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Google My Tracks Puts GPS Training and Mapping on a Smartphone

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Google My Tracks GPS

Google My Tracks GPS

Fred Zahradnik

The Bottom Line

There are a number of good applications for the Apple iPhone3G that use GPS to track and measure your workouts. Fitness-minded users of Android operating system-powered smartphones, such as the T-Mobile G1, have been feeling some serious app envy. But Google has come to the rescue with "My Tracks" for Android OS phones. It's a free app - downloadable directly from the Android app store in a phone's menu - that provides a very useful and fun-to-use set of workout tracking, logging, and sharing features.

Pros

  • It's free.
  • Easy to use.
  • Upload and share your maps and stats.
  • Phone and workout tracking in one nice device.

Cons

  • Only works on phones using the Android operating system.
  • Not handlebar or wrist mounted - difficult to monitor stats screen.
  • Locates you on Google Maps, but no navigation features.

Description

  • See location and progress on a map.
  • Zoom and pan elevation profile.
  • Create waypoints, and segment training stats by waypoints.
  • Upload to Google Maps and Google Docs directly from the phone.
  • E-mail as a Google My Map link.
  • Tweet your map on Twitter using Twitroid app.
  • Stats tracked include current speed, distance, max speed, time, average speed (overall and moving), elevation, grade.

Guide Review - Google My Tracks Puts GPS Training and Mapping on a Smartphone

T-Mobile's G1 smartphone, which combines a large (3.3-inch diagonal) touchscreen with a tactile QWERTY keyboard has received terrific reviews. But users buy smartphones as much for their applications as for their features. The G1, and future phones powered by the Google Android phone operating system, now have a solid training app in Google's My Tracks.

I downloaded and installed My Tracks from the Android app store with no problems. The installation places a convenient My Tracks shortcut in the phone's apps menu. Once the app is installed, you can simply step outside, wait for your GPS satellite fix, then select "record track" from the simple menu system. From that point, My Tracks records your precise route using GPS, including time, distance, and elevation data. It doesn't matter if you're running, cycling, walking... the data is logged. You can note the workout type when you save the log.

When you finish your workout, simply stop recording, and you can quickly and easily review your route map, elevation, profile, and workout stats. Switch between views just by tapping on-screen icons. You may also upload your workout to Google Maps directly from the phone with the press of one menu button - a great convenience compared to upload routines that require a USB link to a personal computer and/or special software.

Disadvantages? You can locate yourself on a map, but the software doesn't provide directions to a destination, as do some higher-end dedicated fitness GPS devices. Also, even though the display provides real-time stats, it's not easy to view your stats on the move, because it's not mounted on a handlebar or your wrist - it's a phone after all.

On the plus side, you can cover your communication, emergency, and workout logging needs with one device, rather than two or three. Overall, a very nice app for "Google phone" users.

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