Any suggestions regarding iPhone "GPS" app

I have had too many reliability issues with my Garmin 78sc handhelds and am thinking of adding an iPhone mapping app. I don’t need too many features. The attribute that I can think of that would be selling or sticking points are (A) speed in tenths of knots or mph (preferably in big enough font that my eyes can see them without getting out my glasses), (B) easy to add waypoints (like tapping on the screen or entering current location at the touch of a button), © and use of cellular rather than GPS signal unless there IS no GPS signal as I hear GPS signals use battery very fast. My main use would be to check my speed when trying different strokes and in different conditions and as a navigational aid to get me back to the launch point if my eyes, memory and other cognitive skills aren’t doing the job. So just something that would show my position on a map. I don’t know if I prefer raster or vector charts, and I don’t really understand how a subscription service works but it doesn’t on the face of it sound appealing.


I suggest you try MotionX-GPS. I’ve been using it for a couple years and find it to be fast, reliable and easy to use.
I don’t use it to it’s full potential so I’m not sure if it does everything you want, but here is their website with information on the program:
You can download at Apple’s App Store for $1.99.

The Navionics app is great.

The accuracy of cell signal triangulation is somewhere around 3/4 mile. Location by network access location is even less predictable. Use the built-in GPS for what you describe. Plan ahead for the battery usage and/or get a cheap (or expensive) power bank if you’re away from the grid. On longer trips, solar recharging may work. Though I’ve just learned to navigate without it and take minimal photos.

I don’t know if Back Country Navigator is available for iOS (I’ve only used Android myself), but it’s great and free or inexpensive.

In my iPhone, I log my trip using Endomondo. The cellular communication to continuously send back my position to Endomondo’s server takes more power than the GPS does. I can extend battery life considerably by only using the GPS and setting the phone in flight mode.

So don’t be afraid of using GPS.

I use Motion X also, for about four years now. Can connect to a bluetooth heart rate monitor for workouts too. I’ve cached marine maps for use when there is no cell signal. Has some nice features.

Monkeyhead, what reliability issues are you having with your GPSMap78sc? I have 2 of them and use them in the long Watertribe races, and have yet to have one fail since the model was released. That said, I bag them in an Aquapak with a dessicant packet. Not much of a hassle but makes the screen hard to read at certain sun angles.
Those that use them “naked” seem to have fairly significant failure rates.


Greg, with both Garmin and Delorme, I have frequently had fogging on the inside of the screen that makes it impossible to see. For one of the Garmins, I sent it back to the manufacturer after which they returned it saying it seemed OK to them so they couldn’t do anything about it. I’ve tried a couple of things to get around this but to no avail. I’ve never had that sort of an issue with a smartphone. Also, now with my GPSMap78sc, it seems that the battery is draining way too fast (like new batteries going below the threshold at which the unit operates within an hour). I generally bag my Garmin but when actively using it, I usually take it out of the bag and let it rest, tethered, on my sprayskirt.

Another piece of ‘anecdotal’ evidence for the Garmin.
I also have 2 GPSMap78sc’s (since '12, 76c’s prior to that)
I always have it on when paddling (log all paddling, save tracks), about 28.7K miles with the 78’s
I always keep it in a dry bag (Sea to Summit TPU - Large).
Agree, sunlight in certain angles make it very difficult to read.
Twice, I’ve had it overheat in bag (very hot & sunny day). I put gps below to cool off, it then worked.
Since then, when it starts getting hot, I cover the gps bag with a little towell (wet or not) (leaving ‘screen’ to view). No problems now.
(my only complaint about the 78s vs the prev 76 is the Tide calculator - you can’t put in a date (eg a month from now), you have to ‘walk’ it day by day to the date you want to see. (unless someone out there can tell me how to enter a date to see the tide) )

Navionics app is great

Endomondo I use

Monkeyhead, I’m getting over 24 hours (continuous) of battery life per GPSMap78sc and have been very happy/impressed with battery life with lithiums – I generally leave one GPS on constantly during a race, and switch to the backup when the batteries die (rather than try to swap batteries on the water).

Just some tips: turn the backlight off when you don’t need it, otherwise have it as low as necessary, ensure that the Menu->Setup->System->Battery Type is correct for the batteries you are using (lithium, alkaline, NiMH (rechargeable). Some people report that turning the electronic compass off also helps.

FYI for the desiccant packets I like the new ones that show you when they are expired by changing color. Desiccant packets don’t last as long as you think they do. The following are advertised as rechargeable (in an oven) but I haven’t tried that:

I haven’t had one overheat, even in steamy Florida – but have had my cell phone overheat more than once.


@gstamer said:

FYI for the desiccant packets I like the new ones that show you when they are expired by changing color. Desiccant packets don’t last as long as you think they do. The following are advertised as rechargeable (in an oven) but I haven’t tried that:

You mentioned them earlier this year so I tried them. I’ve got the Dry & Dry packs that turn from blue to pink. I’ve been using two in each of my Aquapac cases for phone and iPod Nano. Mine are turning purple at around six hours. I toss the (spent) pink ones in a bowl until I have 10 or 15 ready for the microwave, then recharge them on the defrost setting until they’re dark blue again. Then they’re stashed in an airtight container. $10 for 50 packs is a good deal since you never run out and I like the recycle concept.

Thanks for the tip!

Any of the silica gel packets are “rechargeable” (by removing water with heat), but the colour change definitely makes for a better experience.

Some silica gel packets are in flimsy paper envelopes that probably won’t survive many cycles reheating them (200-250 degrees in the oven or microwave on defrost). IMO it’s worth the money paying for color indicating silica gel in packaging designed for reheating.

@gstamer said: The following are advertised as rechargeable (in an oven) but I haven’t tried that:

All desiccant packets using silica gel pearls are rechargeable in an oven at 120 °C (248 °F). You just have to watch out for the paper/plastic bag the pearls are packed in. I have had some of them opening up because the glue in the bag melted,

After the glue incident, I usually put them in the oven at 90 °C (194 °F) and then weigh them on a scale every few hours. When they stop dropping weight, they are dry. (I use quite large packets, 25-100 gram, so I can weigh them on a normal food scale.)

After some time of use, weigh them again. They can absorb water up to 35% of their weight, but the more they have absorbed, the less efficient they get. I recharge them when they have absorbed 20% of their weight.

(I am a strong advocate of these packs. I use them not only for electronics, but also for spare clothes, etc. Over time, everything in a bag in a sea environment will become damp, and it is really nice to be able to open a bag of clothes which has been in the kayak for months, and it doesn’t smell.)