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Plutoberth

Why do you still use external GPS devices?

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Anyway, point being, sat imagery isn't always accurately reliable, but it does have its place especially where the GPS signal itself (regardless of device) has problems.

 

Then there is the guidelines:

 

"You must visit the cache location and obtain the coordinates with a GPS device. GPS usage is an integral and essential element of both hiding and seeking caches and must be demonstrated for all cache submissions."

 

Because satellite imagery isn't always reliable, I think it makes sense to exclude it as a means for obtaining the coordinates.

 

Take a look at the satellite imagery in Beijing, China and you'll find that the imagery and street map layer is skewed by several hundred feet.

 

Maybe some day the satellite imagery will be globally accurate, but until then it doesn't make sense to have the guidelines say:

 

"You may obtain coordinates with a GPS device or using satellite imagery, unless you live in China".

Oh for sure. Though this is one of those things that GS can't really "enforce" - someone could use sat imagery and click somewhere to get coords, then say they used a GPS device. Who would know? They could just blame the device accuracy if it ends up being off.

Practically speaking, it's always completely the CO's responsibility to ensure as accurate coordinates as possible. The proper method is to use a GPS device. Under the table, as it were, satellite imagery can have practically helpful in determining coordinates/location; and when it comes to that urban context as above, if no GPS device can obtain accurate coordinates because of unavoidable signal bounce - the sat imagery may actually be the best means for publishing the most accurate gps location. Plus, it's more likely that imagery will be properly aligned in city cores (but I have no evidence of that, just personal local experience, as I have not been to Beijing or China =)

 

So, yes - coordinates must be obtained by GPS device. That is always the first source. If that fails (which for the most part shouldn't happen) then... either don't put a cache there, or if you are allowed to then you could in theory judge how good the sat imagery is in order to determine a location you judge to be more accurate than your questionable GPS reading. And, presuming you are aiming for the most accurate coordinates possible as is your responsibility, then you should tell if the imagery is worse than the bad GPS signal, and avoid it; otherwise, ideally, mention in the listing that GPS signal is bad at gz, and indicate that the coordinates were obtained by a sat imagery source.

 

If the reviewer allows it, the reviewer allows it. :anicute:

Edited by thebruce0

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Sometimes I use my cell phone, sometimes I use my GPS (etrek 10 but I am looking at upgrading), and sometimes I use both. My cell phone will not work everywhere so that is one reason I have a GPS.

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"Why do you still use external GPS devices?"

 

I have a smart phone but I prefer to use my Garmin etrex 20 as it works well enough for me.

 

One doesn't have to be better than the other.

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read the responses in this thread, and you'll realize that a LOT of people are just plain wrong:

a) it won't work without cellular data

B) it won't work in deep woods

c) it won't work offline

d) it's not accurate enough

e) it will eat up your datas !

f) but my neighbor said it CANT work !

 

a- the cellular and gps antennas are not entertwined, or dependant upon each other. either will work just fine without the other.

b- i keep trying to find woods deep enough to make this true, i hike and ride thousands of miles each year, and have only found train tunnels and caves to support this.

c- just plain wrong, see a-

d- anyone that takes the time to enable their gps antenna (instead of wifi + cellular) and goes out to test it's accuracy vs a standalone will be surprised. if they don't try it, they'll keep repeating the same mistakes, much like the responses in this thread.

e- JUST LIKE STANDALONES, you should download a map to a device before heading into an area. open street maps has the entire world, for free.

f- that's not all he's said that was wrong

 

go out, test for yourself. it's eye opening.

It's pretty clear from your posts in various topics that you think smartphones are just as good as GPSr's for caching, but I think it's worth noting that you have cached in only 1 US state. I don't mean this as an insult or anything, but just pointing out that your experiences in the middle 5 counties of AL may differ considerably from the experiences of cachers in other countries, states, or even parts of AL. Sometimes, a GPSr really can perform better than a smartphone.

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read the responses in this thread, and you'll realize that a LOT of people are just plain wrong:

a) it won't work without cellular data

B) it won't work in deep woods

c) it won't work offline

d) it's not accurate enough

e) it will eat up your datas !

f) but my neighbor said it CANT work !

 

a- the cellular and gps antennas are not entertwined, or dependant upon each other. either will work just fine without the other.

b- i keep trying to find woods deep enough to make this true, i hike and ride thousands of miles each year, and have only found train tunnels and caves to support this.

c- just plain wrong, see a-

d- anyone that takes the time to enable their gps antenna (instead of wifi + cellular) and goes out to test it's accuracy vs a standalone will be surprised. if they don't try it, they'll keep repeating the same mistakes, much like the responses in this thread.

e- JUST LIKE STANDALONES, you should download a map to a device before heading into an area. open street maps has the entire world, for free.

f- that's not all he's said that was wrong

 

go out, test for yourself. it's eye opening.

It's pretty clear from your posts in various topics that you think smartphones are just as good as GPSr's for caching, but I think it's worth noting that you have cached in only 1 US state. I don't mean this as an insult or anything, but just pointing out that your experiences in the middle 5 counties of AL may differ considerably from the experiences of cachers in other countries, states, or even parts of AL. Sometimes, a GPSr really can perform better than a smartphone.

 

no offense taken. :)

 

i'm all ears.... tell me where or how the location matters to triangulation ? maybe you were referring to something else other than triangulation ?

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read the responses in this thread, and you'll realize that a LOT of people are just plain wrong:

a) it won't work without cellular data

B) it won't work in deep woods

c) it won't work offline

d) it's not accurate enough

e) it will eat up your datas !

f) but my neighbor said it CANT work !

 

a- the cellular and gps antennas are not entertwined, or dependant upon each other. either will work just fine without the other.

b- i keep trying to find woods deep enough to make this true, i hike and ride thousands of miles each year, and have only found train tunnels and caves to support this.

c- just plain wrong, see a-

d- anyone that takes the time to enable their gps antenna (instead of wifi + cellular) and goes out to test it's accuracy vs a standalone will be surprised. if they don't try it, they'll keep repeating the same mistakes, much like the responses in this thread.

e- JUST LIKE STANDALONES, you should download a map to a device before heading into an area. open street maps has the entire world, for free.

f- that's not all he's said that was wrong

 

go out, test for yourself. it's eye opening.

It's pretty clear from your posts in various topics that you think smartphones are just as good as GPSr's for caching, but I think it's worth noting that you have cached in only 1 US state. I don't mean this as an insult or anything, but just pointing out that your experiences in the middle 5 counties of AL may differ considerably from the experiences of cachers in other countries, states, or even parts of AL. Sometimes, a GPSr really can perform better than a smartphone.

 

no offense taken. :)

 

i'm all ears.... tell me where or how the location matters to triangulation ? maybe you were referring to something else other than triangulation ?

 

If you're talking about cell tower triangulation, the accuracy depends on the density of cell towers in your current location. Look at a coverage map from your cellular providers and that'll show you locations where cell tower triangulation won't work. I only have to drive about 6 miles from where I live to get to an area where I lose cell phone reception. I own a couple of a caches where one will not have cell reception at all. You aren't trying to tell us that cell tower triangulation improves the accuracy of determining ones location, are you?

 

I think that what noncentric is getting at is that if you're going to make claims about a GPS vs. Smartphone based on experience, having experience in many different locations will provide more credibility. As you mentioned, I *do* travel quite a bit and have geocached in 23 countries. In quite a few of them, most notably in Africa and Cuba the telecommunications infrastructure is quite different than it is in the U.S.

 

 

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I use my handheld gpsr (Oregon 600) when kayaking, to put on a bike mount, or if I am hiking in rainy weather. Once in a while I'll take it out in other situations, but even then I generally default to the iPhone for caching.

 

I have found caches in narrow canyons, forests, and hills - a long way from cell phone reception. I can think of several locations with limited satellite reception where the phone got me closer to the cache than the gpsr - but generally when I compare the two there is not much difference. I prefer the phone for earthcaches, letterboxes, or any other situation where graphics and the description are important. I also use the phone to manage the caches I might want to find, maintain offline databases, voice routing and mapping, and to transfer the cache information (gpx file) to the gpsr if need be. But there are times when it's easier to strap the gpsr on the console of my kayak and keep the phone in a dry bag.

Edited by geodarts

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read the responses in this thread, and you'll realize that a LOT of people are just plain wrong:

a) it won't work without cellular data

B) it won't work in deep woods

c) it won't work offline

d) it's not accurate enough

e) it will eat up your datas !

f) but my neighbor said it CANT work !

