A while ago I was contacted by Dhruv Chopra to check out a new GPS tracking iOS app that he had in development. Initially, he had built a web app but it has now evolved into a full blown app for iOS devices.
Firstly, I’ll cover the web app. This is great as you can use this for free from an iPhone and it has been written in such a way that it will keep your device from going to sleep. This does mean it will chew through more of your battery as the screen will be on all the time on top of the GPS and cellular data so you might want to use a car charger to keep the iPhone battery topped up. Otherwise, if you are going out on foot or another mode of transport that doesn’t afford recharging you might want to completely recharge your device before heading out or take an external charger if practical.
However, there are a few things to bear in mind if you’re going to use the web app:
- Going through areas of patchy or non-existent cellular coverage may cause a loss of data capture if the connection is broken,
- Background tracking is not available when using the web app (so if a phone call comes in that can interrupt tracking as can switching to another app),
- Timestamps are listed in GMT.
However, given that the web app is free then you might be willing to accept these technical limitations (which are as a result of using Safari rather than a self-imposed limitation). That said, if these things are a deal breaker then you might prefer the native app available from the iTunes store.
It’s a fairly simple app. All you have to do is once you have logged in you just need to hit the “start tracking” button to kick off tracking a route. Terminating the tracking function is just as simple by tapping on “stop tracking”. You can then go online and view your routes at the Raah website after logging in.
For the privacy conscious out there you should know that tracking cannot be enabled remotely and it can only be initiated from the device. Depending upon your requirements this may or may not be what you’re after (such as keeping tabs on where your kids are or perhaps checking if they stick to the speed limit when driving).
Both the web and native apps capture data points once every ten seconds which may provide sufficient tracking resolution for most people. This setting isn’t currently configurable so if you require more frequent coordinate tracking (which can be useful if you are travelling at higher speeds for example) you might need to find an alternative solution. That said, ten seconds should be sufficient for most people but you may find that viewing routes overlayed on Google Maps may see deviations from windy roads as a result (such as the sample below).
Obviously, the more often you can capture GPS coordinates the smoother the line will become.
One other thing to mention is price – the native iOS app costs AU$0.99 but check your country specific App Store for the price applicable to your region. it’s not going to break the bank and it rewards Dhruv for his work on the app.