GeoBeacon: Garmin Chirp – on an iPhone (or iPad)

A couple weeks ago (July 20), a new app quietly popped up in the  App Store by Pi-Soft Consulting. These are the guys who brought us the Wherigo player for iPhone which later became Groundspeak’s official Wherigo App for iPhone. The new app is called GeoBeacon …. it enables another technology that is used for geocaching, namely Garmin’s Chirp beacons.

The $1.99 app requires you to purchase a $80 Fisica key before you can use it. These are sold as Wahoo Fisica (pictured above), or you can also get the one from Digifit. This adds the important Ant+ technology to your iPhone, since the iPhone doesn’t have it built in.  Once you have the app and the Fisica key, you simply open the app and use it to locate … or even program a Garmin Chirp. I have seen the Fisica key at Mountain Equipment Co-Op, might be a good spot to check before you import one from the USA.

The app can read a Chirp, program a Chirp, plot Chirp waypoints on a map. It’ll show you all the details including the number of visitors and when the last visit was, plus the run time and battery condition. One nice touch is the app will store lots of Chirp data rather than overwriting it immediately like the Garmin units do if another beacon comes in range.

The Fisica key is also useful outside the GeoBeacon app, so don’t feel like you’re spending $82 just to find a Chirp cache (though it is less than the average Garmin GPS with Chirp costs). I also use the Fisica key with my Garmin Heart Rate Monitor to keep track of my runs with RunKeeper.

Here’s a few screen shots from the app:

Connecting to a Chirp

Here the beacon data is being read. It's kinda neat how it "paints" in bit by bit.

Here's a detail screen that you get after the data is loaded. See the battery status?

Chirp details plotted on the map. Leave it to Pi-Soft to include the map view.

 

[ GeoBeacon (iTunes) ] [ Garmin Chirp ]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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iPhone Geocaching App gets big update

Well, Groundspeak has updated the iPhone app again. But this update is significant – it’s the first one to use the new Geocaching API and it shows. The immediate benefit is that the app is a little quicker and there is a new “Advanced Search” screen that lets you filter like crazy. You can turn on / off certain cache types, set a range for difficulty or terrain, pick certain sizes and … drumroll here …. you can filter caches that up to four of your geocaching friends have already found. How’s that for curing those “which cache is next?” arguments at the car!

Some teaser screen shots:

The GC app will update it's database the first time you run it. Signs of big changes

... and you'll have to re-authenticate due to the API

New Authentication Dialog

The API authentication is similar to apps like Twitter and Facebook now. See that "Allow Access" button?

Advanced Search Screen

Hidden at the bottom of the Advanced Search screen, you can filter out caches four of your friends have already found.

Head on over to the app store to get the update (or buy it).

From Groundspeak’s release notes:

Updates include:

  • New Advanced Search to filter by location, cache type, difficulty/terrain, keyword, exclude your finds, exclude finds for up to 4 friends, and Premium caches
  • Sync Personal Cache Notes between the website and your iPhone
  • Create multiple offline cache lists to plan outings; useful when you may be travelling outside network coverage
  • Download Pocket Queries to the iPhone to view cache details, images, and map tiles offline
  • Numerous bug fixes to address performance and reliability

[ Geocaching App for iPhone ] [ Release Notes ]

 

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PiGo becomes Official Wherigo App for iOS

PiGo, the Wherigo Player for iOS devices by Pi-Soft Consulting has been updated. Now it is no longer a guessing game with Groundspeak’s site changes. The app is the official WheriGo player for iOS devices, and supports uploading unlock files to the Wherigo site. The app has even been renamed “WheriGo” on the iTunes store. Those of you who were using the app from the start might remember that was it’s original name until Groundspeak spoke up. Turns out, Groundspeak liked it so much they made it official.

What I know is that playing WheriGo cartridges on my iPhone for the last 8 months has been far more enjoyable than it was on my Garmin Colorado … mainly due to the apps ability to show me a map screen.  

This should bolster Wherigo’s appeal to Geocaching players, and keep the game going in the future – regardless of Garmin’s GPS support.

[ Wherigo for iOS ]

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Garmin Launches Official OpenCaching Clients for iPhone and Android

When OpenCaching.com launched, one of the big questions on everyone’s mind was – Will Garmin support non-Garmin devices on the site? Today we have an answer: Yes, yes they will.

Garmin has launched official geocaching clients for the OpenCaching.com site today for iPhone and Android based devices. Since I use an iPhone, the screenshots are from that version. All the usual features one would expect are here in the app.

You can lookup caches (50 at a time), navigate to them via map or compass, log them or …. hide caches. Yes I just said hide caches. While Groundspeak has the idea of hiding a cache with your smartphone  ”under consideration” (or do they?) … , Garmin – a GPS company – is enabling people to create or even publish caches from their smartphones while in the field. The app does indicate position error when grabbing the co-ords, but it remains to be seen whether we’ll see a lot of inaccurate placements, better than expected smartphone GPS performance, or simply people using the app to mock up their cache listings to be finished later. There’s nothing stopping a person from submitting this as a “Draft” to OpenCaching then just copying that info over to Geocaching.com as well.

The app also includes a “Guide” so you have the Opencaching guidelines right there in the field. Handy when you’re thinking about a placement, and aren’t sure if that would be allowed.

