Groundspeaks Geocaching Andriod App Part 1 - Initial Impressions
Well here goes the run with Groudspeak's app. This will be multiple parts focusing on the Android app and how it works, and what you can expect from it.
First I should point out that I use a Sprint Hero running 2.1. I have tried a number of other apps, all with their ups and downs. I did not pay money for any of them. I stuck with the free versions, or apps that were free. So the chance to jump on the app was great for me. We were told that it was coming out sometime during the week, so I would check the app store every few hours. No luck at all.
Finally the app appeared in the store. I downloaded it and it said there was 50-100 dowloads at the time. So woo hoo here I go off to the great beyond. <poof> $9.99 vanished from the checking account and a few minutes later I was downloading.
No problems on the load. Well there was one. Where I was at work had a poor download speed. Well I guess there was not hurry.. I was at work after all. Not much I could do there.
It was running nicely. I liked the splash screen, it reminded me of a place I camped a few months ago. It smoothly ran me to the screen that asked me what I wanted to do: Find geocaches, different searches, and a trackables button.
I zoomed through a number of screens, I had it search for the nearby caches and came up with a list. Skimmed through a number of caches on the screen. I clicked on one and the cache listings came up. There were many different options that appeared, I looked through them and was able to get all the information from the cache page that you see on a page. Description, hints, and other info.
Clicking Navigate took me to a screen that let me look at the map of the area... with a line to a nearby cache. The one at the destination. It was a simple Google map.
I took it out for a spin and found a cache. I was happy with how smoothly it worked. There was no delay. and I quickly noticed that on the map screen was a circle. I eventually figured out that the circle around the dot that represented me was the margin of error. It was pretty small, but there were times (inside and near buildings) that I could make it grow.
When I selected the option to actually navigate with the compass (from the menu screen) it took me right to the cache. I am getting really good accuracy. Far better than I expected, especially after I read about the iphone 3g gps issues.
Then it was a simple matter of logging the cache. There are two options. One that let me submit the cache as a field note, or just submit the log later. Either could be a good option. You may want to publish things later and write a longer note, or you may wish to do ir right then. Depending on your skill with typing logs, or wanting to make it bigger later.
Final thoughts (part one)
It worked really nicely and I was happy to get my first cache with it. I found two more that night, it worked smoothly and I did find some other little tricks that I will bring up when I continue with this. But I would recomend it.
On that note.. some users are having issues with a few models. Android phones often have a special UI over the Android operating system. My Hero runs one called HTC sense, and also has some Sprint UI built in. The Droid X has had a number of issues. So you will spend some time working around them until the next update comes up. Apparently they all have work arounds but you will want to be aware of it.