 

a- the cellular and gps antennas are not entertwined, or dependant upon each other. either will work just fine without the other.

b- i keep trying to find woods deep enough to make this true, i hike and ride thousands of miles each year, and have only found train tunnels and caves to support this.

c- just plain wrong, see a-

d- anyone that takes the time to enable their gps antenna (instead of wifi + cellular) and goes out to test it's accuracy vs a standalone will be surprised. if they don't try it, they'll keep repeating the same mistakes, much like the responses in this thread.

e- JUST LIKE STANDALONES, you should download a map to a device before heading into an area. open street maps has the entire world, for free.

f- that's not all he's said that was wrong

 

go out, test for yourself. it's eye opening.

It's pretty clear from your posts in various topics that you think smartphones are just as good as GPSr's for caching, but I think it's worth noting that you have cached in only 1 US state. I don't mean this as an insult or anything, but just pointing out that your experiences in the middle 5 counties of AL may differ considerably from the experiences of cachers in other countries, states, or even parts of AL. Sometimes, a GPSr really can perform better than a smartphone.

 

no offense taken. :)

 

i'm all ears.... tell me where or how the location matters to triangulation ? maybe you were referring to something else other than triangulation ?

 

1- If you're talking about cell tower triangulation, the accuracy depends on the density of cell towers in your current location. Look at a coverage map from your cellular providers and that'll show you locations where cell tower triangulation won't work. I only have to drive about 6 miles from where I live to get to an area where I lose cell phone reception. I own a couple of a caches where one will not have cell reception at all. You aren't trying to tell us that cell tower triangulation improves the accuracy of determining ones location, are you?

 

2- I think that what noncentric is getting at is that if you're going to make claims about a GPS vs. Smartphone based on experience, having experience in many different locations will provide more credibility. As you mentioned, I *do* travel quite a bit and have geocached in 23 countries. In quite a few of them, most notably in Africa and Cuba the telecommunications infrastructure is quite different than it is in the U.S.

 

1- no, we are not talking about cellular triangulation. we are only discussing gps triangulation, and how a standalone will perform in some-area better than a smartphone will. i'm curious to hear about where these places are. again, for clarification, we are NOT talking about the availability of LTE to download maps, or cell tower placements, or were the might be service, in any way shape or form. just how noncentric mentioned standalones will outperform smartphone's gps capabilities somewhere, in gps triangulation.

 

2- the math used to triangulate does not care how many frequent flyer miles any of us have. i'm looking for areas that noncentric referenced that have significantly better gps triangulation when using standalones, instead of smartphones. have you found places like that ?

 

*edited to highlight gps triangulation, NOT cellular!*

Edited by ohgood

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I use my handheld gpsr (Oregon 600) when kayaking, to put on a bike mount, or if I am hiking in rainy weather. Once in a while I'll take it out in other situations, but even then I generally default to the iPhone for caching.

 

I have found caches in narrow canyons, forests, and hills - a long way from cell phone reception. I can think of several locations with limited satellite reception where the phone got me closer to the cache than the gpsr - but generally when I compare the two there is not much difference. I prefer the phone for earthcaches, letterboxes, or any other situation where graphics and the description are important. I also use the phone to manage the caches I might want to find, maintain offline databases, voice routing and mapping, and to transfer the cache information (gpx file) to the gpsr if need be. But there are times when it's easier to strap the gpsr on the console of my kayak and keep the phone in a dry bag.

 

that's interesting. i would imaging kayakers (i'm probably offending someone by not using the proper cool slang, sorry :) ) would find some very difficult places to travel, and even more difficult to get reliable readings. sheer walls seem to be the biggest problem for gps usage (just my experience) and even traveling fairly slowly doesn't help as the signals seem to bounce and reflect quite a bit down in those river-level places. i would definitely not attempt to use cellular data in those kinds of places. being on the fringe of cellular service usually means lots of battery drain, and lots of webpage/data refreshes also. using the gps in these areas doesn't seem to effect things at all. the sample frequency is the same, the distance between points is also unchanged unless it just can't be pin pointed so a point is skipped.

 

thanks for the input :)

Edited by ohgood

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2- I think that what noncentric is getting at is that if you're going to make claims about a GPS vs. Smartphone based on experience, having experience in many different locations will provide more credibility. As you mentioned, I *do* travel quite a bit and have geocached in 23 countries. In quite a few of them, most notably in Africa and Cuba the telecommunications infrastructure is quite different than it is in the U.S.

Yes - this is what I was trying to say.

 

1- no, we are not talking about cellular triangulation. we are only discussing gps triangulation, and how a standalone will perform in some-area better than a smartphone will. i'm curious to hear about where these places are. again, for clarification, we are NOT talking about the availability of LTE to download maps, or cell tower placements, or were the might be service, in any way shape or form. just how noncentric mentioned standalones will outperform smartphone's gps capabilities somewhere, in gps triangulation.

 

2- the math used to triangulate does not care how many frequent flyer miles any of us have. i'm looking for areas that noncentric referenced that have significantly better gps triangulation when using standalones, instead of smartphones. have you found places like that ?

Well, there are several places I've been to where cell reception was non-existent and my phone (LG Optimus Pro G) wasn't able to locate my position on Google maps. In those places, my GPSr showed and tracked my position just fine. Those locations were as close as 10 miles from downtown Seattle. Even in areas with cell reception, my position on my phone 'jumps' around much more than on my GPSr.

 

I'll be in a no-service area this coming weekend and will do some intentional, side-by-side testing of a couple different phones vs my GPSr. I'll be able to test a new Samsung Galaxy S7.

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Well, there are several places I've been to where cell reception was non-existent and my phone (LG Optimus Pro G) wasn't able to locate my position on Google maps. In those places, my GPSr showed and tracked my position just fine. Those locations were as close as 10 miles from downtown Seattle. Even in areas with cell reception, my position on my phone 'jumps' around much more than on my GPSr.

 

I'll be in a no-service area this coming weekend and will do some intentional, side-by-side testing of a couple different phones vs my GPSr. I'll be able to test a new Samsung Galaxy S7.

 

so, you're using google maps and cellular data/triangulation ? sheesh man, no wonder you think it won't work ! :)

 

please go into your phones Location Settings and select "GPS ONLY" instead of this:

samsungs6locationmode.jpg?timestamp=1458172567983

 

once you've set it to only use the gps antenna, go record a track. google maps will not record tracks, so you'll want something like oruxmaps, osmand, locus, maverick, or similar OFFLINE MAPPING applications to get the job done.

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I use both, but the phone only for ad-hoc caching when traveling, for planned/normal use I prefer the GPSr:

When the batteries run low deep in the woods ... I still have power on my phone to call for help :rolleyes:

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I use both, but the phone only for ad-hoc caching when traveling, for planned/normal use I prefer the GPSr:

When the batteries run low deep in the woods ... I still have power on my phone to call for help :rolleyes:

 

This!

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Well, there are several places I've been to where cell reception was non-existent and my phone (LG Optimus Pro G) wasn't able to locate my position on Google maps. In those places, my GPSr showed and tracked my position just fine. Those locations were as close as 10 miles from downtown Seattle. Even in areas with cell reception, my position on my phone 'jumps' around much more than on my GPSr.

 

I'll be in a no-service area this coming weekend and will do some intentional, side-by-side testing of a couple different phones vs my GPSr. I'll be able to test a new Samsung Galaxy S7.

so, you're using google maps and cellular data/triangulation ? sheesh man, no wonder you think it won't work ! :)

 

please go into your phones Location Settings and select "GPS ONLY" instead of this:

-- image snipped --

 

once you've set it to only use the gps antenna, go record a track. google maps will not record tracks, so you'll want something like oruxmaps, osmand, locus, maverick, or similar OFFLINE MAPPING applications to get the job done.

I mentioned Google Maps as an example of how poorly my phone locates my position when I don't have cell reception. I've tried it with both 'high accuracy' and 'gps only' settings. I don't cache using the Maps app.

I'll test a geocaching app when I don't have cell reception this coming weekend. What's the reason for the track recording?

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Just wait until the first time you drop your phone in water. Then you'll understand.

That's gonna be another "in the past" thing soon.

You haven't seen the Lil Wayne/Samsung commercials ? :lol:

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Was just at a Mega in Allegheny State park, a large 65,000 acre NY state park near the NY/PA border last weekend. I use a GPS but many people who only use a smartphone were complaining about spotty coverage there. They had to adopt the lab caches to where you had to find certain organizers to get the codes to log them because of that.

