Finding Nearest Waypoints in Android

Today's newsletter talks about new features in BackCountry Navigator for waypoint lists, GPX import and export. Also included is response to feedback for finding maps, and other comments from the Android Market and surveys. 

There are some new features released today. Don't consider these features fully mature – they have been tested in house, but feedback from the field is welcome. If these are the features you have been waiting for, feel free to up your rating for the app.  

Waypoint Lists:
A highly requested and highly useful feature is the list of nearest waypoints. You can now find one on the fourth screen of BackCountry Navigator. 

This list will show the waypoints in the currently loaded trip file, if any.
To see a different set of waypoints, load a different trip file from the File menu.

You can also enter a keyword to filter waypoints and find a specific one by name . If the GPS is active, it will update the list based on the distance to you.   

Important tip: to see a menu for a waypoint, press and hold. You can then choose to edit, goto, center, or delete.  

GPX Import and Export 
Since file explorers are not standard on Android, I've now enabled a basic file explorer to import a GPX file from the file menu. There is also a GPX export menu item which will place GPX files in /sdcard/bcnav/out.  

Not all GPX files are created equal, so do email me any ones that don't work. It can often be something silly like a different date or color format that we can work around. Two have sent me some GPX files in the last week. One was found to be using some undocumented tags from Garmin, while the other ones were found to be a mystery so far since they all worked for me. But work continues. 

Finding a map you've downloaded
We've gotten feedback about some things that are not entirely clear. One is loading a map that you have previously download. While a download isn't a map that you can 'load', what you really need is to be able to get back to the same place where you have data. Related is the experience of loading a trip file and not seeing any visual confirmation. Here are some steps we have taken or will work on.

  • Place find caches coordinates: When you go to the Find a Place Menu, you can pick one of the suggestions with coordinate attached to skip the server lookup and recenter at the coordinates. 
  • AutoCenter when loading trip files: Now, when you load a trip file, the app tries to find bounds and come up with a default center and zoom. This won't help, though

    • The trip doesn't have any waypoints and tracks. (trip files do *not* contain map tiles). 
    • The waypoints aren't distributed in a way that has a meaningful center. 
  • Still tough: Missing storage card: When your storage card is unavailable, BCNav will fail in unpredictable ways without warning. Since registering for storage card events did not work as expected, a fix for this did not make it into this release.
  • Documentation: Note that our help docs have not yet kept pace with the new features. We hope to have some more examples out soon. Here is an example of importing GPX.

Response to Market feedback:
Since we don't have a good way of contacting people who leave comments in the Android Market. We also have some feedback through our survey, which doesn't allow us to contact members either.  Here are some things to think about:

  • Track Recording crashes?: Someone said that the app crashes when trying to start a track recording. Weeks ago, we did fix a bug that would fail in starting a track without a trip file.  
  • Could not find City: Our place find service goes through Google. It is unlikely that Google doesn't know about a city, so it is more likely that network connectivity is to blame if a search is unsuccessful.
  • Is BackCountry Navigator 'laggy'?: As obvious as this one sounds, I need some more help to figure this out. If some of you have found this app to be laggy, please contact me to describe. Some lags are caused by the map servers themselves, but others can be optimized. 
  • Could not import a GPX file: see above notes about GPX files. If you left that comment, could you please email that file to me? 

If you have had a good experience with BackCountry Navigator, consider leaving a positive comment on the DEMO or license app, to balance out those comments of those who probably need help, but that we may never be able to contact.  

Thanks and have a great day!