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tmd135gg

advantages of gps over android geocaching app?

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We've always geocached with our android app. We were wondering what are the advantages of using a separate gps device?

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Which Android app?  You mean the house brand?

I see no advantages against a good app in a rugged phone.

Let the debate begin anew!

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Usually the main advantage is precision.  Phones do not usually have WAAS and the GPS is not setup to be sensitive to small movements.  You lose a lot of precision without the WAAS and it makes caching a bit more difficult.

The second is battery life if you are doing multiple day trips.  You can get light handhelds that will run for days on a couple of AAs.  Managing batteries over long trip with phones is cumbersome.  Obviously this is only an issue for people doing multi day trips.

The older issues of waterproofs and cost have disappeared with the advent of low cost rugged phones.

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Much of the decision between using a GPSr vs Smartphone app is based on personal preference and monetary cost.  In regards to personal preferences, some things to consider are:

  • Screen visibility - For some, a GPSr screen is easier to look at than a smartphone. For me, I have to turn up the phone's brightness in order to read what's on the screen. The high brightness uses more battery. I don't see a glare problem with my GPSr's screen.
  • Buttons vs Touchscreen - Touchscreens, on phones or GPSr's, can get 'jumpy' if there are water droplets (rain) on them. That problem doesn't happen with GPSr's that use buttons. This is a big factor for me, as I often cache in the rain.
  • Screen size - Most smartphones have a larger screen than most GPSr's. There are times when I wish my GPSr screen was larger.
  • Durability - Some cachers have rugged smartphones and/or cases, so they don't worry about dropping them or laying them in the dirt or getting them wet. GPSr's are usually more durable 'out of the box' than most smartphones.
  • General fit - Some cachers find smartphones to be too big for one-handed operation. Personally, I find it easier to navigate the GPSr with one hand, whereas I usually need two hands for my phone (one to hold, the other to swipe).
  • Battery life - Some cachers can cache for an entire day with their smartphones and still have plenty of power left, while others have a dead battery before they've finished caching. Most GPSr's will last more than a day on a pair of AA's. There are external battery packs to charge a smartphone on the go, so that is an option. Personally, I find it easier to carry extra rechargeable AA's that I can quickly swap into my GPSr. Carrying a smartphone that's attached to an external charging pack is just cumbersome to me.

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There have been several GPSr vs Smartphone threads debating the benefits, or not, of using one type of device over another:

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In regards to the Geocaching Android app, the main advantage of using the app is the near-instant syncing with Groundspeak's databases/servers.

With almost all GPSr devices, maps and caches must be loaded ahead of time, and log entries must be uploaded as Drafts and then submitted in a separate step. Similar processes are required if smartphone apps are used without a signal (offline), but if the smartphone has a cell/wireless signal then such info can be accessed "live".

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22 minutes ago, noncentric said:

, and log entries must be uploaded as Drafts and then submitted in a separate step.

Not really.

I never use(d) drafts. At the cache, "log" on the GPS, when home connect GPS to PC, import geocaching_visits.txt in GSAK, write logs, add photographs, drop/retrieve/visit trackables and when done just hit "publish all". Sit back, relax and wait for all administration to be done. No website visits needed. ;)

I do have GDAK (API partner) on my Android tablet when out caching but only use it in case of emergency if anything changed between loading the GPS the evening before going out and getting stuck in the field or occasionally emailing a CO.  

 

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18 minutes ago, on4bam said:
37 minutes ago, noncentric said:

, and log entries must be uploaded as Drafts and then submitted in a separate step.

Not really.

I never use(d) drafts. At the cache, "log" on the GPS, when home connect GPS to PC, import geocaching_visits.txt in GSAK, write logs, add photographs, drop/retrieve/visit trackables and when done just hit "publish all". Sit back, relax and wait for all administration to be done. No website visits needed. ;)

Well, I didn't say that a website visit was needed. I said a "separate step" was needed. That step could involve the website or a 3rd party application (GSAK). In comparison, the official Geocaching app (assuming it has a cell/wifi connection) allows log entries to be submitted right away, without the need for any additional steps.