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Well, there are several places I've been to where cell reception was non-existent and my phone (LG Optimus Pro G) wasn't able to locate my position on Google maps. In those places, my GPSr showed and tracked my position just fine. Those locations were as close as 10 miles from downtown Seattle. Even in areas with cell reception, my position on my phone 'jumps' around much more than on my GPSr.

 

I'll be in a no-service area this coming weekend and will do some intentional, side-by-side testing of a couple different phones vs my GPSr. I'll be able to test a new Samsung Galaxy S7.

so, you're using google maps and cellular data/triangulation ? sheesh man, no wonder you think it won't work ! :)

 

please go into your phones Location Settings and select "GPS ONLY" instead of this:

-- image snipped --

 

once you've set it to only use the gps antenna, go record a track. google maps will not record tracks, so you'll want something like oruxmaps, osmand, locus, maverick, or similar OFFLINE MAPPING applications to get the job done.

 

1 I mentioned Google Maps as an example of how poorly my phone locates my position when I don't have cell reception.

2 I've tried it with both 'high accuracy' and 'gps only' settings. I don't cache using the Maps app.

3 I'll test a geocaching app when I don't have cell reception this coming weekend. What's the reason for the track recording?

 

1 google maps and the geocaching app are both poor metrics for offline usage.

2 the comment you made earlier sounds a lot like using cellular triangulation.

3 great, testing is good. track recording allows you to review and compare the tracks recorded with both the smartphone and standalone in an easy to use program like google earth. seeing the results makes it easier for a lot of people to understand that yes, it really does work.

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Just wait until the first time you drop your phone in water. Then you'll understand.

 

why just drop it when you can freeze it in ice and throw it on the floor ?

 

 

maybe a washing machine ?

 

water is childs play ;-)

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Was just at a Mega in Allegheny State park, a large 65,000 acre NY state park near the NY/PA border last weekend. I use a GPS but many people who only use a smartphone were complaining about spotty coverage there. They had to adopt the lab caches to where you had to find certain organizers to get the codes to log them because of that.

 

yes, trying to use cellular data, where there isn't cellular data, is a bad idea.

 

offline caching rocks, online caching, not so much.

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grr.

Some older phone do make GPS use difficult when there's no cell signal; so if you have problems (in any app) getting a location with no mobile reception, please ALSO indicate what phone model/brand you're using. Any more recent phone should allow GPS reception distinct from the mobile reception.

 

Even Google Maps is not the issue - if the phone gives it a GPS location, it will pinpoint it on the map. The app isn't the problem. The only problem is whether your phone can 'listen' for the GPS signal completely separate from the cell signal. If it does, then you should be able to cache offline [at minimum with GPS/compass] with no problems (provided your phone's settings don't hinder that - so know your phone, know what it can do, and how)

 

Experiences will differ greatly. I also hate when people "agree" with a person's experience as if it's the "truth" - unless you're just agreeing that is the experience you've had (but again please ALSO indicate your smartphone model & brand).

 

Some people have not had good experiences in difficult environments. Ok. So, why? Which phone?

 

I know first hand that difficult environments are not an issue IF you know how to optimize your phone use for it, and IF you have a phone for which those environment may actually not be an issue as so many seem to think.

 

iPhone 3GS, 4S, 5S, 6S Plus --

No cell reception? Not a problem (yes, they all received GPS without cell reception).

Over water? Not a problem.

In the desert? Not a problem.

Shorter battery life? External AA pack, not a problem.

Screen glare? For me, not a problem.

Durability? For my use, my acceptable risk threshold, not a problem.

Accuracy? Increasingly less of a problem with later models (and was never an "issue").

City, skyscrapers, signal bounce? Sat imagery with data, not a problem.

Heavy forest canopy? Increasingly less of a problem with later models (more of a frustration with the 3GS, sometimes 4S).

Extreme cold? Problem.

 

Context: Caching since May 2009, approaching 9000 finds all over Canada/US.

 

But that's my experience, with my caching style/habits, which are different than others'. Certainly not guaranteed that everyone would have the same experience, but it's out there as evidence that "smartphones" are not the problem, and are most certainly capable of advanced geocaching activities like most other dedicated handhelds.

Edited by thebruce0

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grr.

Some older phone do make GPS use difficult when there's no cell signal; so if you have problems (in any app) getting a location with no mobile reception, please ALSO indicate what phone model/brand you're using. Any more recent phone should allow GPS reception distinct from the mobile reception.

 

Even Google Maps is not the issue - if the phone gives it a GPS location, it will pinpoint it on the map. The app isn't the problem. The only problem is whether your phone can 'listen' for the GPS signal completely separate from the cell signal. If it does, then you should be able to cache offline [at minimum with GPS/compass] with no problems (provided your phone's settings don't hinder that - so know your phone, know what it can do, and how)

 

Without a cell signal, a phone can display your location on a map, *if* you have a map. Apparently, with Google Maps you can save maps offline but there is a size limit and they'll expired after a certain period. Assuming you've planned before hand hand saved all the maps you'll need in areas which might not have a cell signal, if you're going to use them for geocaching the app you're using will also need to use those maps. One can navigate to caches using the compass screen, but without a good base map some might still consider that a problem.

 

 

I know first hand that difficult environments are not an issue IF you know how to optimize your phone use for it, and IF you have a phone for which those environment may actually not be an issue as so many seem to think.

 

iPhone 3GS, 4S, 5S, 6S Plus --

No cell reception? Not a problem (yes, they all received GPS without cell reception).

Over water? Not a problem.

 

Are any of the Apple phone water resistant? Of course, one can buy a water resistant case. Some might consider a requirement to spend $40-$60 for a water resistant case to ensure their device isn't damaged while using it near water to be a problem.

 

In the desert? Not a problem.

I have no idea how common this is but when my son took is I-pod touch out to California last summer a screen popped up indicating that it was shutting down because it got too hot. When I had an iPhone it noticed that it would definitely get warm when using a compute intensive application (such as a geocaching app).

Shorter battery life? External AA pack, not a problem.

Again, you're suggesting that it's not a problem to spend extra money in order to deal with short-comings.

Screen glare? For me, not a problem.

Durability? For my use, my acceptable risk threshold, not a problem.

That sounds a lot like, "it's not a problem for me, therefore, it's not a problem".

Accuracy? Increasingly less of a problem with later models (and was never an "issue").

I did some caching with a 3GS and for the most part accuracy wasn't an issue, but I did occasionally come across some hides where better accuracy would have helped a lot. For caches with a "beacon" that can narrow down a search area once you're close, it's not an issue but caches along a fence or some place where there are a lot of potential hiding spots, good accuracy can mean the difference between a find and a DNF.

City, skyscrapers, signal bounce? Sat imagery with data, not a problem.

I wouldn't consider Sat imagery with data to be a given. In my case, a lot of my geocaching is in other countries where access to data is prohibitively expensive. Without a international data plan (more money) access to data will use roaming data (a *lot* more money). Without data you're not going to get Satellite imagery. I did some caching in Rome where buildings are rarely more than 5 stories high but with those narrow streets it was real easy to find yourself on the wrong street. The cache might only be 100 feet away but would take awhile to get to GZ without the ability to leap tall buildings.

 

 

Context: Caching since May 2009, approaching 9000 finds all over Canada/US.

 

My Context: Caching since January 2007 with 1250 finds all over the world (23 countries on 4 continents). I have used a 3GS, and 4S with the old paid app, currently had a Samsung 5 active (with the free app, and recently loaded Locus Maps app). My handheld is an Oregon 450 but I had a Garmin 76Cx prior to that (for caching over water, it has the benefit that it floats).

 

 

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grr.

Some older phone do make GPS use difficult when there's no cell signal; so if you have problems (in any app) getting a location with no mobile reception, please ALSO indicate what phone model/brand you're using. Any more recent phone should allow GPS reception distinct from the mobile reception.

 

Even Google Maps is not the issue - if the phone gives it a GPS location, it will pinpoint it on the map. The app isn't the problem. The only problem is whether your phone can 'listen' for the GPS signal completely separate from the cell signal. If it does, then you should be able to cache offline [at minimum with GPS/compass] with no problems (provided your phone's settings don't hinder that - so know your phone, know what it can do, and how)

 

Experiences will differ greatly. I also hate when people "agree" with a person's experience as if it's the "truth" - unless you're just agreeing that is the experience you've had (but again please ALSO indicate your smartphone model & brand).

 

Some people have not had good experiences in difficult environments. Ok. So, why? Which phone?

