Updated 2/14/14– Version 2.0 of the Appalachian Trail app is ready for you! PCT and JMT will be ready in a few days.
The 2014 versions of Guthook’s Pacific Crest Trail Guide and Appalachian Trail Hiker iPhone apps are now done, just in time for this year’s hikers to hit the trail. I’ve been working on this latest upgrade since September, and it’s just as drastic a change from last year’s apps as last year’s were from the previous year’s. Here’s a run-down of the major upgrades. (Many of these will be added to the Android apps soon, as well)
1. All Recent Register Entries
One of my favorite parts of the apps has always been the Trail Registers for each waypoint. The only problem was that in order to see what people were saying, you had to search through each waypoint to see if there was anything new written at its register. No longer! Now there is a page that lists all register entries in all waypoints, and clicking on an entry will bring you to the waypoint’s detail page. One quick check at the Recent Register Entries page, and you’ll have a good impression of what’s been going on since your last visit. Plus, it will be easier to see useful information, like who’s been talking trash about you in obscure waypoint registers.
2. Forums Section to replace News
The News section of the app has always been a little confusing, and I got the feeling not many people were sure what to use it for. So I’ve refined and reworked the News section to create a basic forum experience, complete with multiple rooms, and the ability to start and respond to topics. I’ve reserved one room for admins to write in, as a kind of remotely updated user manual, so expect a bit more useful info on how to use the apps as well.
3. Improved Data-Book Section
Previously, the list of waypoints in the Data-Book section was just that: a plain, boring list. I was about ready to do away with it entirely, but my friends convinced me to build it up, instead. So now there are different sections of the data book (a list of all waypoints, plus sub-lists for all campsites, all water sources, all parking areas, and more), each of which will show your location along the trail if your GPS is turned on.
Using your phone’s built-in GPS now adds a lot more functionality than just showing where you are! Whenever you’re near the trail, waypoints will now show up with “x miles ahead” or “y miles back” instead of “mile 1975.6″ or some other really large number, taking plenty of guesswork and calculations out of your brain. Also, when you look up your location, you’ll get your coordinates, elevation, distance from the trail, which mile number you’re at, and a snazzy “share” button.
Clicking on the share button will send a screen shot of your location (either on the elevation profile, map, or data-book), plus your coordinates, mile number, and distance from the trail in a Facebook post, Tweet, email, or text message. Now you can share more info about your hike with friends and family, easy as pie.
5. Improved Settings Section
I’ve finally gotten around to making the Settings section truly functional. The previous update in September introduced the ability to reverse the trail direction, for all you crazy southbounders. Now there’s also a switch to use metric measurement units for some guides (not all of them yet). And for those of you who are filling up your phone’s memory, there’s a data storage settings section where you can see just how much space the maps and photos of each guide are using, and you can choose to delete either set if necessary. For the Appalachian Trail app, you can delete each individual trail section’s maps or photos, too, so you only need to keep space filled up on your phone when you’re using it.
6. Under the Hood Improvements
And finally, the part that really gets me going is how much faster and more efficiently a lot of the program is. I’ve changed a lot of the program code to make the apps opening, waypoint loading, mile calculations, and plenty of other things happen much faster than before, even on the oldest possible iPhone 3GS. Best of all, with improved networking code, I can update waypoints and trail info from my computer, which then gets sent out and automatically updated on your phone when you have a network connection. No need for you to press any extra buttons or okay any data updates.