Gaia GPS in Review – Finding adventures

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Ever get that feeling that despite your excellent (or perhaps because of your terrible) map-reading skills, you’re lost? You read the map, you check your GPS, but you still want a second opinion? Maybe you live for exploring, and want to record your outings and mark the places you’ve been to. Trail Behind’s new iPhone app, Gaia GPS, might be just what you’re looking for.

You might think to yourself “Why do I need a GPS app, my iPhone’s built-in one works just fine”. To answer this, we have to know a little about Trail Behind. They’re a start-up with a love for camping, hiking, and all that fun exploring stuff. In fact, Gaia GPS is the only app in the store right now that features MyTopo, fantastic topographical maps. But it’s not just for hiking junkies: street maps, too are included. Some features such as GPS recording are understandably not available on iPod, and the compass is only available for the 3GS, though this doesn’t make this app any less useful for 3G owners.

I’ll be honest. I have a terrible sense of direction. In my first field test of the app going to pickup someone at a school, I missed the entryway by a whole street. I didn’t have good instructions or even the name of the school, just a set of vague directions. I recorded the trip using the app’s GPS Recorder which recorded every turn.

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The first screen in the app shows your location, heading/direction (N, S, E & W), and your altitude. The app conveniently allows you to choose between both Imperial or Rebel Metric by pressing the wrench. You can also toggle sounds, and the accuracy of the GPS. Doing so will result in less of a battery drain.

The four buttons on the right are for recording your trip, place marking your location, taking a photos and linking them to that place, and locking the screen. The screen lock option features a screen dimmer which helps conserve battery. Messing with the brightness settings will allow your battery to last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. Pressing the second button on the lower edge of the screen will bring up a large map mode, which allows you to search for notable places such as parks, airports, monuments, and more. This is a core feature of both the Trail Behind app and its website.

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The third icon will bring up a list of these places, and allow you to search for them, map them, get directions and email it to someone. It tells you how far away it is, the coordinates, and the elevation.

The fourth icon brings up all your recorded trips, place-marks and photos. Here you can choose to clear them or export them. Overall a handy place to look at the progress you’ve made on a hike or on a trip while on vacation. The last panel is for contacting the developers. Be sure to drop a thanks if you love the app, I know I already have.

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For $2.99, Gaia GPS is hard to beat. I hope the developers can keep the price of this app there, as it clearly beats out other apps which only have a small set of the functionality of this app. A list of upcoming features available on the app description such as spoken directions and others make this app worthwhile in the long run. Although it shouldn’t be used as your sole means of navigating the wilderness of even the suburbs, this app makes an excellent companion to any iPhone user’s travel kit.

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App Summary
Title:Gaia GPS (v1.0)Developer:TrailBehind
Price:$2.99App Size:2.4 MB
  • Large set of features at a low price
  • Large directory of placemarks
  • Only app with MyTopo maps
  • Compass only on 3GS
  • Directions not available in app yet, subsequent versions should have it

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