Developer: Felix Lamouroux
Price: $4.99 Download on the App Store
Trails - GPS Tracker is designed to tell you where you've been, more than for where you're going like some other GPS apps for the iPhone 3G and 3GS. Bikers, joggers, motorists and even snow mobilers who wish to record their travels for record-keeping, journaling or other purpose will find this app useful. However, its main focus is on hikers.
First the basics: After launching the app, create a new track name and description and save it. Then, get going! Trails – GPS Tracker will start recording. You'll see where you've been and the direction in which you're headed on an OpenStreetMap map, which the developer, Felix Lamouroux, describes as “the Wikipedia for maps.”
You can chart your progress live in a variety of ways: speed, distance and duration, for example. You can also choose to view your track by road or terrain (topographically, in other words).
When your travels are done, you can export your recording via email as a GPX file; directly to EveryTrail.com, a free Web service where you can share and download tracks; or over Wi-Fi to TrailRunner, a free app developed for the Mac.
As a GPX file—short for GPS Exchange Format—you could, for example, open the file in Google Earth and view your track in 3D.
Under the app's Settings icon, you'll find four presets: jogging, hiking, biking and driving. Selecting one of them will vary the level of required tracking accuracy between 160 yards and 435 yards (or 150 meters and 400 meters). You also have the option to turn compass on/off, vary the map zoom levels, enter your email address or a login for Every Trail for one-button access, and quite a few other options.
Today, it was too cold to hike or bike, so I pulled the four-wheeled steed out of the garage and headed to the video store with Trails – GPS Tracker dialed in. My verdict: It is what it is. I recorded my route, with waypoints along the way to and from my house. I was able to take a phone call and stop and resume recording without a hiccup. It's a plain-Jane of an app, but quite functional.
The main issue I had is that Help is available online through the app only. After scrolling through Help, I wasn't able to close the Help screen by tapping the Close button. I had to quit the app instead. It was a consistent problem that I was unable to resolve. If you go directly to Lamouroux's Web site, you won't find any support to boot.
Three dollars and ninety-nine cents—which is what Trails – GPS Tracker sells for—is asking a lot for this app, especially with the annoying quirk and the developer's sparse Web site. It just doesn't stand up to the far nicer-looking and more functional MotionX GPS, which sells for only $2.99.