User Support | covering the answers to your questions
We do not wish to enter into any iOS versus Android type arguments here. Simply in terms of optimum portability in the field and optimum screen size, devices around the 7" size are best. These are physically similar in size to a folded OS Map, albeit thicker and heavier, so you can easily stow them away in the kind pockets or back packs where you put maps. The screen size is a good for map details (the maps are zoomable). Examples of devices that fit into this category are the iPad-mini (but this not have built-in GPS), Google Nexus 7 (GPS built-in) and Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7") (GPS built-in).
Will the apps need 3G or WiFi connectivity in the field?
No. Given the poor state (if any) of mobile phone connectivity in much of the UK countryside (plus some devices have no phone connectivity built in anyway), the apps have been constructed with all data built-in. The only section of the app that would attempt a web connection is the links in the Information section, but these are best accessed when you are somewhere with WiFi access.
Set of on your walk with a fully charged battery! Given the app may be using GPS a lot and you will probably have your screen brightness set high, both these will drain the battery. Our testing of the apps in the field found that a fully charged battery will last for a day's walking, especially on a tablet which have larger batteries.
Sunshine and screens
Well we would all like to see more sunshine, especially when out in the beautiful countryside of places like the Abberley and Malvern Hills. Unfortunately, bright sunshine will make phone and tablet screens very difficult to read - the best you can do is set the brightness high (will drain battery more), shade the screen, or hope it clouds over! We have tested the apps in rain, snow, below freezing temperatures with very cold fingers - they continued to work on all devices tested.
Protecting device in the field
Smartphones and tablets are not cheap devices! They are fairly rugged, but they are very sophisticated devices - powerful computers with an array sensors plus a display screen with integrated touch interface. Dropping them on rocks or into in the mud is not a good idea! There are a number of protective cases available, some providing protection against a drop from a great high (several metres) onto a hard surface, plus reasonable protection from water ingress
Do I need Geolocation (Loaction Services) enabled?
Does the app need to have Geolocation (Location Services) enabled. Yes - if you would like the app to show you where you are on the trail, and provide photos and geological information updated to your current location! As a user you can opt to not have location services enabled, as you may not wish your privacy to be compromised by an app that feeds your location to others. The Geopark Way apps use location simply to give you the best experience in the field on your walk and for no other underhand use!
My device does not have GPS
The non 3G versions of the iPad, the iPad-mini and iPod, do not have a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver. In contrast, most Android devices will have integral GPS, including tablets without 3G support. For such devices there is the option of plugging in an external GPS receiver that is approved by Apple. The device which goes by the name of Bad Elf is available from here: http://bad-elf.com/products/be-gps-1000 The current device is only available with the original 30-pin type connector as found on the iPhone4 and original iPads. To work with a device with a lightning connector (as found on iPhone5, new iPods and Retinal display iPad, you need one of 30-pin to 9-pin lighting converter sockets or cables. Although the Bad Elf GPS receiver is not yet officially approved by Apple to work via a lighting connector, we have found no issues. Note, the Bad Elf device does not provide direction information, unlike the integral Apple GPS receivers. Android GPS devices can also lack direction information - by direction we mean compass direction, i.e. so many degrees east of north. Devices without GPS receivers gain some limited position information when they are able to access WiFi. For example, if you activate the app before setting out, it may get a start location using the WiFi in your home. Unfortunately, while walking the Geopark Way you are unlikely to encounter many places where this data will get refreshed. It will be down to you to touch the map in your current location to get the geological info and any photos, etc. for that spot.
How accurate is GPS in the field?
Not all devices will have the same accuracy of GPS receiver. Phone/tablet manufacturers do not publish such information. Tests in the field on wide range of devices indicate +/-10m of true location is average - good enough for getting a fix on where you are on the trail and the rock beneath. GPS accuracy will is dependent on the number of GPS satellites 'visible' to your devices receiver. Some of these satellites will be close to the horizon. So when in a deep quarry or close into a high set of hills like the Malvern's, GPS accuracy is likely to be impaired.
When I look for the app on the Play Store it does not show up
If your device is not compatible with the app requirements, E.g. screen size too small, the app will not show up when you search for it on the stores.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 (original version) gives error when installing app
In the case of very early version of this device (and possibly other older Android devices), there was a limit placed on download size of apps (of around 25Mb). Unfortunately all the Geopark apps exceed this rather restrictive limited and so will show an error at download.
We welcome feedback on the apps, either from the point of any devices there are any functional issues, or from the point of view of issues relating to say footpath position in relation to that shown on the maps built into the apps. New versions of the apps will be released from time to time, to add new content, or correct any issues highlighted.