 

If your point is that "Drafts" is not the correct terminology, then okay - technically, preliminary logs saved to a GPSr are not called 'drafts' within the GPSr, but I don't think it's necessary to get into those specifics with a new cacher when it comes to the basic idea of a 'draft log' (eg, field note). For example, that the text file saved into a GPSr is "geocache_visits", not "geocaching_visits".

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14 hours ago, tmd135gg said:

We've always geocached with our android app. We were wondering what are the advantages of using a separate gps device?

 

See noncentrics nice thread list above, or search to find a never-ending discussion of pros and cons.  Everyone's in a different situation, and you can't say that any given phone or GPS is flawless, nor that either can't work.  If your phone is perfectly fine for you, stick with that.  And check out various Apps.  You've already found a bunch of caches, I'd say you're OK as you are.

But I bought a waterproof, shockproof phone specifically for Geocaching with the intention of getting a SIM card for it if I liked it. It arrived from the factory with two viruses installed in the operating system, with no way to remove them.  I had to shelve that idea.  I've had three handheld GPSs with no virus issues.  All my phones have locked up when I needed them in the field.  Locus Maps routinely shows me 100 miles from GZ and stays there – once I arrive in the hunt area, ready to find a cache.  Cachly fails to show the most important tiles of the map that I pre-loaded. It's what the Apps do, they have various major annoyances, after you thought for sure you had it all worked out this time.  I don't ever need that, and it's happened a lot.  I won't trust any “phone” in crunch time.  Plus, no App understands the concept of “data signal loss”.  If you venture out of the zone, it just sits there and waits.  I treat an offline GPS as if I will never have a phone connection (that's how it works), but I tend to become complacent with a “phone”.  I assume a constant data signal just like the App does. :cute:

I recently bought an HTC U11 phone and its precision is pretty bad.  Don't generalize about “phones”.  Some phones are suitable as phones.  I much prefer the ability of my Garmin Oregon to direct me to GZ.  You will see people here in the Forums insist that it takes all the fun out of it.  It is absolutely no fun to me to have to guess where the phone is pointing.  The Apps are weird, have layers of menus, and “cool” minimal interfaces that get in the way. I haven't found a fully configurable Geocaching App.  A Garmin Oregon (for example) can be set up to have buttons and custom displays exactly where you like.   I want to look for Geocaches, not poke around in an App.  Your mileage may vary. B)

As you see on hundreds of Phone vs. GPS forum posts, each has advantages and each has drawbacks.  But if you're in a cache-rich area, where you pre-loaded the caches on both a phone and GPS, and have a solid data signal, the devices may be used interchangeably.  That is, they can complement each other.  If you need to load more logs, or see a satellite map, or load a cache that just now popped up, the phone is what you want.  If you don't have time to mess with a misbehaving App, and just want guidance to a cache with a couple of clicks, that's a job for the handheld dedicated GPS.  And at the same time, you can do a PAF. :P
 

 

 

Edited by kunarion
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I seemed to have the same issues as kunarion with phones.  I still haven't found a phone that works as well as a GPSr for me, maybe because GPS is only one of numerous functions within it .  I do realize that some apps might help...   A handheld GPSr, well ... is simply made for GPS.  It's fact that battery usage is the biggest factor for most.  My long-discontinued model's good for days between batteries (alkalines, never did well with rechargeable either).  Add in shock/water-resistant without adding yet another gizmo to the device (rigging to make it work...), and a handheld GPSr is my go-to for caching.

 - But the other 2/3rds rarely uses her Garmins (and she has more than a few...) , instead relying on her iphone for most these days.  When we're in rock, or in a river gorge, her phone's put away. The rare time I'm caching  in town, I just follow her.  :D

For this hobby, I believe using both tools in combo a safe bet.   :)

 

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Great post, noncentric. Thank you. Added to the pinned FAQs atop this group. Let's all please refer new posters there.

On 3/13/2018 at 3:58 AM, noncentric said:

Much of the decision between using a GPSr vs Smartphone app is based on personal preference and monetary cost.

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Thank you to everyone who has taken the time and effort to respond. We have a much better understanding now of the options and the pros and cons of each.

 

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