 

I know first hand that difficult environments are not an issue IF you know how to optimize your phone use for it, and IF you have a phone for which those environment may actually not be an issue as so many seem to think.

 

iPhone 3GS, 4S, 5S, 6S Plus --

No cell reception? Not a problem (yes, they all received GPS without cell reception).

Over water? Not a problem.

In the desert? Not a problem.

Shorter battery life? External AA pack, not a problem.

Screen glare? For me, not a problem.

Durability? For my use, my acceptable risk threshold, not a problem.

Accuracy? Increasingly less of a problem with later models (and was never an "issue").

City, skyscrapers, signal bounce? Sat imagery with data, not a problem.

Heavy forest canopy? Increasingly less of a problem with later models (more of a frustration with the 3GS, sometimes 4S).

Extreme cold? Problem.

 

Context: Caching since May 2009, approaching 9000 finds all over Canada/US.

 

But that's my experience, with my caching style/habits, which are different than others'. Certainly not guaranteed that everyone would have the same experience, but it's out there as evidence that "smartphones" are not the problem, and are most certainly capable of advanced geocaching activities like most other dedicated handhelds.

 

great point!

 

phones used, without GPS issue while offline:

HTC g1

HTC g2

Nexus 1

lumia 640 (Windows phone is dead now)

Samsung blaze s

" s2 att

" " T-Mobile

Moto G first gen xt1045 (att but world unlocked)

Moto G second and third gen (world phones)

Galaxy s3

galaxy s4, s4 active

galaxy s5 ... don't remember if there was an active though hmm

Casio c771

Samsung rugby

sanding rugby pro

HTC amaze (terrible battery! good Canberra for the time)

doogee something or other m1 ? super fast but no compass so booooo!

Nexus tablet

trio tablet

hisense pro tablet (terrible charging port issues!)

galaxy tab 7"

galaxy tab 8"

galaxy tab 10"

Casio c811

 

I hope to have a Samsung Edge and Samsung s6 (o think that's the latest?) to test next week, but normally it's just old phones that no longer are on contract.

 

honestly, of it has glonass it's going to be so fast there will never better an issue.

 

it's really important to make sure there is a compass though, that usually means it's a better quality device, and will be much nicer for caching.

 

so summary:

look for glonass and compass on the spec sheet

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so summary:

look for glonass and compass on the spec sheet

I bought a used iPhone 5 this weekend. Should arrive shortly. I plan to use it on wifi only, with Geocaching Apps "offline". It seems to have suitable specs. Just like my full-size iPad has, except the iPad has no built-in GPSr. And I can't see tablet screens in bright sunlight. Am I blind in my old age or something?! But the tablets are awkward for hiking in the woods, too. Anyway, I intend to use the iPhone outdoors. Especially with wifi loading of cache info! Sweet!

 

The used Android phones are about $100 cheaper, but among other things, I have a lotta cool iPhone camera Apps that I'm dying to try out. The iPad was also a clumsy camera.

 

I'm eyeing some waterproof/shockproof cases. I know I need that. :anicute:

I'll check back later after some caching trips. Will it replace the Garmin Oregon 650T? Will I use both? You'll just have to wait to find out. :anibad:

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so summary:

look for glonass and compass on the spec sheet

I bought a used iPhone 5 this weekend. Should arrive shortly. I plan to use it on wifi only, with Geocaching Apps "offline". It seems to have suitable specs. Just like my full-size iPad has, except the iPad has no built-in GPSr. And I can't see tablet screens in bright sunlight. Am I blind in my old age or something?! But the tablets are awkward for hiking in the woods, too. Anyway, I intend to use the iPhone outdoors. Especially with wifi loading of cache info! Sweet!

 

The used Android phones are about $100 cheaper, but among other things, I have a lotta cool iPhone camera Apps that I'm dying to try out. The iPad was also a clumsy camera.

 

I'm eyeing some waterproof/shockproof cases. I know I need that. :anicute:

I'll check back later after some caching trips. Will it replace the Garmin Oregon 650T? Will I use both? You'll just have to wait to find out. :anibad:

 

the iOS stuff always impresses, of only it were waterproof so over heating wouldn't be an issue (using cases) I would be using them

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Well, there are several places I've been to where cell reception was non-existent and my phone (LG Optimus Pro G) wasn't able to locate my position on Google maps. In those places, my GPSr showed and tracked my position just fine. Those locations were as close as 10 miles from downtown Seattle. Even in areas with cell reception, my position on my phone 'jumps' around much more than on my GPSr.

 

I'll be in a no-service area this coming weekend and will do some intentional, side-by-side testing of a couple different phones vs my GPSr. I'll be able to test a new Samsung Galaxy S7.

so, you're using google maps and cellular data/triangulation ? sheesh man, no wonder you think it won't work ! :)

 

please go into your phones Location Settings and select "GPS ONLY" instead of this:

-- image snipped --

 

once you've set it to only use the gps antenna, go record a track. google maps will not record tracks, so you'll want something like oruxmaps, osmand, locus, maverick, or similar OFFLINE MAPPING applications to get the job done.

 

1 I mentioned Google Maps as an example of how poorly my phone locates my position when I don't have cell reception.

2 I've tried it with both 'high accuracy' and 'gps only' settings. I don't cache using the Maps app.

3 I'll test a geocaching app when I don't have cell reception this coming weekend. What's the reason for the track recording?

1 google maps and the geocaching app are both poor metrics for offline usage.

2 the comment you made earlier sounds a lot like using cellular triangulation.

3 great, testing is good. track recording allows you to review and compare the tracks recorded with both the smartphone and standalone in an easy to use program like google earth. seeing the results makes it easier for a lot of people to understand that yes, it really does work.

In places where I don't have cell reception, then I've tried both the 'high accuracy' and 'gps only' settings. When neither results in the 'blue dot' finding me, then I set my phone back to 'high accuracy' and put it away until I come across something photo-worthy. When I'm in an area of cell reception, then my phone is already on 'high accuracy' because that's my usual setting for it. Are you saying my phone will track better when set to 'gps only' when I am in an area with good cell reception?

 

In areas without cell reception - Are you saying that another app, like Locus, will be able to locate me on a map better than the Maps app will be able to locate me? I've downloaded offline Google maps for the Maps app before. How do I download map tiles on Locus for use offline, in the free version?

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Well, there are several places I've been to where cell reception was non-existent and my phone (LG Optimus Pro G) wasn't able to locate my position on Google maps. In those places, my GPSr showed and tracked my position just fine. Those locations were as close as 10 miles from downtown Seattle. Even in areas with cell reception, my position on my phone 'jumps' around much more than on my GPSr.

 

I'll be in a no-service area this coming weekend and will do some intentional, side-by-side testing of a couple different phones vs my GPSr. I'll be able to test a new Samsung Galaxy S7.

so, you're using google maps and cellular data/triangulation ? sheesh man, no wonder you think it won't work ! :)

 

please go into your phones Location Settings and select "GPS ONLY" instead of this:

-- image snipped --

 

once you've set it to only use the gps antenna, go record a track. google maps will not record tracks, so you'll want something like oruxmaps, osmand, locus, maverick, or similar OFFLINE MAPPING applications to get the job done.

 

1 I mentioned Google Maps as an example of how poorly my phone locates my position when I don't have cell reception.

2 I've tried it with both 'high accuracy' and 'gps only' settings. I don't cache using the Maps app.

3 I'll test a geocaching app when I don't have cell reception this coming weekend. What's the reason for the track recording?

1 google maps and the geocaching app are both poor metrics for offline usage.

2 the comment you made earlier sounds a lot like using cellular triangulation.

3 great, testing is good. track recording allows you to review and compare the tracks recorded with both the smartphone and standalone in an easy to use program like google earth. seeing the results makes it easier for a lot of people to understand that yes, it really does work.

In places where I don't have cell reception, then I've tried both the 'high accuracy' and 'gps only' settings. When neither results in the 'blue dot' finding me, then I set my phone back to 'high accuracy' and put it away until I come across something photo-worthy. When I'm in an area of cell reception, then my phone is already on 'high accuracy' because that's my usual setting for it. Are you saying my phone will track better when set to 'gps only' when I am in an area with good cell reception?

 

In areas without cell reception - Are you saying that another app, like Locus, will be able to locate me on a map better than the Maps app will be able to locate me? I've downloaded offline Google maps for the Maps app before. How do I download map tiles on Locus for use offline, in the free version?

 

I think that we're talking about two issues.

