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Thursday, May 14, 2009

iPhone App Review: Trails - GPS Tracker

For a while now I’ve been tempted to buy a purpose GPS navigator product to take with while I’m either travelling or general out and about to take pictures and to record where those pictures were taken. Been doing a little bit of research here and there and there are just loads of products out there, each with its own pros and cons. Price wise as well to add to that equation. They aren’t cheap that’s for sure (well at least for a good one).

Then just a few days ago I came across an iPhone app called Trails that was developed by Felix Lamouroux and after trying it out, I have to say it’s a pretty slick piece of app! All I wanted (for now) was to be able to capture where I’ve been while I have my camera with me, then later on to export this information and save it to the pictures taken.

It’s a longer process to do this but then it’s probably the cheapest option for now. It’s probably better to get a proper GPS product that connects to your camera, that way it will automatically save the location when the picture is taken. Doing it this way means that only one camera can save the locations meaning that if you have multiple cameras you’re stuffed.

Anyway back to the application itself. As you would have figured out by now, Trails is a GPS application that allows you to record, import and export tracks onto the iPhone. It’s a relatively small application weighing just 1.2MB. On trial it connected to a satellite relatively quick (within 10 seconds) and it was recording almost instantly.

While commuting from the office to home stretching just over a 30 mins journey, it managed to record up to 90 waypoints where my journey home consists of taking the underground tube, bus and some walking as well to/from the stations. The underground tube itself was not really underground. It had areas that were covered by a few tunnels but it didn’t stop the application from recording. If it can’t find a satellite to connect to or able to record within precise location it will prompt you to either adjust the precision of the waypoints to record or pause the recording until a stronger connection is found. There was a point where it recorded that I was travelling south which I wasn’t but overall managed to record my entire journey without any major issue.

Once finished you can then export a GPX file which is sent to your email address or any other email addresses, or you can send it to either EveryTrail or TrailRunner websites. You can also view your waypoints on a built-in map which is actually similar to Google Maps called OpenStreetMap.org. For the price of £1.79 I have to recommend it to everyone to try it out. There is also a free version of the great application that you can try out but obviously won’t have all the other cool features of the full application.

Once the GPX is exported there a few free tools you can use to attach the GPS locations to images taken. I’m trying out a few at the moment.

- GPicSync (http://code.google.com/p/gpicsync/)
- GeoTag (http://geotag.sourceforge.net/)
- GeoSetter (http://www.geosetter.de/en/)

I’m basically looking for one that saves the GPS locations to RAW files, in my case NEF (Nikon RAW format) files and non-destructively as well. Last thing I want is to corrupt the images taken. Anyway check them out. This is really the el’cheapo and fantastic solution!

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