Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Geocaching Frustrations

Readers of this blog know that I'm a huge fan of geocaching.  I've been geocaching with my kids for several years now.  We typically hit it big in the spring and early summer and then our outings tail off when the temperature increases and school starts up in the late summer.  We've gone out a couple of times in 2017 while biking on a local bike trail.

When I first started geocaching in 2008 I purchased a Garmin Etrex Legend GPS unit.  Works great!  In 2014 I downloaded, and paid for, the full version of the official geocaching app on my smartphone.  Worked fantastically!  I was able to see all geocaches along with all user inputted information on the caches.  I started using the app on my phone exclusively when caching.  I paid either $7 or $10 for the app and it was money well spent.

In April 2017 I went to the app and discovered it was out of date and no longer supported.  I had to download the new version of the app.  No problem, until after downloading and installing it I realized the changes to the app are devastating to geocachers.  The GPS on the app is absolute crap on my phone.  This is the same phone I used last year, so it's not the phone's GPS causing the problem.  It is the app.  It takes 20-30 seconds between GPS updates in the app and that is simply unacceptable when geocaching.  On top of that, any cache rated 1.5 difficulty or above is now a 'premium' cache in the app.  Ug.  The lowest difficult is 1, so 1.5 and above is a huge number of caches that are now blacked out to phone app users.

Fortunately all of these apps are still view-able on the website.  It means I have to go back to the original GPS unit and away from the phone app.  The phone app itself is now free, but you have to pay $100/year for a premium membership to use it.  That's not going to happen for an app that doesn't do the job.  Reading through the app reviews, there are many who purchased the old phone app in February/March and are now extremely upset because now they can't use the old app.  Very understandable.

To conclude, we are still geocachers, but are now using a standard GPS unit and no longer our smartphones.  It's amazing to me how an amazing app that worked wonderfully was simply destroyed in the new version.  And for what purpose?  Greed as far as I can tell.

No comments:

Post a Comment