 

With a cell phone that uses aGPS it's going to try and use a combination of the embedded GPS and cell tower+wifi signals to get an initial fix on your location. If you don't have cell signal, switching the phone to "gps only" tell it is to stop trying to obtain the initial approximate location using cell towers to obtain that initial satellite lock. Once an initial lock is obtained, the cell tower signals aren't going to increase accuracy. With a handheld GPS if you are in, for example, central park new york , have a satellite lock then turn off the GPS, the next time you turn on the GPS it will use your last known location to quickly obtain a satellite lock. If, you had turned off the GPS, got on a plane and few to San Francisco and turned on the GPS after you get off the plane, it can take a very long time to obtain a satellite lock because the last known location isn't going to help much. With a phone with aGPS it will quickly determine an approximate location in San Francisco using cell signals and that will significantly improve the time it takes to obtain a lock.

 

I suspect that using a separate app isn't really going to change anything. The location services are part of the OS and are just providing location information to any app that needs location information.

 

I just started using Locus Maps and there is documentation on their wiki for how to obtain offline map data. I don't really want to say much more about it as it might be considered a competing application to the official Geocaching app.

 

 

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grr.

Some older phone do make GPS use difficult when there's no cell signal; so if you have problems (in any app) getting a location with no mobile reception, please ALSO indicate what phone model/brand you're using. Any more recent phone should allow GPS reception distinct from the mobile reception.

 

Even Google Maps is not the issue - if the phone gives it a GPS location, it will pinpoint it on the map. The app isn't the problem. The only problem is whether your phone can 'listen' for the GPS signal completely separate from the cell signal. If it does, then you should be able to cache offline [at minimum with GPS/compass] with no problems (provided your phone's settings don't hinder that - so know your phone, know what it can do, and how)

--

Without a cell signal, a phone can display your location on a map, *if* you have a map.

I wasn't referring to the visual tiles (perhaps I should have said "screen"), I meant that Google Maps' GPS accuracy is not reliant on cell signal. Whether you have tiles available offline or not, you get your location from the OS, and the app will work just as well (apart from data-required content, of course) with GPS as any other app; including its map widget which other apps may use.

 

Apparently, with Google Maps you can save maps offline but there is a size limit and they'll expired after a certain period.

Yes, the automatic map caching, which I've relied upon many times. If you're going where you know there's no data, then scroll around at various relevant zoom levels to cache the tiles. I haven't seen the option to manually save maps for offline use in Google Maps, but maybe that's a new feature.

 

Regardless, I don't use Google Maps for caching, only lengthier navigation or quick location pinning. Geosphere allows use of the Google Map widget, but Geosphere handles all the pins and compass/walking/navigational features. I have never had a problem with no cell signal, let alone no data, while using Google Maps' functions in regards to accuracy or location determination.

 

One can navigate to caches using the compass screen, but without a good base map some might still consider that a problem.

Sure. My response was to an earlier comment that Google Maps does not work as well without cell signal in the area of GPS capability (perhaps inferred), which isn't true.

 

Are any of the Apple phone water resistant? Of course, one can buy a water resistant case. Some might consider a requirement to spend $40-$60 for a water resistant case to ensure their device isn't damaged while using it near water to be a problem.

Like I said, if you have a case, you are prepared. I don't use a case, and that's a risk I am personally willing to take. And I've always said that out of the box, a dedicated handheld gps has features/benefits that smartphones don't have.

Even so, the 6S Plus is much more water resistant than prior models.

 

I have no idea how common this is but when my son took is I-pod touch out to California last summer a screen popped up indicating that it was shutting down because it got too hot. When I had an iPhone it noticed that it would definitely get warm when using a compute intensive application (such as a geocaching app).

Yeah, so you take care when you use it (as you do any device if you know their limits). I didn't keep it in the sun all of the time (I don't even use the device unless needed, unlike some people who like to hold their device in front of them actively navigating as they hike even long straight trailways :P) another point about extending battery life (optimizing use).

 

Shorter battery life? External AA pack, not a problem.

 

Again, you're suggesting that it's not a problem to spend extra money in order to deal with short-comings.

Again, that's right, because I believe it's an acceptable tradeoff for me. Doesn't change the fact that out of the box the general smartphone is of course less durable than handheld and uses more battery power. Never denied that. Just saying that the problem is not an issue, IF you have no problem with using accessories.

 

If someone is looking for a better device out-of-the-box, that's different than looking for a device that is capable, with no set restrictions on additions to ensure it. ie, it is possible to balance the geocaching experiences across multiple devices and device classes. Those of who defend "smartphones" (once determining the model in question) typically say that it's certainly sufficient for geocaching, and in some cases more than some handhelds -- but we've also admitted certain accessories, costs, caching styles and habits, that make that possible.

 

So, again, it comes down to using what works for you.

 

Screen glare? For me, not a problem.

Durability? For my use, my acceptable risk threshold, not a problem.

 

That sounds a lot like, "it's not a problem for me, therefore, it's not a problem".

Not at all. You'll see earlier I clearly said that everyone's experience is different. My only goal here is to refute criticisms often leveled at "smartphones" as universally inferior to dedicated handheld devices. It's a much more complicated question than merely "my experience with device XYZ was good/bad, so yours will be too."

 

Details. Context.

 

I did some caching with a 3GS and for the most part accuracy wasn't an issue, but I did occasionally come across some hides where better accuracy would have helped a lot. For caches with a "beacon" that can narrow down a search area once you're close, it's not an issue but caches along a fence or some place where there are a lot of potential hiding spots, good accuracy can mean the difference between a find and a DNF.

I've found there's a fine line between your device's accuracy to the actual cache location, and the accuracy of the posted coordinates to actual cache location. I learned not to blindly trust any device's reading within maybe 5m generally speaking in the context of geocaching, because if either side is not completely accurate, it's just a waste of time to try to pinpoint the cache listing's posted coordinates. Really. That's from my own device, and observing prolific cachers with their own dedicated GPS devices.

 

That's not a statement against any device itself, that's a statement about geocaching practice with any device.

 

City, skyscrapers, signal bounce? Sat imagery with data, not a problem.

 

I wouldn't consider Sat imagery with data to be a given. In my case, a lot of my geocaching is in other countries where access to data is prohibitively expensive. Without a international data plan (more money) access to data will use roaming data (a *lot* more money). Without data you're not going to get Satellite imagery. I did some caching in Rome where buildings are rarely more than 5 stories high but with those narrow streets it was real easy to find yourself on the wrong street. The cache might only be 100 feet away but would take awhile to get to GZ without the ability to leap tall buildings.

Case by case, you always deal with your situation and go prepared. In this particular case, I would locate some place with wifi and then get/cache maps for use wherever I intend to go (if I hadn't already before arriving). Regardless, in this case a dedicated handheld would be worse off - signal bounce and no imagery to visually gauge where the cache may be placed (especially if the CO used said imagery to make the placement).

 

Context: Caching since May 2009, approaching 9000 finds all over Canada/US.

 

My Context: Caching since January 2007 with 1250 finds all over the world (23 countries on 4 continents). I have used a 3GS, and 4S with the old paid app, currently had a Samsung 5 active (with the free app, and recently loaded Locus Maps app). My handheld is an Oregon 450 but I had a Garmin 76Cx prior to that (for caching over water, it has the benefit that it floats).

Excellent. Great insight.

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the iOS stuff always impresses, of only it were waterproof so over heating wouldn't be an issue (using cases) I would be using them

Overheating with cases is still one thing that eats at me, and another reason I avoid cases. :P But, I've had a thin case on my 6S+ since I got it and haven't had an issue. Mainly it was because of that dumb extruded camera lens, so that wrap lets it sit flat :) (and it's the inner magnetic wrap that keeps it in place for the outer bill-fold flap; it's a nice case, but certainly not for durability).

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I just started using Locus Maps and there is documentation on their wiki for how to obtain offline map data. I don't really want to say much more about it as it might be considered a competing application to the official Geocaching app.

I've always wondered if Groundspeak felt that way about official partner apps, but now that Groundspeak's own app is free, it occurs to me that they have nothing to lose (a lost "free" sale) when someone buys a partner app. They're not really "competing" anymore, are they? At least not financially. (Competing for best way to hook someone on the game, I suppose, leading to paid memberships.)

 

So I think we're free to blab all we want about partner apps now. (Except in the ®-app forums, sigh, where they'd be considered off-topic.)

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I've always wondered if Groundspeak felt that way about official partner apps, but now that Groundspeak's own app is free, it occurs to me that they have nothing to lose (a lost "free" sale) when someone buys a partner app. They're not really "competing" anymore, are they? At least not financially. (Competing for best way to hook someone on the game, I suppose, leading to paid memberships.)

