I’ve been working non-stop for the past few months to make major upgrades to the Guthook’s Guides apps for iPhone, and I’m pretty excited to announce what is in the pipeline for 2015. The updates will probably not be ready until January or February 2015, but I’m aiming to have them ready before most Appalachian Trail hikers hit the trail on Springer.
The biggest improvement will be the base map. For the past three years, I’ve only had access to maps by OpenCycleMap, an open source mapping project with high-quality maps for the entire world, but those maps weren’t always ideal for what I wanted. So I’ve finally found a good replacement for the base map, using the USGS National Map, which is a beautiful topo map with hill shading, contour lines in feet, and a simple, uncluttered map view.
Of course, I’ll also leave the OpenCycleMap option in the apps for trails outside the US, so you can choose which map you’d like to use. To accompany the new choices, I’m also overhauling the system for downloading and choosing maps. No longer will you have to wait for the maps to download before you can use the app– a single button will bring up a list of online map sources (which you need an internet connection to load), offline map sources that are loaded to your phone (no internet connection necessary), and offline map sources that are available but haven’t been downloaded yet. Selecting an offline source to download will start the download, which will work in the background while you can play around with the app without being stuck with a loading screen.
Simpler Photo Downloads!
While I was working on improving the map download system, I also wanted to make the photo downloads simpler as well. So now, rather than waiting while the photos download, you can go about your business while downloads happen in the background. Each trail section will have a setting toggle for automatic photo syncing, which means the app will check for new photos without any extra work on your part, and will download them automatically if they exist on my servers. If you don’t want the photos for a section of the trail, just turn off syncing, and the files will be deleted for that section. Easy as pie!
More Stable and Efficient
Many of the upgrades I’m making aren’t flashy and exciting new features, but will improve the speed and stability of the apps. Fewer crashes and faster loading are always high on my priority list for upgrades in the apps. With phones becoming exponentially faster each year, incremental improvements in how quickly the elevation profile loads, or how quickly you can switch from one section of the trail to the next aren’t going to be as noticeable to you on your shiny new iPhone 6+, but I try to be a perfectionist anyway.
Stay tuned for more news about what’s coming up in the future!