Thursday, September 13, 2012

Android GPS Apps - Part 3

Mapping, tracking & export features are important for any smartphone GPS app.  Waypoint management should be easy with a quick 'create' button handy the main screen.  In Part 3 of the Android GPS app test, I spent time with Locus Pro, OruxMaps and BackCountry Navigator.
My device was the Google Nexus 7 (4.1) with a wifi connection to a 3G personal wifi device.  All applications relied on a data connection to download the maps.  I did not test the offline capability.
Read the summary of the apps and the first test.

Mapping:
All the apps offered a range of online maps which included the standards like Google, Bing and OSM.
OruxMaps has a nifty feature allowing you to quickly switch maps between an online map (like OSM) and an offline map you copied to your device.
BackCountry Navigator has a selection of US ArcGIS maps which, from the various forums I read, seems to be the preferred mapping for topographical maps in the USA.
Locus Pro had online mapping with MapQuest, OSM, ChartBundle and a few European maps.  

Tracking:
I had a bit of a rough start to testing the Locus Pro application - I had downloaded the free version which did not allow tracking. I had to purchase the Pro ($7.70) version to enable it, which, in my mind, I don't mind paying for an application but I could not get the tracking to work.  In the end, all I ended up with was a straight line between the start and finish points.  See the image export below.
BackCountry Navigator was equally unfriendly especially after the very easy OruxMaps tracking capability.
OruxMaps is a clear winner when it came to the ease of setting up a track and track management.
Locus Pro - Tracking Export
Exporting:
OruxMaps has 12 export features associated with a track.  Emailing and uploading are the two primary features with each option providing alternatives i.e Email track as GPX, KMZ or KML format.
Locus Pro had a single export feature with multiple options for GPS, KML and specific website formats like GPSies.  A neat feature of the app is the ability to export your current map view as a screen shot.  This is a neat feature as it allows you to email the track or waypoints as an image file.
BackCountry Navigator has a Share option (still in Beta) to upload to the internet or create a GPX or KML file.

Conclusion:
Locus Pro and BackCountry Navigator were overshadowed by the ease of use with the OruxMaps which meant that during the test, all I wanted to do was go back to OruxMaps and test more features.  All the apps have a Pro version ranging in cost from $2.50 to $9.99. 

The standoff...
In the next blog, I standoff between Maverick, Androzic and OruxMaps...  be sure to check back.