February 20, 2010
TrackMyTour is an iPhone application written by a bike tourist for bike tourists. Christopher Meyer, the developer of the application is originally from Canada but currently lives in Switzerland. He was bitten by the touring bug in 2004 and has since toured through Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.
The idea for the app started in 2006, when Chris wanted a way to post short updates and micro blog while on tour. He toyed with using a website as a means to do it but found it cumbersome. Chris says that, "everything came together after Apple released the iPhone 3G. Here we had a device that was mobile, internet-enabled, a GPS, camera, and allowed text-input. The iPhone app was an obvious next step."
TrackMyTour is a simple to use "location-based mobile blogging app." You simply drop waypoints while you are on tour to show your location, which you can then enrich with a blog entry or photo. You then submit your entry and the application communicates with the TrackMyTour.com website and updates your Google map which your friends and family can follow along.
TrackMyTour differs from many current GPS bicycle apps in that it isn't a "real-time" tracker. It doesn't turn your iPhone into a Garmin which tracks every single inch of your route. While this may not be ideal for those that are accustomed to more training based applications that records constantly while you are riding, IT IS ideal for the bicycle tourist that plans to go into remote areas or do extended tours. Because of this "bread crumb" method of plotting your route, you are able to conserve the iPhone's battery life considerably. TrackMyTour also lets you save the waypoints you've created and submit them later when you have access to the Internet.
I've been using TrackMyTour for about 6 months during our around-the-US bicycle tour and have found it extremely easy to use and a great way to document your trip. One of the quirks of the iPhone 3G is that although the GPS is always working (except in the Redwoods!), the internet is hit or miss depending on how remote you are. TrackMyTour lets you work around this limitation by saving your geocoded way points for later when you have access to the Web. I have also found that by not having a "real time" GPS app to document our tour, I'm able to stretch out the battery life of the iPhone. For comparison's sake, if I were to use a real time GPS app, I could probably only track about 4 hours worth of riding. By having on-demand GPS bread crumbs, you can stretch out the life for days depending on how heavily you use your iPhone.
While created for bicycle touring, TrackMyTour could also be used as a general travel app for hiking, commuting, etc., We recently met someone who was running across the country in New Mexico during our travels and I turned him on to TrackMyTour and now he is tracking his RUN across the country!
TrackMyTour also integrates with Twitter and can be set to tweet your updates and includes a link to your TrackMyTour Google map. Future updates may include integration with Facebook, Google Buzz and more editing options in the application.
TrackMyTour is a great and thoughtful application for the tech savvy tourist that has an iPhone. At the princely price of FREE, it can't be beat. While not the best app for those that want to record every bit of your ride data, it is a great way to track your journey and share it with others.
By Russ Roca. You can follow Russ and Laura's adventures around these United States at PathLessPedaled.com.