A Lovely Walk

May 7th, 2012

Today I decided to go out for a walk, enjoying the good weather that suddenly came out in the afternoon. I took my camera with me, but I also fired up a particular App on my iPhone: GPS Pal by Columbia.

This simple App allows you to track and record your trips: a walk, a drive, whatever. The App will record various information such as total distance, altitude, speed and will present you a nice recap screen at the end.

To obtain all those info you just need to leave the App working in the background (spoiler: it drains your battery quite quickly) while you’re going around. At any any time you can take a photo/video directly from the App and it will be geotagged inside your trip.

All your trips are organized into Journals that are synched automatically on the cloud to your personal dashboard (you obtain it after you sign up to the service).

What’s best is that all of this come for free to your iPhone, but we are still far away from a perfect App.

There are three main downsides I want to point out.

  • Battery Life: the App runs constantly in the background. I’ve started my walk with 85% of battery and after 1 hour and a half I was left with 51%. Quite a huge stress for the battery.
  • Data export: you cannot export data from the App. This means for example that you can’t use those info to geotag in a second moment pictures that are taken outside the iPhone environment. Considering that I almost always go around with my DSLR it would have been nice to be able to export GPS locations to geotag my picture.
  • Data sync: as I said all your trips are backed up on the cloud. Sometimes though, the service duplicates information, creating a bit of mess in your records. To delete those duplicates you have to go through the web app, you can’t do that from the iOS App.

The service is labeled as a Beta, so this means that things can change and I hope they will. Especially the export data feature would make this a killer App for everybody who travel and want to keep their pictures organized.

Give it a try.