Top 5 Outdoor iPhone Applications

We reckon this blog post might get a few hackles up, there has been some intense debate in the office on this subject and there still isn’t agreement on all of them! We wanted to see what apps we were all using when heading out and about, so without further ado, let’s get straight in to our Top 5 Outdoors Apps in reverse order.

5) Google Earth – FREE Has been around for a while, and it’s always been a fantastic jaw dropper to show just what that Interwebby thing can do. We love it though for the simple fact that it’s no good at route planning or tracking, but does enable us to just fly amongst the hills, dream and plan our next jaunt out and about while flying like a bird.

Go Sky Watch Planeterium4)  Go Sky Watch Planetarium – £2.49 Our favourite toy when we are wild camping and looking at the night sky. We really like the fact that you don’t have to touch the screen to navigate the sky and the display automatically shows correctly whatever angle you hold it at. You can ask it to point out Stars and Planets easily, and you have a groovy red version that keeps your night vision, or enables you to pretend you are on a Romulan battlecruiser.

Grid Point GB3)  Gridpoint GB – FREE Feels like a bit of a Ronseal advert this one but it does do exactly what it says on the tin. It simply gives you your ordnance survey grid reference for where you are. Pretty handy in a white out or if you are lost. Only useful if you have a map with you, we nonethless think it’s pretty darn handy if you do get in the schtuck and want your phone as a backup to let you know where you are.

Gorilla Cam2) Gorillacam – FREE Taking photos when you are out and about in the hills is part of the outdoors experience for a lot of us and helps preserve the memories. The best camera as a photographer will often tell you, is the one you have with you, so although I have a nice compact, my iPhone is nearly always with me and has probably recorded more journeys. Gorillacam tweaks the functionality of the default camera to add loads of useful features from an anti-shake facility, rapid fire shooting mode, autosave, grid overlay, bubble level, press anywhere to shoot & time lapse mode. Pretty handy and has now replaced the standard camera application for me on the homepage.

Viewranger1) Viewranger – £1.99 – £14.99  Our numero uno by some distance. There are a fair few GPS and navigation apps out there now, including classics such as Memory Map, but the one that stood tall in our eyes was Viewranger. Many people now have smartphones, so rather than lashing out on a brand new GPS, why not make use of the power that you have in your pocket? We have already reviewd it back in May and it has without fail been our most used outdoor application. There are two main choices, a £1.99 open maps version or a £14.99 version with credits to download Ordnance Survey or other local maps. Living in the middle of nowhere we love the ability to buy and download a map instantly, plus the maps work without having any signal. They also have a buddy beacon which enables you to track your friends, and link up to either their own service or Social Hiking to show your route real time and share your journey with others. From our point of view it also adds a safety element ensuring you have two maps with you when you head out.

 

So there we have our top 5 outdoor iPhone apps. Highly subjective and not without some heated debate in the office! We would have included Andriod aps as well but it looks like our office is filled with iPhones only (plus an Experian and one Blackberry) so forgive us for not including them this time around. What are your favourite outdoor apps and why? If you are an Android user, are there any other apps you have on the dark side we don’t have access to?

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Unlock the power of your phone outdoors.

Somewhere in your pocket is something that may well revolutionise your time out on the hill. It’s your phone. We’re taking a look today at Viewranger, an application for a lot of smartphones that we just wanted to rave about, as it has seriously increased the amount of fun we have outdoors. And that’s not a bad thing in our book.

Viewranger is an application you can download for the iPhone, Symbian and Android smartphone operating systems, that turns your phone in to a pretty darn cool GPS. As a result, you don’t have to shell out a fortune on a dedicated GPS itself. It already has a load of web maps on it, and you can download more detailed maps such as Ordnance Survey ones directly down to your phone. You don’t need to have any signal for it to work, and you can also download some pretty cool routes direct from people such as our friends at Walkhighlands & Trail.

Now talking about GPS’s for some outdoor folk will have them coughing and spluttering that nothing replaces a map or compass, and that red socks are compulsory when out walking. For the record, we would agree with the map and compass bit if you are heading up in to the hills. The red socks is a matter of choice though – unless you belong to the Ramblers :-) We think Viewranger is great for working alongside your map and compass, or on it’s own in non-critical situations. Now Viewranger can do lots of pretty cool things, so today isn’t about giving you a full lowdown – you can visit their homepage for that. We are simply going to tell you what makes it rock for us.

Viewranger on the go.

First up spare maps. Not sure about you, but I rarely have an occasion where we have a back up map with us, so Viewranger is rather handy as a spare. It has also got to be useful in some hairy situations. Imagine this, you’re in a whiteout somewhere on a Scottish hill, lost your way and no idea which way to go. Not sure about you, but I would be turning my phone on, seeing exactly where I am and working out where my emergency route off the hill is (haven’t already though of an escape route when planning your day? Tsk tsk!).

One natty feature that a GPS won’t have is the buddy beacon. Get your friends buddy beacon details and give them yours, you’ll be able to see exactly where they are on the hill in real time, and ensure that meeting for lunch on top of Ben Macdui goes swimmingly. Along the same lines, do you have a dog with a Retrieva collar? Similar to the buddy beacon, you can now see where Fido is wandering if he’s dashed off chasing rabbits! As we also discover living in the middle of deepest darkest Dorsetshire, we can’t always get to a shop that sells maps, or the shops are closed. If we want to explore a local area on a whim, Viewranger has stepped in to the breach on quite a few occasions, letting us download the map and go. Obviously you shouldn’t just have Viewranger for high level mountain routes, but if you just want to get a map for a wander in the local countryside, we think it’s fab.

Add in the ability to plan routes, download tracks, locate points of interest and all the other things you can do with a GPS, and you have a seriously handy piece of kit. Now obviously there are some things you need to be aware of, battery life on a lot of phones is poor, they can get wet, and they can break, but used alongside more traditional navigation, we reckon it’s a bloomin’ useful addition to our outdoor kit. Just don’t forget the red socks.

So what do you reckon folks? Do you have a GPS or Viewranger, and does it help you enjoy your time outside more? Post up your experiences in the comments below!

 

Keep an eye out soon for our interview with Phil Sorrell. He’s the developer behind Social Hiking which links up to the buddy beacon to share routes live, including your tweets, photos and more.

 

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