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Thread: Using iPhone as GPS?

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    Member BrowningLeverAction's Avatar
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    Default Using iPhone as GPS?

    I am going to try something new this year for my hunt. I have a Garmin Nav 76 that is tried and true, but I want something with topo and satellite capability. I have an iPhone 3Gs with a compass and GPS. Does anyone have a suggestion for a GPS app that has downloadable (off the grid) topo and aerial/satellite imagery?

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I have not used it off the grid but make sure you don't forget your battery charger!! The Iphone is a thirsty little bugger!!

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    Member Bsj425's Avatar
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    I dont know anything about an app but I know once you loose reception you also loose the map feature that tells you where you are and all that so It is basically useless unless you are somewhere with service

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    Member BrowningLeverAction's Avatar
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    I have seen a couple of apps that download the maps and images to your phone so they don't go away when you lose reception. I'm not sure how well they work or if they even work in Alaska, though.

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    Member EagleRiverDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrowningLeverAction View Post
    I have seen a couple of apps that download the maps and images to your phone so they don't go away when you lose reception. I'm not sure how well they work or if they even work in Alaska, though.
    Even if you kept the map, you'd have no idea where you were ON the map once you lost service. And I'd question the accuracy, at least up here, because with GPS you can have up to 15 satellites to position yourself from- how many cell towers are there out there? You need 3 to triangulate. So, theoretically, you could even have reception and still not know your position.
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EagleRiverDee View Post
    And I'd question the accuracy...
    We regularly use ours for geocaching and it claims +/- 16 feet of accuracy...and it definitely gets us there...

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    Member AkCPO's Avatar
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    I just downloaded one to my iPhone called topo maps. I plan to use it in the next two weeks on a hunting trip. I'm going to have my eTrex along also for a backup though. From the reviews it seems to be a pretty robust app and you don't need a connection (except GPS) once you've downloaded the maps of the area you're going to be in.

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Are you going to bring one of those AA battery charger thingy-ma-bobs?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bsj425 View Post
    I dont know anything about an app but I know once you loose reception you also loose the map feature that tells you where you are and all that so It is basically useless unless you are somewhere with service
    I don't think that it runs off your cellular signal. It has a GPS, right? A coworker of mine uses his iPhone and iPad out in PWS as his chartplotter. He has it in a clear dry bag with a suction cup ram attachment. No ATT&T service out there. My wifes iPhone gpses (is that a word?) all of her iPhone photos and they show up all over PWS. I bet it will work. Pretty cool tool if you can keep it charged.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spoiled one View Post
    My wifes iPhone gpses (is that a word?) all of her iPhone photos and they show up all over PWS.
    What do you mean??

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    My Iphone GPS-dependent apps work just fine when out of the service area. I use the speed app to fine tune my jet boat. The Map My Run app shows a GPS track but there's no topo background. I'd like to know what apps show a track on a topo map. There are times that could come in handy.

    Searching for service is what kills the battery. I don't know how to disable the phone without disabling the GPS, but I've never tried. Anybody?

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    The iPhone defaults to cell tower triangulation when the internal GPS can't get a lock. That seems to happen fairly often in town, so I would be interested in hearing how well it works in the field. My guess is it will be fine when not in the woods or surrounded by steep mountains, but it would be nice to hear otherwise.

    The GPS built into my Blackberry Curve is absolutely lame. No lock at all when in a car or house/building. But the Blackberry is pretty lame anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hunt_ak View Post
    What do you mean??
    Probably the geo-tagging feature. You can have that turned on, then have the pictures tagged to show up where you took them on something like Google Earth.

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Cool, thanks for the info. I'm going to have to look into that...

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    Quote Originally Posted by anchskier View Post
    Probably the geo-tagging feature. You can have that turned on, then have the pictures tagged to show up where you took them on something like Google Earth.
    Yup. That's what I was referring too.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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    Member BrowningLeverAction's Avatar
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    I will be able to keep the phone charged with my car charger and ATV battery, with my jump box as a backup. My phone has an actual GPS built in, so it should work out of the service area. I have found a few apps - one called GaiaGPS and one called Accuterra Limited. There are also others. Some of them don't seem to have Alaska maps, and I am trying to find out if they actual work well (i.e. accuracy).

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Check the power boating forum, there was a post a little while back about someone using their iPhone w/ one of the GPS apps out on the river. I am not sure what app they were using but they gave a positive review.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Pid View Post
    My Iphone GPS-dependent apps work just fine when out of the service area. I use the speed app to fine tune my jet boat. The Map My Run app shows a GPS track but there's no topo background. I'd like to know what apps show a track on a topo map. There are times that could come in handy.

    Searching for service is what kills the battery. I don't know how to disable the phone without disabling the GPS, but I've never tried. Anybody?
    When out in the field, put the iPhone into "flight mode" this switches off all transmitting radios, but allows all other functions (Ipod, GPS etc) and hugely increases battery life.

    For in-field charging, there are a number of aux chargers (look on Ebay) that take AA batteries, solar or both.

    http://www.google.com/products/catal...ed=0CCcQ8wIwAA#

    http://www.google.com/products/catal...ed=0CC0Q8wIwAg#

    http://www.thepocketsolution.com/PSI-35159.html

    As for apps, I am just getting into the iPhone GPS thing now, from looking round tut'net it seems GaiaGPS and Topo Maps are favorites and I will start playing with them this week. GaiaGPS appears to allow you to download from many map sources. What I want to make sure is that I can use standard USGS maps as I know thgese are available for AK and FREE from USGS gov website. Also I understand that Gaia GPS also allows use and supports Navigational Charts.

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    I have just started using Topo maps for iphone. Put it this way, I am going to now get a rugged case for the 3GS and stop carrying my little garmin everywhere.
    The interface is a breeze, map downloads is so simple. I have downloaded most of Kodiak (at home through wifi). GPS pick-up with no cell cover is much faster than my Garmin and the maps (standard USGS) are crystal clear. Topo Maps automatically selects the map for your location, or you can switch off GPS and browse. It also tiles/mosaics the maps as you move. ZZoom in/out is standard iPhone 2 finger in/out.
    Adding waypoints is also simple.
    Only thing I would like is the ability to save tracks (not just waypoints), this is where GaiaGPS may be better. I will have a go with Gaia next.
    Of note I am an old school GPS user, in that I always carry map and compass, the GPS is a back-up/quick locator. So battery life is not a huge concern for me, nevertheless I will now drop a AA/solar iphone charger in my pack. However the iphone will certainly last a full day/2 day hike if only used for confirmation of location.
    Of note for boaters - GaiaGPS and a few other developers have now pushed out maritime Nav apps. The reviews rate them as good as/better then some of the $1000 plus PC based marine nav systems. I will try one of these out on my next boat trip.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    A gps enabled iPad with hybrid aerial/topo/marine maps has some serious potential!! They also have glass dash software for them which is still early in design/implementation but has huge potential!! Imagine having a pocket in your dash where you drop your iPad in before take off! I can see it even having an app to allow you to intigrate your pre-flight. With some of the 3D mapping available now I can see a moving map built into it that corresponded to your current altitude and gave you a real time in cockpit rederning of the terrain as you are flying through it. Too bad 3G isn't allowed in planes yet.... I doubt that it would get the certs anytime real soon but having something like that for a VFR pilot that got boxed in sure would beat the current options.

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