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Apple iPad: your newest geocaching tool

December 13, 2010
iPad showing OpenStreetMap content

Image via Wikipedia

I recently got my hands on an Apple iPad to use as a work tool and was very interested to see what it was like and could it be used for geocaching.

My first impressions of the iPad were good – it has a fantastic interface and lots of very simple functionality. with over 300,000 apps there is a lot to keep you entertained. Its primary purpose is for work and I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of apps are available to make work more mobile than ever (DocsToGo, FileAppPro and MobileNoter to name just a few). Not to mention the fact that Angry Birds is available on the iPad and it is addictive and totally fun. But my main focus here is geocaching…

At this point I have elected to download three geocaching apps. The first is Geocache Viewer by NZM. This is a very simple application used for viewing geocache information from downloaded GPX files. All of the basic information is there is an easy to read format. The GPX upload tool was a dream to use and how to use the app was very clear. My only complaint is that the app may be a little too simple with not enough information or options. Of course I might be used to using GSAK and having all the power. But that does lead me to ask how much more information, beyond the basic, do we need? (the little addicted geocacher on my shoulder screams “WE NEED ALL THE INFORMATION…YOU STUPID MUGGLES…THE CACHE IS MY PREEECCCCCIIIOOOOUSSSSSSS!!!”.)

Sorry about that, he hasn’t been caching much lately.

The second app I downloaded is the IGCT Geocaching Toolkit. The app boasts a number of very useful tools for out in the field:

Waypoint Calculations
================
– Conversion of degrees, minutes and seconds to other formats
– Conversion between WGS84 and UTM coordinates
– For my Dutch friends the RD coordinates are included
– Also the Swiss grid is supported
– Show the entered Latitude/Longitude using the iPhone map application
– Project a waypoint by specifying distance and bearing
– Calculate distance and bearing between two waypoints
– Intersect two lines using two waypoints and bearings
– Intersect two circles using two waypoints and distances

Text Calculations
=================
– Calculate the sum of the character values in one or more words
– Choose between a=1, b=2 etc., the inverse a=26, b=25 etc. or the phonepad abc=2, def=3 etc.
– Also calculate the sum of all digits of the result
– Repeat summation of digits until 1 digit remains

Hint decryption
===============
– Decrypt encrypted hint text to plain text

Roman numbers
=============
– Convert between roman numbers and decimal values and vice versa

The third app, and my current favourite, is iPlunder HD. For me this was an app that truly delivered and not just because of the awesome pirate theme. It has a great interface and contained more information than Geocache Viewer (like Travel Bugs present in a cache). Best of all it has an excellent mapping function that shows you all of the caches in the filter on a google map. Was surprised me most when I took it out caching was that the app had saved the map data and had it available for me despite having no network access. At the point I looked it up I was a little lost and unsure of whether I was on the right road – using the app very quickly gave me an understanding of the roads in the area and I was back on track. This immediately made me think that this app would be an excellent tool to have on a big day of caching or when travelling along a route. A GPX of caches along the route would be easy to generate in gc.com and then exploring the route in iPlunder would mean that all the mapping you needed would be there. The large display makes it far easier to read than on your GPSr, whose batteries you can then save until you are closer to the cache.

Overall I found the iPad to be a dream to use and iPlunder, along with the Geocaching Toolkit, to be highly useful apps. Geocache Viewer is a little simple for my tastes but may be of use to those who have a basic GPSr and want to cache paperless. If you’re thinking of getting one I can highly recommend it!

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. December 13, 2010 9:36 pm

    After hearing Cumbyrocks rave about iPlunder, I’m now also keen to try it on my own (non-work related) iPad – when I can drag myself away from Angry Birds, that is.

    • December 13, 2010 10:38 pm

      It’s good to know my reviews have such a powerful effect on others. Now, if any GPS manufacturers reading this blog (I know you’re there!) want to send me a new GPSr to use and review…

  2. December 14, 2010 11:19 am

    Thanks for the favourable comments about Geocache Viewer. Nice to see some feedback.

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