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IR - ViewRanger App - Erin Foudy

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  • erinfoudy
    Hi Christopher, Here is my Initial Report for the ViewRanger App, it s been a learning experience so far. My text version is below and you can find the HTML
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2012
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      Hi Christopher,

      Here is my Initial Report for the ViewRanger App, it's been a learning experience so far. My text version is below and you can find the HTML version here: http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/IR%20-%20ViewRanger%20App%20-%20Erin%20Foudy/

      Thanks in advance for your time and edits!

      ~Erin

      ViewRanger App
      Test Series By Erin Foudy
      IR
      October 01, 2012

      Tester Info:
      Name: Erin Foudy
      Age: 31
      Gender: Female
      Height: 5'11'' (1.8 m)
      Weight: 150 lbs (68 kg)
      Email address: erinfoudyATyahooDOTcom
      City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona, USA

      Backpacking Background:
      I started backpacking while working for the National Park service ten years ago. I have been a backcountry ranger/law enforcement ranger and served on search and rescue crews. I typically take two or more camping trips a month, year round. I appreciate light weight, but am not obsessed by it. I often carry a 30 lb (14 kg) pack and stay out from three to nine days at a time. I also enjoy day trips with only water on my back. I take trips to Colorado and Montana in the summertime and enjoy the outdoors there as well.

      Product Information and Specifications:

      Manufacturer: Augmentra Ltd
      URL: http://www.viewranger.com
      Version: 3.3.0
      Size: 5.0 MB
      Languages: English, French, German, Spanish
      Language Tested: English
      Requirements: iPhone, Android, Symbian devices
      Mobile Device Tested: iPhone 4
      MSRP: $14.99 US


      Description:
      The ViewRanger App (hereafter referred to as ViewRanger, or the app) is a mobile app designed to turn certain smartphones or tablets into an affordable fully featured Outdoors GPS navigator. The app is compatible with most phones and tablets that use either Apple, Android, or Symbian operating systems and is accompanied by the ViewRanger website which is full of additional information and resources. ViewRanger, once installed on a smartphone, allows users to see their mapped location as well as track their path while hiking, running, cycling, boating, climbing, or flying. Not only does ViewRanger claim to track the user's path but also to record stats such as speed, distance, time, elevation, pace, and ETA. The app works both on-line and off-line, off-line meaning there is no mobile coverage. To use ViewRanger off-line the website instructs users to store maps on their smartphone so that the map may be viewed even when their phone does not have service. In addition to displaying the mapped location of the user, ViewRanger claims that users can access GPS enabled guided trails from outdoors book publishers Menasha Ridge & Wilderness Press, as well as create their own routes to save or share with the ViewRanger online community. If users are hiking with others who also have the app, or would like friends, family, or members of the ViewRanger community to be able to view their current location online, ViewRanger has what it calls, the "Buddy Beacon." The "Buddy Beacon" can be enabled to allow hiking partners to monitor each other's progress if separated, can be used more privately to allow only chosen individuals the location of the user with the use of a specific pin, or can be shared openly for the ViewRanger online community to view.

      Initial Impressions:
      My first impression upon downloading the ViewRanger App was, what a fantastic idea! I have never owned a GPS unit primarily because of the high cost of such products. The app turns my iPhone 4, which I already take with me on all hiking and backpacking trips, into a very affordable GPS. Upon further investigation into the features of the app I became a bit frustrated as the app does not come with much in the way of an orientation to the features of the ViewRanger. Not being familiar with all of the capabilities of a GPS and how to operate one, the ViewRanger proved to be quite the challenge. For assistance I turned to the ViewRanger website for help. The website turned out to be just as involved, hard to navigate, and not user friendly as the app itself. After logging in I was instructed to create my ViewRanger profile. I tried several times to enter all of the required information and to upload a picture, unfortunately I kept getting the message that my email was "not unique." I was never able to get the website to save my information and profile picture or accept any email address I tried. Even without a profile I was able to peruse other user profiles and even search for routes others had shared on the website. There were only three routes shared in the Tucson area and all of them were by the same individual. If this app were to become more widely used I could see this function becoming extremely useful, however, as of now it isn't quite what I had hoped for.

      I was able to plan a trip shortly after downloading the app to see how the ViewRanger performed in the field. I was pleased to see that I was able to insert the longitude and latitude of the trailhead and the app immediately located the precise location on the map. Once I arrived at the trailhead I was able to navigate through the app to begin recording the route. As I hiked I was able to easily view how far I had hiked, how l long I had been hiking, and view my exact location on a map. I really really enjoyed having this information readily available on my phone. It did have an effect on my phone's battery, I still need to learn more about ViewRanger and how I can better use the app while conserving the life of my battery. A couple of days after the hike I initially used the ViewRanger on I downloaded an update of the app that claimed to provide new GPS controls, including power saving options. I look forward to learning more about how to use the app fully with a greater understanding of all its functions. Due to my lack of prior knowledge about how to use GPS units I fear I may have more of a learning curve then others who have experience in this area.

      Summary:
      The ViewRanger App is a mobile app that enables my smartphone to be used as an Outdoors GPS navigator. ViewRanger has many helpful features including tracking, route saving, route sharing, and the ability to record stats at a very affordable price. For me this app was not the most user friendly as I am not that familiar with the use of GPS navigators. I also found the ViewRanger website not very easy to navigate and somewhat problematic. I am hopeful that with more time and use in the field that I will feel more comfortable using the app and will find it a valuable addition to my hiking kit.

      Pros:
      1. Affordable
      2. Helpful tools and maps
      3. Ability to share routes
      4. Ability to allow others to view location if you choose
      5. Ability to download routes
      6. New updates may improve battery life while using the app

      Cons:
      1. Not user friendly for those unfamiliar with GPS
      2. Website has some bugs and is hard to navigate
      3. Drains the battery on my phone
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