the data from there as a GPX or Google Earth KML/KMZ file.
  • If you load in an earlier trip, then try to exit that trip without saving it again, you can wind up deleting the earlier trip data (as I found out to my regret, several times).
  • There’s no integrated GPS status screen or compass.
  • The app can only really be used in portrait orientation; in landscape orientation, the app’s toolbar takes up so much space that there’s very little left for the actual map.
  • Finding app functions and settings is pretty much hit-and-miss; there doesn’t seem to be any rational layout of functions.
  • And I could go on …

Other issues: While I didn’t have any issues with crashes or force-closes, you might take a look at the Comments section in the Android Market listing for this app; lots of people seem to be having problems. Now that Google is reducing the amount of time you have to uninstall a program for a full refund, from 24 hours to 15 minutes, you really won’t have a lot of time to evaluate how well it will work on your phone.

Final thoughts: For an app that’s already in version 4, and has been around since 2009, it’s still not in very good shape, especially for the price they’re asking. While the ability to create georeferenced multimedia trips sounds pretty cool, the actual program function just isn’t reliable enough to make this worthwhile. And as a GPS mapping app, it’s missing a lot of functionality. If you want MyTopo topo maps, either BackCountry Navigator or Topo Maps would be a better choice; while neither of those is perfect, they have more of the GPS functions you really need to have, are far easier to use, and offer in-app map caching and mapset management. And for a solid general GPS map app, you’d do better with OruxMaps, which has a lot more features, and is free.




Improve Android GPS Position Accuracy With GPS Averaging

Application Name: GPS Averaging

Description: Logs and averages multiple GPS positions to improve position measurement accuracy

Publisher’s website: GPS Averaging

Cost: Free

Version/date reviewed: v. 0.9  /  10-17-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

gpsav_QR

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


GPS determines position by analyzing signals from GPS satellites to figure out how far away they are. These satellites are in orbits that put them about 12,000 miles above the Earth’s surface, which can make their signal faint (and noisy) by the time they reach your Android unit. This noise can introduce some error into the calculated GPS position – the GPS receiver can have some difficulty analyzing a noisy signal. If the noise is random, you can improve accuracy a bit by averaging multiple position measurements, and that’s what the GPS Averaging app does.

gpsav_1

Figure 1: When you start up the program, it fires up the GPS; when a position is obtained, the “Start averaging” button is  enabled. Press that to start averaging …

gpsav_2

Figure 2: Display will show current position, and averaged position, along with the number of measurements. Degree-minute display only, unfortunately; wish the Babylonians had never come up with that system. When you’re done, press “Stop averaging” to stop the process.

The “shake the phone” tip might work if you’re in a wooded area with limited sky visibility, but I doubt it will help in open-sky situations

gpsav_3

Figure 3: Once completed, the average position will be displayed, and you’ll have the option of showing that position in Google Maps (Map button), creating a GPX file for that location (Export button), or sending the position to an app of your choice, like a Notepad app …

gpsav_4

Figure 4: Fortunately, the exported data gives the location in decimal degrees as well as degree-minutes. Way too many decimal places, though – it should round off to no more than the sixth decimal place, and you’ll be lucky to get five decimal places of accuracy

Keep in mind that this only helps with position inaccuracy based on a noisy GPS signal; it won’t help with other important factors like satellite geometry, ionosphere effects, etc.. See my previous posts on improving GPS accuracy for help with this. Since most built-in Android GPS receivers don’t have the WAAS system used to reduce position error, GPS Averaging will only help a little if those position errors are large. But GPS Averaging does work if you use an external Bluetooth GPS receiver, which does usually have that WAAS system capability.

Other Issues:

Trying to “Send” the data to the Springpad note-taking application didn’t work; it interpreted the exported data as a search command. But since it worked fine with every other app I tried, I’m guessing this is a Springpad issue.

Final thoughts:

You may get a bit of improved accuracy by using GPS Averaging, but it’s hard to quantify how much improvement you’ll see. It’s likely to be small, especially with a typical Android phone’s built-in GPS, since those aren’t capable of high accuracy to begin with. With an external Bluetooth GPS, it may be a bit more useful, but you still shouldn’t expect a huge improvement in accuracy. And you should keep other factors that can degrade GPS accuracy in mind.




