Any GPS Apps for iPhone?

-- Last Updated: May-27-10 8:12 AM EST --

I'm due for a phone upgrade and think I will be going to the iPhone 4G next month when they are on sale. Are there any GPS systems (not car/direction apps) for trails, topo, coastal, waterways, etc? This way I can incorporate it into the iPhone and not have to buy another device.

MotionX is fun
Power hungry though.

I’m sure there’s others.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Motion X
Is the one I use as well

I use RunKeeper Free. I’m not familiar with MotionX (I’ll check it out) but one thing I like about RK is you can set different activity types and view statistics based on those types (I keep track of paddling, snowshoeing, hiking and cycling). Activities are uploaded to, where you can log in and view your history, routes, etc. I think the pay version includes training functionality as well as custom reports, none of which I’m particularly interested in.

iphone app check it out

– Last Updated: May-27-10 11:49 PM EST –

totally awesome kayak game

two rowing apps that can be useful



GPS app
the only app I’ve purchased for my phone is the Gaia GPS. It allows downloading of topo maps for Alaska, and other states of course, which one can use when out of cell range. This opens up the entire Inside Passage to me regardless of if we can catch a cell tower. I’ve also used it in western Alaska – downloaded the area before traveling. Works well in D.C. and Chicago too, and there gives streets.

Bear tracks?
Never used it but have heard two of the guys I paddle with brag on Bear Tracks for Iphone.

Is it real GPS?
I have a 3G iphone and concluded it isn’t real GPS. That’s based on the fact that the “GPS” apps are useless, actually go kind of crazy, when you are off network. Seems like if they were actually using the GPS from satellites they’d still know where they were when off the network, even though they might not be able to pull down maps.

Seems to me the iphone is calculating your location in proximity to cell towers rather than acquiring your position from satellites.

I used runkeeper free and hiked off the network. When I came back to the network at near the point I left off it showed me going a hundred miles in a straight line at about 1000 mph to somewhere in BFE. Runkeeper is a pretty cool app though, but does chew through battery.


I really hope…
the next generation iPhone has a removable battery so it can be swapped out on the go.

Thanks for all of the good information. Really hoping I can use the iPhone GPS instead of getting a dedicated one although the current REI sale has the Garmin 60CSX on sale for $200 which is tempting!


– Last Updated: May-28-10 7:30 PM EST –

This is a great application and I've been using it for years. It lets you cache topo quads and recall them even when you have no cell reception. It does a good job of putting a dot on the map showing your current location.

It came in handy trying to navigate the logging roads in Maine trying to find the put-in for the Machias. I'm not sure we would have found it without it.

iPhone 3G GPS isn't great for showing your current speed and things like that, but it's good enough to show your location. I wouldn't use it for tracking functions because GPS kills the battery.

RE: is it real GPS?
I had my doubts about the efficacy of the iPhone GPS until I got the GAIA app and paddled out of cell range along Stephens’ Passage here in Southeast Alaska. It works off grid and works amazingly well with the downloaded maps.

Guess the GPS is better than my apps
Thanks, Umnak. I guess I need to get different applications. And Swimman, there are after market products to address the batteries, including a powerpak that lasts something like three or five times longer and a solar charger for outback use. I only vaguely know about them because some folks posted info here in response to my belly achin over the battery life. Maybe you can still find if you search.


iPhone Battery Life

If you want to conserve battery life on the iPhone try turning off location services and disabling 3G. It makes a huge difference, though you won’t be able to show a track on the gps with location services off. I also keep my phone on airplane mode in marginal cell coverage so it stops searching for a cell.


bigger problem
I phone is NOT water proof, many GPS’s are. also I phone uses cell phone towers for location data, its not a TRUE GPs so it wont work when you dont have cell phone reception… real GPS will work anywhear…

Why would you want to do that?
With so many very good and very cheap GPS’s out there (10x better than the iPhone GPS capabilities), why would you want to use your iphone for that purpose?

Very low battery light, poor performance,…

Just my two pennies

Iphone GPS Apps
If you want watersystems maps Navionics (they make Lowrance and Eagle sonar units) has some pretty cool apps for the iphone/ipad that have all lakes for certain regions for about 10 bucks a region. Some have more info than others depending on the water’s popularity.

The reason some of these apps go crazy when you go off the network is that the maps it uses are downloaded as needed, if you don’t have network, you don’t have a map.

The better GPS apps (and more costly) download all the maps ahead of time so that isn’t an issue.

Also as far as water is concerned for about $13 I bought a water proof floating bag for my iphone that still lets you use the touchscreen through the plastic. I got it at a big-box sporting goods store (Academy) but I’ve also seen them on Ebay and Amazon.

I use motionx when I’m just out and about and have coverage though and its pretty nice, you can access itunes, and your camera with it running to take pictures of your trek.