 

So I think we're free to blab all we want about partner apps now. (Except in the ®-app forums, sigh, where they'd be considered off-topic.)

 

I may be mistaken, but I thought there were objections to the manner in which one or some of these apps acquired data from geocaching.com, which is why it's okay to talk about legitimate partners, but not other entities.

 

I'd hate to see another forum regular in hot water over this issue. :(

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I believe it's only one specific app (has ":" in the name) that is persona non grata in the forums.

 

But Groundspeak has closed the API to new applicants, which means the only alternative would be ... drumroll ... more "illegal" apps. On behalf of aspiring app developers, I wish Groundspeak would reconsider that...

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In areas without cell reception - Are you saying that 1) another app, like Locus, will be able to locate me on a map better than the Google Maps app will be able to locate me?

2) I've downloaded offline Google maps for the Maps app before. 3) How do I download map tiles on Locus for use offline, in the free version?

 

i think nypaddler summed it up pretty good, but since you quoted me, i'm adding :)

 

1- my experience with google maps has been that it's not reliable after an hour or two without cellular service. i honestly have no explanation for why. it doesn't seem that having downloaded the area before hand makes a difference. sometimes it's fast/reliable, other times it's so slow i just wonder why it's available at all. this happens across three different devices and two different carriers. yes, other apps have been reliable in both location, tracking, and navigation. this isn't just "hey lets promote locus!" lovefest, i've seen several applications locate and navigate just fine without cellular data. street: here maps, navigon, sygic, locus, oruxmaps... no streets: locus, oruxmaps, backcountrynavigator, dualsportmaps (love this one, but the online stuff went away boooo!), maverick, and others i've quit using.

2- man googles servers are FAST, and i wish their file handling was available for other things, the files work really quick !

 

3- this is the easiest website to use to download a state at a time:

http://www.locusvectormaps.com/

 

you can download via your phone's browser, over wifi or cellular.

once downloaded, move the map file to your locus/vectorMaps/ directory, and the next time the app is started, it should show them. if not, the directory can be added with the "+" button. the ..../locus/ folder's location will depend on if you're using an sdcard or the phones internal memory:

internal usually: /mnt/sdcard/locus

sdcard usually: /mnt/external_sdcard/locus

 

it will change also from one android version to another. sorry, can't do anything about that. android is.... android ;-)

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Even so, the 6S Plus is much more water resistant than prior models.

 

 

i may have screwed up the quote, but i wanted to thank you for THAT bit of info. i had no idea.

 

so thanks ! :)

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my experience with google maps has been that it's not reliable after an hour or two without cellular service.

 

This doesn't make sense at all.

 

Are you referring to map viewing, or GPS accuracy? The only way I can interpret your statement is the former - that without the cell service while you're using the app for an hour or two, your scrolling has effectively cleared out the app's offline map cache and was unable to download any new tiles.

 

GPS accuracy itself won't 'degrade' after an hour or two. If the device has GPS reception, the app uses that info - GPS capability is dependent on the device and OS, not the app.

At least on iOS.

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I see I'm not the first or only one to say it: I don't have a smart phone. I can't think of anything I'd use it for besides geocaching and possibly Ingress and I can't see buying a phone and a data plan just for that. I've never seen anyone else using a smart phone for anything else that would appeal to me. I frankly don't see why they're so popular. I sit at my desktop most of the day where I have total instant access to everything on the Internet with a big screen I can actually read, a real keyboard and mouse I can actually use, and a real stereo with sound quality worth listening to. I can write programs to accomplish all the puzzle and cipher solving I do, write my own games, etc. Why would I want a tiny device that has none of those things? When I go out I'm rarely in a position where I can use a smart phone, e.g. driving, running, or talking or visiting with people. I know I'm in the minority and don't mean it as a criticism of others, but it does mystify me.

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my experience with google maps has been that it's not reliable after an hour or two without cellular service.

 

This doesn't make sense at all.

 

Are you referring to map viewing, or GPS accuracy? The only way I can interpret your statement is the former - that without the cell service while you're using the app for an hour or two, your scrolling has effectively cleared out the app's offline map cache and was unable to download any new tiles.

 

GPS accuracy itself won't 'degrade' after an hour or two. If the device has GPS reception, the app uses that info - GPS capability is dependent on the device and OS, not the app.

At least on iOS.

 

the tiles are fine, and locating position is fine. then I'll try to get driving directions and it will become sluggish, out not function at all beyond just locating and displaying tiles. I don't know if it's a bug, my old phones, or designed into the app to promote online usage. no idea really, since other applications don't have this problem.

 

I expected Google to completely kill it when they finally allowed offline driving directions and tiles, and possibly go all out and make it like other apps in complete good functionality. nope, not yet.

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I've never seen anyone else using a smart phone for anything else that would appeal to me.

 

weird, ain't it?

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the tiles are fine, and locating position is fine. then I'll try to get driving directions and it will become sluggish, out not function at all beyond just locating and displaying tiles. I don't know if it's a bug, my old phones, or designed into the app to promote online usage. no idea really, since other applications don't have this problem.

 

I expected Google to completely kill it when they finally allowed offline driving directions and tiles, and possibly go all out and make it like other apps in complete good functionality. nope, not yet.

 

Ahhhh, see "directions" was left out of your other comments :P (or I just missed it) Yes, Google Maps requires an active data connection to determine optimal transport routes. That has nothing to do with GPS capability though, it's purely a Google service.

 

You need to make use of the Offline functions in the app to know what that app can do when there is no signal, and prepare beforehand if you want to download an area for offline directions. If that's what you've been doing though, and that's what you've been relying on, then I dunno... perhaps Google's Maps app's offline directions feature is just not up to par.

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I see I'm not the first or only one to say it: I don't have a smart phone. I can't think of anything I'd use it for besides geocaching and possibly Ingress and I can't see buying a phone and a data plan just for that.

My idea is to use a smartphone with no data plan. It will be a lot how I use my Android tablet, to load caches at a Hotspot, especially to get current cache info, messages, whatever, while on the road where it's too much trouble to load my Garmin Oregon on-the-fly. But I'll also be able to hunt a cache with the phone, using offline features of a Geocaching App. And it fits in a pocket.

 

It's the least waterproof phone ever. Maybe I'll get a decent case. Depends on how much I like Geocaching with it.

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Just wait until the first time you drop your phone in water. Then you'll understand.

 

Smart phone not so smart while sinking :laughing: My GPS is waterproof and floats too. :anitongue:

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Here are some preliminary results of my wading into the brave new world of The Smartphone.

 

I have an iPhone 5, purchased used, and I'm not activating the voice/data subscription. It's wifi only. It's an idea I had, to have a pocket-sized version of my old Android and iPad tablets, something I can load at a Hotspot, and it's also to be a database backup in case I forgot to load something in my Garmin Oregon. It also has other handy Apps I've loaded.

 

The first thing I notice is, the iPhone display is about half as visible as the Oregon's screen. Pretty bad in sunlight. I was afraid of that. I was also thinking, “I can rest assured that before they mass-produce this thing, they of course would make a screen that's easily visible outdoors”. Nope. Wrong.

Meh, it's a whole lot easier to read than either tablet, in the sun.

 

The 2nd thing I noticed is, the battery lasts about 3 hours. Now I need to buy more accessories, to keep this thing alive.

 

Also, its distance and direction guidance seems a little soft. Well, let's just say that it's got it's own personality, and I must get accustomed to what it's trying to tell me. It's different from the Garmin. Ok, just between you and me, the phone does not know where it is, nor where it's pointing. Don't let people cache with it! I empathize with cachers who have trouble caching with a phone. If you can find anything, you're doing much better than I did. The Garmin is oh so much better at navigation than the phone is. The difference of night and day.

 

AND the Apps are really, really bad for offline use. I tried “Looking4 Cache” with a pre-loaded map and PQs, and the Official Geocaching App. Right out of the gate, the Official Geocaching App utterly failed. It had a list of “Lists” displayed, but evidently I neglected to download any of them for offline use. Therefore, I also had no pre-loaded maps. OK, that's on me, no big deal, so I won't see caches nor maps, but I can still navigate to a typed waypoint, right? Wrong! I was presented with an empty grid where the maps & caches would be. I cannot make a waypoint to enter coordinates until navigating to some cache, and there aren't any loaded. Blank screen. That is unacceptable -- I should be able to at least type coords, no matter what. I'd have some pretty stern words to post about that, if I thought it would make a difference. But it's not what you call an "offline App", not actually designed for that purpose, and I've about given up trying to make a difference.

