Friday, August 5, 2011

Review - Cabela's Recon Hunt IPhone App: Part 1

I while ago I wrote a post on five IPhone apps every hunter needs. One of them was Cabela's Recon Hunt. I promised a full review, so here it is. This is a big app, so it is going to take more than one post to cover it.

When I first opened Cabela's Recon Hunt I was a little overwhelmed by all of its functions, and I couldn't figure out what they all did. Fortunately, there is a serviceable help section.

On the main screen there is a sliding menu that contains the following items:
  • Active Trip
  • Ballistics
  • Blood Trailing
  • Compass
  • Computer
  • Gear List
  • Guide Trip
  • Help
  • Map
  • Moon & Sun
  • Weather
There are also four static icons:
  • Online
  • Messages
  • Settings
  • Trips & Guides
The icons are big, which is nice, but the main menu is very sensitive. I found myself over swiping the icon I wanted. This is actually a big inconvenience and one of my biggest gripes about the app. In the field I need things to be as simple and easy as possible. I was getting frustrated at my desk trying to make a selection. I could see myself just giving up in the field.

Once you select the area you want to use the app gets much friendlier.

I'm going to start at the end of the menu and work backwards, just for fun.

When you click on the Weather icon it displays the five day weather forecast for wherever you are. You can select "today" and get detailed information on what the weather is right now. It is easy to change your location if you want to see what the weather is someplace else. 

The weather data is very simple. I would have liked an hourly forecast or radar image included. If you have an IPhone then you probably already have a better weather app, making this section unnecessary.

Moon & Sun
The Moon & Sun section shows you the rise and set times for the sun and moon. Plus it shows you the moon fazes. It automatically shows you this data for the place you are located, but you can easily change locations to see what the rise and set times are anywhere.

The sunrise page shows you the Sunrise / Sunset, Civil Twilight, Nautical Twilight, and Astronomical Twilight times. You can view both Sun and Moon times for any date in the future.

This is very important data for a hunter. I find myself using this section a lot.

The Map is the meat of this app. It is what makes Cabela's Recon Hunt amazing! The features on this map are on par with the highest end GPS units. Basically this app turns your phone into a $300 or $400 GPS unit (with one major flaw).

The Map shows your location over one of six types of maps.
  • None
  • Streets
  • Aerial
  • Hybrid
  • Topo
  • Terrain

Choosing the different maps is easy. Just select the layers icon and choose the map you want to view. The Arial and Topo are the most useful for me. Arial gives a very detailed top-down look at your surroundings. Looking for water? Easy to find. Looking for a clearing? its right over there. Topo gives you a topo map right at your fingers. If you can read elevation lines, this can be a great asset.

Of course, you have to have access to cell phone coverage to download these maps. Fortunately, you can preload them into your IPhone. Simply view the area you are going to be hunting in and the app will automatically save the maps for you. Pretty neat!

The map has a really cool way-point system. You set a waypoint by selecting "mark", create a "trip" (more on that in the next post), then you can choose from one of four types of waypoints; Photo, Video, Audio, or plain way-point. For instance. If I found a scrape and wanted to record where it was, I could take a picture of it and set the picture as a waypoint. Later, when I am out hunting, I just have to select that way-point and it shows me the picture I took of the scrape. Totally cool and useful!

It also has the standard tracking feature that shows you where you have been.

Sounds perfect right? Well there is one problem. The GPS quickly drains the IPhone's battery. You will get about 4 hours before the battery is totally dead. I cannot find a way to turn off the GPS from the app. It would be nice to be able to turn it on only when it is needed. As it stands the GPS is working whether or not you are viewing the map. You could be looking at the sunset times and the GPS would still be draining your battery. The only way to turn it off it to totally exit the app. This is a BIG drawback, making the tracking feature almost useless and making me only use the map when absolutely necessarily. The IPhone is my only way to call for help in an emergency. The battery cannot die. This is the apps biggest drawback

Well, I haven't gotten through even half of this app, so stay tuned for the rest of the review of Cabela's Recon Hunt!

DreamHost Promotional Code