Monday, 30 March 2009
GPS tracking - a mini review
At the risk of this beginning to look like one of those other, dime a dozen blogs here are my thoughts on personal GPS tracking software. It's become a recent interest of mine. While travelling and exploring the city, I would love a record of my movements, for personal use of course.
My requirements didn't seem too grand, but are seemingly difficult to deliver. What I wanted was:
* Software that could run on my Nokia N82.
* The ability to track the movement live via the data connection.
* The ability to store the location information to be sent later, when no data connection is available.
* Integration with fully functioning googlemaps, I want to be able to share my "tracks" etc on my social networks or save to My Maps.
Doesn't seem that complicated. I have tried out four solutions:
* 3D tracking
* Sports Tracker
Simply put, they are all disappointing. findonamap.com worked, straight away, but the phone application is very limited, no ability to store co-ordinates and it isn't always clear what it's doing. Any problems with the data connection or the satellites are difficult to diagnose and at times going out of range the application would simply stop working, leaving your track half completed. Their website is limited and although it does plot on googlemaps, you can't do anything with the plotted paths, no ability to share or export. Pretty useless in my opinion.
3D tracking was my favourite. It almost did everything I needed, but again the route is plotted on Google Maps but with limited ability to do anything with them. However, it does allow you create a path to be used on Google Earth so I guess that could be shared. The phone software was simple to use and clearer than findonamap.com, particularly when diagnosing problems. The website only works with Internet Explorer, strangely.
GPSed had promise, the phone application looks sophisticated and the website comprehensive, complete with an online community sharing their “tracks’. Problem is, I couldn’t get it to work on the phone and with no information about what was wrong, it was impossible to fix. I’ll keep trying with this product but to be honest after two days of trying every possible setting (phone and software) I think it might have problems
Sports Tracker is well written and slick, as you would expect a product from Nokia to be, but it’s clearly aimed at runners, joggers and walkers so the feature set is aimed at those specific functions and could not fulfil my requirements.
For now, I am going to stick with 3D Tracking. All in all I think the community has a long way to go to produce a product that works well, is professional and comprehensive in its feature set. If you know of any other products I should try, give me a shout.