Multi caches are supported as well, you can create additional waypoints for a cache from the compass screen – click the waypoint symbol with the + on it in the top right, and carry on caching.

You can mark caches as Favorites (not Favourites in Canada ….) and you have a “Logbook” icon where you can see all your log entries to date.

The app is free (vs $9.99 for Groundspeak’s) but that is to be expected when the site is trying to get a foothold in the market. Links to OpenCaching.com downloads are at the end of this article. Try it out, see how you like it. Compare it to Cache Me if you use iPhone

Some screenshots from the App:

OpenCaching: Prep for the hunt

OpenCaching: Map Search

OpenCaching: Cache Details

OpenCaching: Filter

OpenCaching: Nav by Map

OpenCaching: Nav by Compass

OpenCaching: Log a Cache

OpenCaching: Share a cache

OpenCaching: Hide a Cache

OpenCaching: Hide a cache - Coordinate Entry

[ Garmin OpenCaching iPhone ] [ Garmin OpenCaching Android ] [ Garmin OpenCaching Blog Post ]

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Wanna go caching with a WiFi-Only iPad? Pair it with an iPhone 4

According to Engadget reports, those of you who bought the WiFi only iPad are not completely out of luck. Provided you’ve got an iPhone 4 running iOS 4.3, and your carrier allows Personal Hotspot.

While there are iPad devices with 3G Radios that can use location services, I’m referring to the less expensive version with no cellular capabilities. The GPS functionality on the iPad is provided by the 3G chipset – so if you have the WiFi iPad, you’ve no doubt realized how terrible location services that rely on WiFi triangulation can be – particularly in a place like Canada.

What the Engadget readers have noticed though is pretty cool if it’s true. Let’s say you bought the WiFi iPad because you already own an iPhone.  Since last week’s iOS 4.3 update, you can skip the 3G on your iPad because of the new Personal Hotspot functionality. You can use your iPhone’s internet connection over Wifi from your iPad.

Here’s where it gets really cool: The iPhone is also sharing it’s location data with the iPad. As in the GPS chip data. So, if you want to go geocaching with a 9.7 inch display, you can. There are some problems with 3rd party applications using the location data, but that’s hit and miss.  The Maps app works for sure, so worst case you can load up the cache in Geosphere and use it’s Show in Maps App function to get around that problem.

Just make sure you put an Otterbox Defender case on that iPad before you hit the Bruce Trail with it.

[ Engadget ]

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Apps: PiGo Updated to 1.2.3

PiGo, our favourite iPhone app for visiting Wherigo caches (and Wherigo adventures) got a minor update last night. Notable improvements include auto-saving timing, and improved compatibility for cartridges. One of the fixes includes improved support for CurrentDistance and CurrentBearing functions [Source: Earwigo WWB Developer List]

[ PiGo (iTunes) ]

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Deal Alert: Glider Gloves

If you go caching with a modern smartphone, chances are it has a capacitive display. Capacitive displays require your skin to actually touch the screen, so they don’t work well with gloves on. If you have been out caching in Ontario over the last few downright bone-chilling days, and writing logs on your iPhone/Droid or what-not – well, you may be missing an index finger or two. The solution to this is gloves that weave capacitive material into them.

There are a few companies with solutions, and there’s a Canadian solution (of course)  – that is Brampton based Glider Gloves. I bought a pair of these for my wife and they work very well. Teambuy.ca, which is similar to Groupon but more aimed at Canadians has a deal going on their site for these gloves – $15 including shipping (normally $24.99 + shipping) so if you are looking this is the time to jump on the deal, which expires in two days.

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PiGo Wherigo Player for iPhone Updated

PiGo Update Screen 1.2.1 PiGo Screen

PiGo, the Wherigo player for iOS has received a minor update tonight that corrects a login issue. The login issue was a problem with cookies that prevented users from downloading Wherigo cartridges from within the app.

When downloading cartridges to PiGo, you should select the “PocketPC” version. Cartridges can be downloaded from within the app, or you can download on your computer and transfer them using iTunes.

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Pro Tip: Solve Sudoku Puzzles with Google and your iPhone

Google Goggles Sudoku SolverGot an iPhone? Hate Sudoku puzzles?
Well, Google has an app for you! Today’s update of the Google Mobile App for iPhone now adds a Suduko puzzle solver to the application. Literally, all you need to do is start up the Google Mobile App, aim the camera at the Sudoku puzzle in question and tap “Solve”. Within a few seconds Google will take all the work right out of that Sudoku puzzle you just encountered at stage 3 of that diabolical multi. No word on Kakuru puzzles yet though.

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Geocaching App for iPhone Updated to 4.2.2

Geocaching App for iPhone 4.2.2 Geocaching 4.2.2 Release Notes

The Groundspeak Geocaching App has been updated to version 4.2.2

This addresses the memory leak problem from iOS 4.2 (and 4.2.1) that caused the app to be very laggy.  According to the release notes, it also corrects issues with the app locking up when being restored from background or lock.

There is another issue with usernames with apostrophe’s in them that is corrected.

If you’re running iOS 4.2(.1) on your device, it’s a pretty good idea to run this update. I used it for my geocache outing tonight and it does seem quite improved.

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