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Waypoints: Another way to see where you've been

Mel Martin
Mel Martin|February 23, 2009 6:30 PM
Hard on the heels of my review of Geotags, some of our readers suggested we take a look at Waypoints, [App Store link] which has some similar functions and a smoother interface. Waypoints, which is US $2.99, can save any GPS location you choose, and allow you to access them with your desktop web browser, or it can download GPX or Google Earth (KML) files for the waypoints you've visited. It runs on the iPhone and requires iPhone software version 2.1 and above.

You can view any waypoint in Google Maps on your iPhone, and you can email locations including latitude, longitude, elevation, and any notes you add to the description. The software also embeds a hyperlink to open Google Maps at the spot you bookmarked. There is also a feature to share saved locations with people on the same wireless network. The usefulness of that feature will depend on how a person wants to use the software.

Waypoints will work on an iPod Touch, but with limited usefulness because there is no on-board GPS in those devices and the WiFi/Skyhook location services aren't really precise enough to take up the slack (nor are hotspots prevalent out in the backcountry).

Read on for more impressions, or check out the screenshot gallery:

%Gallery-45673%I put the software through its paces today, as I traveled around town picking waypoints and saving them with notes on my phone, and sending the locations to others via email. I can report that there were no glitches with the software, and it worked as advertised.

I think this is a nice app, but the feature set is a bit limited. While you can email a location to someone, Google Maps on the iPhone already provides that service, although without the addition of notes. Of course, since Google Maps shares locations with email, just like Waypoints, you can always add a note that way, but it does not stay with the saved locations on your iPhone. I've asked the developer, Doug Penny, about other features that are coming, and he said he'll add pictures and voice recording to the app as soon as possible. That would be a powerful addition, especially since Waypoints is a paid application, and Geotags is free.

Another improvement would be to keep the Google Maps display within the GUI of Waypoints. When you ask to see the saved locations on a map, you're dumped out of Waypoints to access Google Maps. By the same token, mailing a saved location dumps you to email. Geotags keeps you inside its own app for the map displays. I think it is a cleaner approach.

On the other hand Geotags is a bit difficult to figure out, where Waypoints was easy to operate as soon as I downloaded it. It is a good choice if your goal is to save lots of locations with notes to go along with them. As the developer adds more features, the app will be a better deal.

As the two apps improve, they will likely converge around a similar set of capabilities. That's good for the end user; we benefit from all the competition.

Our readers will also want to take a look at Hotspot [App Store link] which is free for the iPhone and allows you to tag locations with photos and notes, and email them to friends. One of the benefits of the iPhone, it seems, is an almost endless stream of apps with similar capabilities. It keeps users, and reviewers, quite busy.