Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review - MotionX-GPS iPhone App

As you all know by now I love my iPhone. However, I have had trouble finding the perfect GPS App. I have tried the Cabela's Recon Hunt the last few times I've been out. It has great functionality, but is confusing and frustrating to use in the field and it drains the iPhone's battery. Seriously, I get less than four hours of use with it on!

I've looked at a few others that either had limited features or were expensive. A few days ago I found the MotionX-GPS App. It is designed for hikers, bikers, boaters, geocachers, and the like, but meets the needs of hunters very well. The price point is reasonable at $2.99.

Before we get started with this review I want to make clear that no one paid me to do this review. I purchased the App with my own money and get no commission for Apps purchased from links from this site. I have no connections with the company that made MotionX-GPS. There, all done!

The Tracks are mostly reliable

MotionX-GPS has all of the features of any map for your iPhone.  It shows your position, allows you to record tracks, and save waypoints. These things have all been done before and are quite boring. Adding waypoints is easy . It gives you the option to pause and resume tracks, which is nice. The tracks are relatively accurate. When the GPS looses signal it tends to bounce the track line around a little. At one point it said I hiked through a lake.

Adding a waypoint is easy 
You can choose from an assortment of maps including terrain maps, satellite and aerial photos from both Bing and Google, and NOAA marine maps. Unfortunately, there is not a Topo map feature that I can find. It does allow you to download the map to your phone, allowing it to be used where there is no cell coverage. It even allows you to choose how detailed a map you want to download. This is super nice.

Notice the nice big buttons
It has two main menus, a "Search" and a "Menu". These menus overlap, each containing many the same items. I would have rather had just one big menu personally. The menus are easy to navigate and have nice big buttons. I'm not going to go through every feature, there are lots, but I will touch on the ones that concern hunters.

If you look closely you will notice lots of features I did not mention.
From the "Menu" menu you can start or load a track, set a waypoint, view the compass, sent your position to a friend, and set up "Live Updates" (more on this later). The "Search" menu mostly contains features that are neat, but are not useful for hunters. You have access to almost everything on the "Menu" menu plus the ability to look at and navigate to recent waypoints.

Why a compass when you have GPS?
Try navigating in a thick swamp where you can only see
ten feet each direction and you will see why!
MotionX-GPS does have some really nice features I have never seen on a GPS device. One is the ability to locate your position by triangulation from cell phone towers. Why is this nice? Sometimes due to storm, or heavy tree coverage it is impossible to get a GPS signal. This is basically a safety net. you wouldn't want to use it outside of an emergency, but in a pinch it could save you. It also has the ability to email your location to your loved ones every 5, 15, 30, or 60 minutes. This "Live Update" is an amazing safety feature. It will continue to broadcast your location even if you incapacitated for some reason. It will also Tweet or post on Facebook your position at predetermined time intervals, if you are into that sort of thing.

Lots of options to stay connected.
My favorite thing about MotionX-GPS is not its slick interface, or many settings and options, it is how efficiently it uses the iPhone's battery. I use about 10% of the iPhones battery an hour with this App. This is a vast improvement. I have no idea how they do it, but it works!

As of right now, this is the best GPS App I have found. It is easy to use, reliable, efficient,  and incorporates some wonderful safety features. It turns the iPhone into a GPS capable of handling some serious hunting and scouting.

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