TrekBuddy: Offline Map Viewer And GPS Tracker For Android II

Continuing yesterday’s review of TrekBuddy

By tapping in the lower-right-hand corner of TrekBuddy’s map screen, you can flip through the compass screen, the computer mode screen (CMS), and back to the map screen. The compass screen is pretty rudimentary; just a needle display (no digital bearing), and it’s magnetic directions only (Figure 1):

compass

If you’ve just installed the program, and now flip on to the CMS page, you’ll find it blank. Turns out that you have to download and install CMS themes by copying them into the TrekBuddy/ui-profiles directory, either from the CMS wiki page or the TrekBuddy forum. CMS themes are written in XML, and on the plus side it looks like you can create some very interesting themes, including scripting. On the downside, CMS theme creation isn’t for the newbie, even using GUI editors like CMS Creator and CMS Designer. What’s more, CMS themes appear to have rigid size specifications i.e. they’re written for particular screen pixel dimensions; so, you have to find or design a theme that’s close to your screen’s pixel size. Otherwise, instead of a CMS display that fills your screen (Figure 2):

cms1

You’ll get one that only partially fills it, with text so small that it can be unreadable (Figure 3):

cms2

Tracks And Waypoints:

The navigation screen (tap in the upper left corner of the map) lets you manage waypoints and tracks. Four submenus:

  • Waypoints – Waypoints need to be in the standard GPX format, copied into the TrekBuddy/wpts directory. But you can have multiple waypoints in a single GPX file, and select one of them to use for display or navigation. Once selected, you can “GoTo” it (jump to the map area where it’s located), “NavigateTo” it (though TrekBuddy’s navigation capabilities are limited), or use it in creating a route. You can a Field Note to it, useful for geocaching. On high-resolution Android screens, the waypoint text and icon can be so small as to be unfindable/unreadable; what’s more, only a waypoint that you’re navigating to will show up on-screen (Figure 4):

waypoint

  • Tracks – Similar handling to waypoints; they’ll need to be in GPX format in the tracks-gpx directory, and you can only display one track at a time. You can navigate or route along a track.  Annoyingly, all the individual track points are displayed (Figure 5):

track

  • Record Current – Lets you record your current waypoint position, with your desired name and comment; time and altitude tags are added automatically. You can add a waypoint to an existing GPX file, or put it into a new GPX file on its own. Simple and easy to use – one of TrekBuddy’s best features.
  • Add Custom – For creating a waypoint by entering coordinates; otherwise, works the same as “Record Current”.

The process of recording tracks is clumsy and inflexible. In the “Location” menu (under Settings), you only have the options of never recording tracks, asking when you start up the GPS and then tracking all the time, or always tracking as soon as the GPS is on. You can’t stop a track, then start up a new one in the running program; the only way to stop a track and start a new one is to exit the program. You have the option of saving tracks in either GPX or NMEA format; tracks are auto-named with the date/time, and stored in either the tracks-gpx or tracks-nmea directory.

Other Issues:

  • Occasional Java exception error pops up – this doesn’t seem to affect program operation, and goes away after you tap on the “OK” button.
  • One program crash under odd circumstances; program died, but GPS tracking kept on going.
  • Several times, the touch screen locked up completely; any attempts to do anything on-screen brings up a “Keyboard locked” message. Once, random button pushing got rid of the problem; the second time, I had to power-down my Android unit and turn it back on again to get rid of the problem.

Final Thoughts:

There are a number of features I really like about TrekBuddy. The waypoint recording functions are pretty good, and the Bluetooth GPS option is a killer feature, one I hope more Android apps will adopt. And it does a decent job of map display and GPS tracking. I just wish there weren’t so many oddball quirks and inaccessible features that make using it a bit of a pain, at least in Android. It is a port of an app intended for use with OSes other Android, and I guess you can’t expect everything to port over smoothly. Worth checking out, especially for Bluetooth GPS, but I’m hoping to find a better map app, and/or that the Android bugs/quirks will get fixed.