CacheCrazy.Com: iGadgets- Geocaching App For iPhone

Friday, May 11, 2012

iGadgets- Geocaching App For iPhone

About a month ago I stepped on over to the Dark Side, and purchased an iPhone.  It wasn't what I originally set out to purchase, as there were other phones I had eyed up, but I was familiar with the device, from dealing with them at work, so I figured it was the best way to go.  Besides, my top priority was ditching my current provider network and switching to a new one.  A jazzy phone was an added bonus.

On my previous smartphones I used an app called c:geo.  Seeing as c:geo is an Android app, it will do be no good on my iPhone.  I had no intentions of abandoning my GPSr in favor of caching exclusively with a smartphone, but I've found geocaching apps, and smartphones in general, provide several useful features:

  • On the fly, seat of your pants updates provide an advantage on an FTF hunt.
  • Depending on your GPSr, your cache description may be truncated, leaving out key information.  More often than not, having a smartphone app allows you to see the entire description.  As an added bonus, using the phone's web browser lets you see the cache page as it appears in all its glory.
  • A phone makes a terrific muggle decoy.
  • They're helpful with solving field puzzles.

After much deliberation, I decided to break down and purchase the official iPhone app.  The app is US $9.99 and can be purchased in the iTunes App Store.  The download was quick and painless.

The main search screen will show you the coordinates of the device's current location, complete with accuracy and ability to map the location.  You have the option to find nearby geocaches, do an advance search, search by GC code, or look at pocket queries.

Find Nearby Geocaches- tapping this option generates a list of the twenty closest geocaches, based on the devices current location.  You can expand the list at the bottom, in multiples of twenty.  There are options to save the caches to a list, be it a new list or existing, to sort the list, or to map the list.  Mapping the list is useful, as it will show you, in the form of a blue dot, your position relative to the cache or caches.  The cache list itself provides an overview of each cache, including cache name, type, d/t ratings, cache size, distance, GC code, favorite points award, and even if there's a trackable in the cache.

Tapping an individual cache takes you to the description page.  In addition to the coordinates, d/t rating, distance, size and date hidden/last found information, the menus allow you to navigate to the geocache, add the cache to a list, read the full description, see recent logs, read the hint, writes notes, view attributes, see inventory, view photos, or write a log or a field note.  You can also search for caches near the cache, view the description page as it appears on and view the cache on a third party map.

The "Saved" tab lets you view and search geocaches you've saved for online use.  For example, it may be beneficial to create a pocket query for a particular area, then save it for later use.

The "Logs" tab lets you view logs you've written, using the app.  There are sub-tabs for both logs you've sent and those waiting to be sent.

Lastly there is a tab for "Trackables."  Using this tab, you can view your trackable inventory, or search for a particular trackable.

The menu button allows you to change settings, such as which user you are logged in under, map source, search parameters and allows you to toggle your units of measurement.

I wasn't sold on this app at first.  I thought, perhaps, I flushed $10 down the drain.  My initial thoughts were that the app was cumbersome, I couldn't use pocket queries like I was used to, and in general, it wasn't a good value for the priced I paid.  I wasn't upset, though.  I still had my trusty PN-40 and know it's never failed me.  That said, there was a part of me which said to just try it out for a couple caches.  Maybe I'll end up liking it.

I've used the app now for about two weeks, and have probably found five caches, or so, with it.  I must say, the app is growing on me.  As with c:geo, it's great for "on-the-fly, seat of your pants" geocaching.  I enjoy the fact I can receive a notification of a new cache, in a text message, or view in an email, and clicking the link to the cache description page opens up the app.  With a tap or two, I can be en route to that next FTF.  Easy Peasy!

The mapping feature took some getting used to.  When searching for nearby caches when travelling, I always found the caches showing on the map were ones I've already passed.  I needed caches coming up down the road.  This was corrected by toggling a mapping feature on the map age which rotates the map.  This also helped me when searching for a cache, as I was becoming directionally challenged, in regards to orienteering my way to GZ.

In the end, I give the iPhone app a thumbs up.  It's never going to replace my GPSr as my official caching device of choice, but it's earned its place in my arsenal of tools.  It took a bit of getting used to, but I promise it's relatively easy to use.  It's also very fast!

Does anyone have experience using this, or other, geocaching apps for a smartphone or tablet?  If so, please share your experience!



I have an old fly rod that was handed down to me. I love the way it feels in my hand, it's action and original cork but. I don't use it for recreational or daily fishing. I only break it out for special adventures. Same goes for my GPSr. I like the way it feels, it's reliability and I know how to use it well. I am a c:geo user on my Droid too and have found several geocaches with it. I'm still kind of learning it but I love the convenience and versatility. I think smartphone's will be noted for a large part of the recent growth in our sport. You paid $9.99 for the app, I paid 199.99 for my GPSr, see what I mean? BUT, unfortunately some folks may never experience the true "feel" of a GPSr because of that and to me, they will be missing a part of the nostalgia and true grit of the sport. Just think, in ten years or so, some will never find an ammo can either. It will be all micro chips with scanable codes that lets you upload your swag and download your trade.
I'm tired.....
Dave, you just keep churning out one great article after another! Glad your on our team!

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

When Louie bought me my I pad last summer, the first app I bought was the geocaching one. I love it! I take my i pad with me everywhere, especially since we are in the truck so much on a daily basis for work. I use it all the time to find nearby caches. I usually have my caching bag with me too, so I just put the co-ords into my GPS for finding the cache, but for looking up a cache quickly - its the best. We pulled into a rest stop in KY. this week and Louie said to look and see if a cache was hidden there and sure enough, it was! Made my day!!

Anonymous said...

Personally, I use Geosphere for my iPhone geocaching. It's a lot better at handling multiple GPXs and has some pretty intuitive UI implementations, such as being able to switch from the cache description page directly to the map/compass and vice-versa using an icon on the bottom and not having to click the "Back" button and then having to reopen the map, wait for it to update your location, and then continue. I also like the ability to add multiple waypoints, assigning them a flag type, and being able to search the database specifically for that waypoint instead of seeking out the GC code it's related to first and then looking for it.

Kathleen Sharpe said...

I will use my iPhone App if I receive a notification when I am out and cannot access my computer. Generally I will use the app to find the cache but if I have trouble I will manually put the coordinates into my GPSr and use that for better accuracy.
What I really like the iPhone App for is dropping my TB's.. I can post a note and drop the TB right away. Very handy when I am on the road in case someone happens to come along and grab it before I have a chance to drop it...

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