 

The other App was “Looking4Cache” an App semi-translated into English. It points to a distance of “Mil”. Is that... millimeteres? Mils which are... what? It converts to... what? And the map defaults to Cartersville, a town 100 miles north of here. I eventually lock onto the actual location somehow, and the next time I start to set up another cache, Cartersville again. There's a compass menu icon in an odd place on the map screen. The direction the compass points is especially wacky, pointing at places on a whim. And it's displayed in gradient colors as if it has faded away. Good thing it isn't showing the direction to the cache, because you can't see it. The help file is online, I guess, since it just sits & spins, no help is displayed while at the cache when you need help. Dude, you gotta have some kind of offline help file, I mean really. Sometimes I can type a waypoint, other times the same process gives the error “Target not selected”. Um, I hoped the App was gonna do that for me after I typed the coords, but it never let me do so. I'll have tons of questions on that Forum, assuming there is one. I'm sure beginning to miss "Locus Map Pro", a very nice Android App that works for Geocaching. I'd consider dumping the iPhone for an Android phone and starting this whole thing over again.

 

For my waypoints, I tried typing them into Commander Compass, and that worked OK. The iPhone's compass and distance are soft, as I mentioned. Guess I have some reading to do, to calibrate what I can. With practice, I'll get a feel for what it's telling me. It's OK. It's not a Garmin Oregon. I am sooo glad I didn't start out trying to Geocache with an iPhone. Night and day, I tell ya.

 

Anyway, the iPhone is not gonna replace my Oregon any time soon. I was hoping it would at least supplement the Oregon. We'll see.

Edited by kunarion

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The iPhone battery lasts longer than 3 hours. What are you running? If you keep the gps on and you're not optimizing its use, then it can certainly drain the power faster. I think people with a handheld are 'spoiled' (not in a bad way) in that they can keep that on (since it's only use for gps), and its life is much longer. Smartphones do a whole lot more by default, often in the background unknowingly, and so need to tweaking to optimize its battery usage. For iOS there is a report in Settings that will show you which apps are using the most battery. OS-level settings need to be adjusted too (especially allowance of apps to use GPS and other potential features in the background that you don't need active).

 

Secondly, I've always been an "S" user (3GS, 4S, 5S, 6S+) so perhaps I'm spoiled on the iOS's in that I've always had experince with the 2nd gen. of each model. =P Can't speak first hand on potential issues with iPhone 5.

 

As for apps - well that's entirely dependent on your app. I've always used Geosphere, and moved away from the official app years ago. It doesn't have downloadable map features, beyond the standard map caching which is just set by manually scrolling around the map areas you may want to view later at various zoom levels; then enter airplane mode and view them again to make sure you've got what you need before leaving your data service (whether wifi or cell signal). Geosphere is great offline, as long as you've got what you need downloaded; but its database is completely stored offline - anything that requires a data connection is categorized under "Online" or API. It was initially an offline app, but online features were added, along with the API, when that became more useful. I don't like apps that don't indicate what is online and offline (like the official app which won't work offline).

 

In short, again, out-of-the-box, the handheld gpsr may be more capable and perhaps easier to pick up and use, but if you master the learning curve of the smartphone model you get and optimize your use with it, you can have access to so much more capability.

 

It's hard for anyone to move away from a device they're rooted in though. I'd likely have as much difficulty going from smartphone to handheld (right off the bat I complain about the screen, and I've seen a whole bunch). :P So if you've started with a handheld, you'll likely always have a better experience with a handheld; and vice versa.

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The iPhone battery lasts longer than 3 hours. What are you running? If you keep the gps on and you're not optimizing its use, then it can certainly drain the power faster. I think people with a handheld are 'spoiled' (not in a bad way) in that they can keep that on (since it's only use for gps), and its life is much longer. Smartphones do a whole lot more by default, often in the background unknowingly, and so need to tweaking to optimize its battery usage. For iOS there is a report in Settings that will show you which apps are using the most battery. OS-level settings need to be adjusted too (especially allowance of apps to use GPS and other potential features in the background that you don't need active).

It was in no way optimized, I checked no reports. I just ran it as is, to see if it gets very hot (it didn't) and especially to see how long it takes to go to "zero". I didn't have it "on" the whole time. I took pictures, ran both Geocaching Apps, and played with a photo editor. I ran "GPS" at it's highest setting (one App has selections). I also had Bluetooth turned on since one App said to do so because that improves GPS accuracy. It hadn't gone dead after 3 hours, so there was time remaining. But it's probably pretty close. I've already turned off a couple of things that I think use "phone or data" since I don't need either. I wonder if I can turn off being reminded I have no SIM card. I'll remember there's no SIM card. I can write it down in case I forget. :anicute:

 

The battery is nothing, I can charge it. The low accuracy and the goofy Apps are concerns. Until today, I thought the Garmin was clunky and slow. Compared to the iPhone 5, it's Deep Thought. I know there are newer phones.

 

I'm now testing a couple more Apps.

 

Today I learned why I why I still use external GPS devices. :anibad:

Edited by kunarion

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:)

 

Yeah, bluetooth, if I recall, when on it's like using wifi for accuracy. It's sort of like using AGPS; some wifi can be physically located, especially hotspots that give free IP connectivity, so sensing wifi networks (or perhaps bluetooth sources) helps speed up and pinpoint location like AGPS does (but I'm not an expert on the wifi/bt location features). I believe that's the factor. Really, pretty insignificant these days for phones like iPhone 5 and up with true GPS capabilities.

IMO, BT is an unnecessary battery hog.

Turn off wifi when you don't need it.

Turn down scren brightness (if you don't need it bright, which it sounds like you might :) I personally don't have a problem with the screen in sun, I instinctively turn to read it in my shadow if not in shade already, rather than first thinking "this sucks!")

I've only resorted to an external battery pack on full-day hikes (multiple hours, usually 9 or more, if with friends, shorter if alone) when I have no access to a power source like a car or ourlet. The AA battery pack means replaceable batteries that can also be shared with other devices like flashlights and other handhelds - I left single-use rechargeable juice packs long ago because they're dead weight once used up without a recharge source. AA is the way to go. But again, optimize my use, I've never faced battery depletion without having access to a power source for charging, or the external pack. You may learn your device better than anyone else over time for how to optimize its power, since only you know its apps and how you like to use it most.

Edited by thebruce0

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Yeah, bluetooth, if I recall, when on it's like using wifi for accuracy. It's sort of like using AGPS; some wifi can be physical located, so sensing wifi networks (or perhaps bluetooth sources) helps speed up and pinpoint location like AGPS does. I believe that's the factor. Really, pretty insignificant these days for phones like iPhone 5 and up.

The App gave no explanation, and I didn't over-think it :anicute:. But in the rural park where I was testing it, I'd bet there weren't a lot of wifi or Bluetooth signals to pick up.

 

I was never offered a compass calibration. It arrived pre-refurbish calibrated in the box. I looked it up just now and will calibrate that. That's bound to help clear up the strange pointings. Yeah, there are likely other tweaks to do. [EDIT: I'm getting conflicting info about "compass calibration", so it looks like I have more research ahead.]

 

Good point about the brightness! I didn't adjust that at all. It seemed OK, but it's set a little on the high side (and it's also on Auto Bright). The tablets needed to be set to auto-adjust, so they can go full bright in the sunshine. Maybe the phone can stay dimmer.

 

If I'm able to load a cache quickly at a Hotspot and go hunt the cache (which I think I can), this will be acceptable. Everything else is already loaded on the Oregon. I won't be running the phone all day, optimized or not. It's just for certain situations where I'm sending or loading stuff on the Interwebs. Also the camera Apps are nice. :anicute:

 

I instinctively turn to read it in my shadow if not in shade already, rather than first thinking "this sucks!")

Don't be holding a Garmin Oregon 550T for comparison while you look at the phone screen. Your first thought will be "this sucks!" :laughing:

Edited by kunarion

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Here are some preliminary results of my wading into the brave new world of The Smartphone.

 

I have an iPhone 5, purchased used, and I'm not activating the voice/data subscription. It's wifi only. It's an idea I had, to have a pocket-sized version of my old Android and iPad tablets, something I can load at a Hotspot, and it's also to be a database backup in case I forgot to load something in my Garmin Oregon. It also has other handy Apps I've loaded.

