Geocaching is Indispensable App (even for 1st gen iPhone)

January 6, 2009 at 6:39 am (iPhone/iPod Touch) ()

I’ve been fascinated by the concept of geocaching for quite awhile. Someone tosses a logbook and a few gumball machine trinkets in a Tupperware™ container, stashes it somewhere, and folks spend time trying to find it? Thrilling.

Until I tried it. What a rush at finding that first cache! …and second, and third…you get the point. It can be wildly frustrating, challenging, exhillarating…and that’s just reading the description of the cache you’re after!

This is a great little app. Getting started is as simple as registering online for a free account. You don’t have to use the website version for the iPhone/iPod Touch app to be effective. I do highly recommend at least reading the brief First Timer guidelines, FAQs, Glossary of Terms (basic knowledge of this one can be the difference between a successful find and a frustrating afternoon).

You enter the zip code in which you’d like to search for a cache. Alternately, you can let the phone pick up your position, and it will search that area depending on what information you enter. It then returns a list of available caches. That’s where the fun begins.

You click on a result that appeals to you. It lists the latitude and longitude where the cache can be found. It also lists the approximate difficulty, terrain, type, and size of the cache. There can be multiple caches within a single post. Within the coordinates section, you also have choices for navigation (handy when you are very close to the cache) and map (which leaves the app and takes you to Google maps). There is a description tab, where others have left prior notes, and you can, too. The ‘logs’ button advises you that it may include spoilers. It lets you know when others found the cache, any special circumstances, etc. The final tab is for a hint. Most of the time, these are blank…I’ve figured out that when there is a hint, one is when several logs show frustration and inability to find the cache. Also, sometimes they will write the hint backwards or in a fairly easy to translate code.

There are a few pros and cons. The big pro: It can be used with the original iPhone (which is what I have). It does not have true GPS, but rather uses triangulation of coordinates with WiFi and EDGE via SkyHook Wireless. Granted, true GPS is a bit better, and diehard geocachers use Garmins and such. But, hey, this works fine for me 95% of the time, so I’m sticking with it — at least until I get a 3G iPhone.

A small con but with a solution: The iPod Touch obviously doesn’t use the EDGE network of cell phones, so if you aren’t in WiFi range, you won’t be able to look up something online in a pinch; however, there is a ‘save’ feature that will let you store searches offline. Very nice feature.
One of the most requested features was recently added: the ability to filter out your previous finds. That was one of the biggest complaints from regular geocachers so there are a lot of happy campers, er, cachers, now.

The app is selling for $9.99 at the App Store.

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1 Comment

  1. kevinmcbride said,

    Hello,

    I use my 3G iPhone and a Delorme PN-40 for Geocaching. The iPhone is a fantastic way to go paperless but it is not as accurate as a dedicated GPSr for tracking. I did, however, use it exclusively for a few months. Then I purchased my Delorme PN-40 and WOW this thing is accurate!

    My only complaint with the Geocaching.com application is it does not allow you to log finds from the application. Sure you can use Safari to navigate to the Geocaching.com site but that is not practical in the field. I wish they would add that feature to the app…maybe one day????

    Happy caching!

    Kevin
    TeamCacheFly

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