Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Locations in Time

iTrakMe's core functionality is in its trail or GPS recording ability.  Pressing the Start buttons starts recording and new locations are saved as you walk, bike, or drive your car. When you stop recording iTrakMe will prompt you to save or discard the trail. 

iTrakMe also makes it easy to resume a trail, say, when you take a phone call and quit the app.  Restart the app and click the Start button and iTrakMe will ask if you want to resume the most recent trail.  Resuming will continue the previous recording that was interrupted.

With the full feature version you can retrieved elevation levels for each saved location.  This is interesting in its own as it gives you a 3-D recording of your trail but is most important when calculating Calories expended. Yes, the Elevation data is used to calculate "stair" Calories (if walking) or uphill Calories (if bike riding).  To turn on elevation press the "action" button (upper right hand corner) and then the Settings option.  Scroll down until you see the Elevation Data switch and turn it on.

While you're in the Settings view you may (or may not) want to turn off the GPS sound effect.  I like it but your walking buddy may start to find it annoying. Alternatively, you can turn down or turn off the sound using the physical button on the side of the iPhone.

While recording, GPS points are saved as long as the new point arrives at a minimum distance from the last saved point.  The  minimum distance between points is determined by the activity, so for example, setting the activity to walk will cause iTrakMe to save a GPS point every 10 meters.

walk/run10 meters (30 feet)
mountain bike30 meters (90 feet)
road bike50 meters (150 feet)
car100 meters (300 feet)

Helpful Hint:  iTrakMe uses the iPhone's built-in GPS receiver to record location and while generallly very good and very accurate its initial operation after starting the app may be somewhat inaccurate. You can tell if this is the case because either the blue dot on the map is not where you actually are or that the accuracy bubble about the blue dot is large (over 100 meters).  When this happens you may need to wait for a few seconds for the iPhone to calculate a more accurate value. And if you just started recording simply discard that trail and start recording again.

Each saved location also includes a timestamp so that other derivative information like speed and Calories can be calculated.  All of this data is "real-time" and can be view as you move by toggling the Info button in the upper left hand corner of the main view.  There are a couple of things to note about the info view.  First a metric/feet "measuring stick" is drawn in the upper right hand part of the map to help you determine distances at the current zoom level.  Secondly - and only if you are recording - an info view is displayed showing you starting time, duration, distance, speed, elevation, and Calories burned.  You can customize this info view to some extent by showing only the values that interest you.  Again, the Settings view will provide a list of switches that you can modify to do this.

Finally, all of those saved trails can be accessed by clicking the "action" button (upper right hand corner) then clicking the "All Trails" item.  This will show a list of all trail recordings from most recent to the oldest.  Selecting the one you want to view will display the trail and all of its saved data.  There is quite a bit to this view so I will cover it in detail in a later post.

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