 

The first thing I notice is, the iPhone display is about half as visible as the Oregon's screen. Pretty bad in sunlight. I was afraid of that. I was also thinking, “I can rest assured that before they mass-produce this thing, they of course would make a screen that's easily visible outdoors”. Nope. Wrong.

Meh, it's a whole lot easier to read than either tablet, in the sun.

 

The 2nd thing I noticed is, the battery lasts about 3 hours. Now I need to buy more accessories, to keep this thing alive.

 

Also, its distance and direction guidance seems a little soft. Well, let's just say that it's got it's own personality, and I must get accustomed to what it's trying to tell me. It's different from the Garmin. Ok, just between you and me, the phone does not know where it is, nor where it's pointing. Don't let people cache with it! I empathize with cachers who have trouble caching with a phone. If you can find anything, you're doing much better than I did. The Garmin is oh so much better at navigation than the phone is. The difference of night and day.

 

AND the Apps are really, really bad for offline use. I tried “Looking4 Cache” with a pre-loaded map and PQs, and the Official Geocaching App. Right out of the gate, the Official Geocaching App utterly failed. It had a list of “Lists” displayed, but evidently I neglected to download any of them for offline use. Therefore, I also had no pre-loaded maps. OK, that's on me, no big deal, so I won't see caches nor maps, but I can still navigate to a typed waypoint, right? Wrong! I was presented with an empty grid where the maps & caches would be. I cannot make a waypoint to enter coordinates until navigating to some cache, and there aren't any loaded. Blank screen. That is unacceptable -- I should be able to at least type coords, no matter what. I'd have some pretty stern words to post about that, if I thought it would make a difference. But it's not what you call an "offline App", not actually designed for that purpose, and I've about given up trying to make a difference.

 

The other App was “Looking4Cache” an App semi-translated into English. It points to a distance of “Mil”. Is that... millimeteres? Mils which are... what? It converts to... what? And the map defaults to Cartersville, a town 100 miles north of here. I eventually lock onto the actual location somehow, and the next time I start to set up another cache, Cartersville again. There's a compass menu icon in an odd place on the map screen. The direction the compass points is especially wacky, pointing at places on a whim. And it's displayed in gradient colors as if it has faded away. Good thing it isn't showing the direction to the cache, because you can't see it. The help file is online, I guess, since it just sits & spins, no help is displayed while at the cache when you need help. Dude, you gotta have some kind of offline help file, I mean really. Sometimes I can type a waypoint, other times the same process gives the error “Target not selected”. Um, I hoped the App was gonna do that for me after I typed the coords, but it never let me do so. I'll have tons of questions on that Forum, assuming there is one. I'm sure beginning to miss "Locus Map Pro", a very nice Android App that works for Geocaching. I'd consider dumping the iPhone for an Android phone and starting this whole thing over again.

For my waypoints, I tried typing them into Commander Compass, and that worked OK. The iPhone's compass and distance are soft, as I mentioned. Guess I have some reading to do, to calibrate what I can. With practice, I'll get a feel for what it's telling me. It's OK. It's not a Garmin Oregon. I am sooo glad I didn't start out trying to Geocache with an iPhone. Night and day, I tell ya.

 

Anyway, the iPhone is not gonna replace my Oregon any time soon. I was hoping it would at least supplement the Oregon. We'll see.

 

the iOS user interface is awesome. it's display should be very very good when compared to the oregon, except where there is glare from the glossy screen. this part about not being visible puzzled me. please keep in mind that EVERY app works, and is written, completely independatly of every other app.... one's performance has nothing to do with the next... so you kind of have to find the app that works for your needs. yes, the locus app rocks, but there are plenty of them on android that suck just as bad as what it sounds like you found on ios.

 

the bluetooth /wifi and gps functionality completely baffled me. i don't see how bluetooth matters for gps functionality... maybe that's an iphone thing ? or an earlier (iphone 5?) model iphone thing ? if someone told me i had to close the closet door, knock on the front door, and close the mailbox door to flush the toilet, i'd likely bulldoze the house and start over ;-)

 

please keep the review coming. i think you'll learn stuff, and educate us in the process too ;-)

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the iOS user interface is awesome. it's display should be very very good when compared to the oregon, except where there is glare from the glossy screen. this part about not being visible puzzled me. please keep in mind that EVERY app works, and is written, completely independatly of every other app.... one's performance has nothing to do with the next... so you kind of have to find the app that works for your needs. yes, the locus app rocks, but there are plenty of them on android that suck just as bad as what it sounds like you found on ios.

 

the bluetooth /wifi and gps functionality completely baffled me. i don't see how bluetooth matters for gps functionality... maybe that's an iphone thing ? or an earlier (iphone 5?) model iphone thing ? if someone told me i had to close the closet door, knock on the front door, and close the mailbox door to flush the toilet, i'd likely bulldoze the house and start over ;-)

 

please keep the review coming. i think you'll learn stuff, and educate us in the process too ;-)

I've been reading about the Bluetooth thing. The phone will make use of all available location signals including GPS, cell tower, wifi, and "ibeacons" that may be at businesses. So it all comes together for better accuracy. My phone having no cell service, is probably not using cell towers, and that setting (Phone) is grayed-out. I'm guessing that the "Bluetooth" part of the equation is non-existent out in the woods. So I may switch that off and see how it goes. If the phone doesn't start complaining, I'm happy. :P

 

I've installed "Cachly", and it's a pretty cool App. But it loads map tiles for offline use, based on PQs, and with my usual PQ it took over an hour to load the tiles, just one town's caches. It doesn't load and store a whole country's map like L4C does. L4C's strong suit may be its mapping capability, maybe good for planning. But Cachly is looking a little better for offline cache hunting.

 

The phone's screen has no glare. It came with a matte screen protector. I'd like one of those for the Garmin. But it does interfere with the display a little. The display would be sharper without it.

 

I'm carrying the phone just like I did with a tablet, yet it's more portable. For checking weather, email, reading the Forum, or checking out caches. I don't carry the Garmin Oregon unless I'm caching. So it will be cool to have a caching device at hand when I get the bug. It looks like, as you say, a decent App pretty much takes care of a bunch of the issues. I can live without the Oregon for a short while. I'll survive :anicute:. I'm going on a more serious cache hunt tomorrow, custom waypoints and all. That will be a good test.

Edited by kunarion

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Today I found a new cache, using the wifi-only phone. That's what I'm talkin' about! :D I walked into a store that had wifi, and the cache was literally across the street. In theory, I could grab an FTF this way, which could not happen using the pre-loaded Garmin GPSr. I would normally have to go home, discover a new cache listed, then load the GPSr, then go find the cache. By having a phone I can load on-the-fly (on wifi), I skipped a bunch of steps. Pretty sweet!

 

There was one leetle hitch, though. I opened the cache in the Official Geocaching App, and started navigation. Then I drove across the street. By the time I arrived, the phone had blanked, gone back to power saving mode, and when I woke the App, the screen was blank (no data connection across the street). My old tablets had a much longer time-out, and I could start the compass and go, even though I would lose the wifi signal quickly. I can't load & go using the phone. The App can't just remain as is, it requires a constant data connection... why?! Two minutes ago it had all the info it needed, there is no more to load, why isn't the App designed to keep its last loaded info available? If you see anyone from Groundspeak, tell them that they are sick, cruel people!

 

Mental note: Immediately save any cache info for offline use, any time I load it.

Edited by kunarion

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Today I found a new cache, using the wifi-only phone. That's what I'm talkin' about! :D I walked into a store that had wifi, and the cache was literally across the street. In theory, I could grab an FTF this way, which could not happen using the pre-loaded Garmin GPSr. I would normally have to go home, discover a new cache listed, then load the GPSr, then go find the cache. By having a phone I can load on-the-fly (on wifi), I skipped a bunch of steps. Pretty sweet!

 

There was one leetle hitch, though. I opened the cache in the Official Geocaching App, and started navigation. Then I drove across the street. By the time I arrived, the phone had blanked, gone back to power saving mode, and when I woke the App, the screen was blank (no data connection across the street). My old tablets had a much longer time-out, and I could start the compass and go, even though I would lose the wifi signal quickly. I can't load & go using the phone. The App can't just remain as is, it requires a constant data connection... why?! Two minutes ago it had all the info it needed, there is no more to load, why isn't the App designed to keep its last loaded info available? If you see anyone from Groundspeak, tell them that they are sick, cruel people!

 

Mental note: Immediately save any cache info for offline use, any time I load it.

 

save ALL your caches, that way if/when they get archived, deleted, whatever online, you can still visit the places you want to, without waiting for the mothership to approve.

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