Product Review: iPhone Geocaching App
While I was at Dead Horse Ranch State Park this past weekend, I got the opportunity to try out the geocaching iPhone app. Now, I am not an owner of an iPhone personally (the only reliable cell phone carrier in my area is Verizon) so I had to rely on CodeWolf’s phone.
Now, when it comes to cell phones, I’ll admit I’m technologically challenged. I’ve had my new phone for over a week and STILL haven’t activated it yet! So, getting to play with an iPhone was a total treat.
CodeWolf had already purchased and installed the app before our trip. He has an iPhone 3GS (apparently the model of the phone matters!) He tells me that the app is $9.99 through the Apple Store. The name of the app that he bought is Geocaching by Groundspeak Inc. (Be careful, there are several apps available for the iPhone!)
We tested it out head-to-head against my Garmin GPS on the cache GCN473: Which Comes First?
I was really disappointed to say that the phone allowed him to find the hill top but was no where near the cache. It might work better in a very urban setting but on a hill top in a state park, well, not so much. The analogy I used was that we could find the parking lot but not the car.
However, the app had a redeeming quality after we found the cache and signed the log. CodeWolf was able to post his “Find” log FROM THE FIELD. I think that is totally cool! As somebody who often forgets to post finds for a few days, the ability to give on-the-ground updates about finds, needs maintenance, and DNF is super cool!
Here’s another feature that I really like:
When I’m planning a caching outing, I load the caches to my GPS ahead of time and print out the cache sheets. But, if I end up in a different area than where I expected, I have no way of looking up caches on the fly. But having the geocaching app on an iPhone solves the problem!
We were taking a look at kayaking a stretch of the Verde River and CodeWolf was able to pull up the caches near the put-in parking lot. Very cool! (We didn’t have time to GO after any, but it was neat.) Then, I would just take it from his cell phone and input it into my GPS and off we’d go.
It was also nice to be able to look up cache details from the field and not have to rely on memory or print outs.
However, the app REALLY sucked battery life. And it relies on cell phone towers so we weren’t able to look for any caches near Beasley Flat along the Verde River. (There are two caches at the parking area!)
Readers Weigh In:
- Do you have the iPhone geocaching app? Do you like it? What are the pros and cons of using it?
- Would you ever cache with JUST your iPhone? Why or why not?
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November 16, 2010 @ 8:56 pm
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April 4, 2011 @ 9:05 am
I just bought this app today, but played with the demo version a couple days ago. It worked really well and I’m looking forward to using this in the field.
The iPhone 4 includes GPS circuitry, so it SHOULD be able to work without cell signal. I need to confirm that before I use up my whole data plan though! After I bought the app, I turned off the Cell Data setting and it was still able to find my position via GPS, so I’m thinking I’m right.
As for sucking up the battery, you’re absolutely right! The MotionGPS-X app even includes a tutorial for maximizing your battery life (turning down brightness, turn off Bluetooth, WiFi, etc).
Best to bring a backup battery along!
Thanks for the review.