iPhone 3G - A Geocaching Find

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iPhone 3G - A Geocaching Find

 

 

July 11, 2008, is the release day of the iPhone 3G, a device anticipated for its promised speedy connectivity and its one-stop application shopping. But a small and growing segment have their eyes fixed specifically on the integrated GPS chip: they’re geocachers.

 

Geocachers, almost 600,000 worldwide, are an adventurous bunch. With the use of a portable GPS device plus coordinates found on geocaching.com, they hike, climb, and hunt some of the half million small containers or boxes scattered across the world, just for the fun of it. These caches hold only trinkets and a small log book, but for geocachers, it’s a way to connect to the great outdoors coupled with the thrill of the hunt. With gadgets.

 

But not the current iPhone. Even though other cell phones like the Nokia N95 have GPS locators, the current iPhone does not. In order to establish direction, Apple-loyal geocachers have to lug their Magellan or Garmin GPS devices with them, sometimes on precarious terrain. Or worse--they may need to take another cell phone, one with GPS ability.

 

Despite this obvious limitation, current iPhones are still useful to take on the trail.

 

Alisandra Brewer, who taught a class on the intersection of Macintoshes and geocaching at an event called “GeoWoodstock” says the Google Maps application on the current iPhone may have been a lifesaver.

 

Brewer said that she and her husband (with their three dogs, they go by the moniker “Team Psychopuppy,”) “were at a cache in a state park, and we could see on our GPS that the next one was a quarter mile away. But the trail didn’t go in that direction. We could have waded through the poison oak, but I called up the maps on the iPhone. I saw that if we had gone bushwacking, we would have gone 300 feet straight down.”

 

The current iPhone’s email support helps geocachers stay in touch with the latest cache updates. Brewer gets new cache listings sent to her .Mac account, which she reads on the go. She types the coordinates into her GPS device and runs to the location in order to grab the coveted “first to find” position on the cache’s logbook. And of course, with the iPhone, geocachers can call their friends and brag about their accomplishments in style.

 

In addition, current iPhone geocachers can make use of geocache managers like MacCacher. This program pulls information such as latitude and longitude, as well as notes and hints, from the geocacher’s go-to site, Geocaching.com. MacCacher then organizes the info in a familiar, easy-to-read format.

 

iPod users can easily download MacCacher’s files to their iPod’s “notes” section. Unfortunately, MacCacher can only save your cache information to the “contacts” section of your iPhone. Unless you create a dedicated folder, your cache notes will be interspersed with your pediatrician’s and best friend’s phone numbers.

 

Macintosh geocachers may also want to look at GeoObsession, but it’s currently being beta-tested and is not yet ready for prime time.

 

Michael Jacobus, publisher of Geocacher magazine, says that geocaching is a great way to explore and see parts of the world you wouldn’t normally see. And less than three weeks from now, the iPhone will help lead the way.

 

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iPhoneCzar

No more workarounds for geocachers with 3G iPhones. Now you can have it all in one package. (and if you want to use gloves with the touch screen, just buy one of those inexpensive stylus thingies for use in winter.) Just search on geocaching in the app store on iTunes and you'll find the app.

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Anonymous

"Apple-loyal geocachers have to lug their Magellan or Garmin GPS devices with them, sometimes on precarious terrain."

But you're recommending that they use a much less rugged device (the iPhone) in the same environment? Hilarious. My GPS is IPX7 rated waterproof, had a lanyard attachment, can be easily viewed in the brightest direct sunlight, and CAN BE USED WHILE WEARING GLOVES. In other words, unlike the iPhone, it's made for the outdoors, which is what you need for geocaching.

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