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Monday, November 29, 2010

Google's "My Tracks" app for Android

Ever wonder how far and where you walk during the day?  Have you ever wanted to map a hike, a running trail, or even a bike route to share with your friends?  Check out Google’s application for Android phones called “My Tracks”.  
I downloaded My Tracks after stumbling across it on the Internet while searching for cool Android apps for my new phone.  It also happened to be the beginning of hunting season for me so I had a great opportunity to test it out.  After loading “My Tracks” I fired up the GPS on my phone and headed out for a day of hunting.  Before long (and this is typical for me) I was way out in the woods and not entirely sure where I was in relation to everything else.  Remember...there is a BIG difference between being lost and simply not knowing where you are.  I simply wasn’t sure where I was.  So...I hauled out my phone...opened up the “My Tracks” screen which had already been recording my “walk in the woods”...and voila!  There I was.  Since “My Tracks” is a Google product which integrates with Google Maps, the software allows you to use either the traditional maps layer or you can also use the satellite layer.  Since I was using the satellite layer I was able to quickly tell where I was in relation to everything else and therefore, point myself in a better direction to get to where I needed to be.  As with Google Maps, you can zoom in and out to get a better look at your surroundings.  

When the day was done, I was able to share my map with others.  I had been hunting with my father, son, and some family friends.  Before heading out we each had our “routes” and had intended to keep the person next to us in sight.  As usual, that quickly dissolved into several people wandering alone in the woods as we become separated while finding easier places to walk or get into heavy underbrush which limits our visibility.  Sure enough, a couple of hours later I had no idea where anyone else was much less myself.  In fact, on the map below you can see my little “course correction”.  When my father asked, “Where were you?”  I was able to quickly show him on my phone exactly where I walked, but not only that, I also was able to upload my “Tracks” to Google Maps to share with him later.  “My Tracks” will calculate distance, elevation change, and even the time and speed.  

If you are hiking, biking, sightseeing, hunting or whatever, you may find Google’s “My Tracks” to be a very useful piece of software.  I wish I’d had it when I made my 600 mile weekend motorcycle trip around Maine in mid-October...oh well.  It would have been nice to be able to show my friends everywhere I went.  As soon as spring hits, I plan to use “My Tracks” quite a bit to keep track of my adventures on the road!  Visit the “My Tracks” site ( or grab the application from the App Market on your phone.  It’s VERY cool and you’ll find many interesting ways to use it.  Be sure to share your discoveries in the comments...have fun!

View Chesterville Hunting in a larger map


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