- Editor's Rating
For merely $2.99, Fullpower’s Motion X-GPS for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad gives hikers, runners, skiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts a Swiss Army knife, fork, spoon and spork’s worth of tools, functions, features and options. Yet in trying out this manifold GPS app, I discovered some room for improvement in the software.
If you’re an active outdoor type of person, MotionX-GPS version 16 for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad offers a set of incredibly useful tools for tracking your routes, recording your speeds, finding nearby places, sharing locations with friends, and much more. I’ve tried out this audio-enabled app on my iPhone 4 for the past few days, both while walking and driving. Although I’ve really liked a lot of what I’ve seen (and heard), I can’t say the same for all of it.
As the app’s Track Recorder “Activity Mode” settings make clear, Motion X-GPS is also targeted at use in hiking, biking, running, skating, flying, rowing, skiing, hand-gliding, paddle-boating, and even scuba diving (although presumably not while underwater).
Motion X-GPS has done a great job of exploiting my iPhone 4’s built-in GPS capabilities, accelerometer, and Compass app. You can also take advantage of the iPhone 4’s multitasking to talk on the phone or listen to radio broadcasts while running the app.
MotionX-GPS does not include navigation information and driving directions, although Fullpower also sells a 99 cent Motion X GPS Drive app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPod, plus a Motion X-GPS Drive HD for the iPad. What the $2.99 Motion X-GPS app does include is just about everything else you need.
If you want to know your latitude, longitude, elevation, and magnetic and True North compass bearings — as well as what restaurants are nearby based on map info — it’s all in here.
The app integrates maps, routes, waypoints, and the iPhone’s camera and audio capabilities with Wikipedia and social networking.
With that said, though, I do have some nits and complaints about Motion X-GPS, especially around installation and audio glitches and user interface (UI) inconsistencies.
Here are some of this app’s key features:
- An interactive route creation “stopwatch” records your time, speed, and more. You can take geo-tagged photos and share your routes through Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail. Similarly, you can see where your friends are. There’s also an option to audio-announce your distance, pace/speed, and maximum speed every minute.
- You can use maps both online and offline. Fullpower lets you download Motion X, Google, or Bing maps from anywhere in the world free of charge (aside from carriers’ bandwidth fees, of course). Views/layers include topographical/terrain, satellite, hybrid, and marine.
- The Motion X-GPS v16 active screen includes quick access to iPod controls, letting you pop those at the bottom. At the top there is a “take a picture” camera button, along with features to connect the picture to your current location/route.
- On most screens, two main feature-navigation buttons are present — “Menu” and “Search” (short for “Search Wheel”) — with some overlap between what these two buttons provide. The Search Wheel’s “Wikipedia” finds Wikipedia entries for — and distances to — places. Clicking on an entry brings up a split-screen, with the Wikipedia entry on the top and the map view on the bottom. The Wheel also includes an entry for “Facebook Check-ins and Places” and a way to enter an address, location or latitude/longitude to a map.
When I gave the app a try, I used “walk” mode to track my daily walk from my home office to the Post Office where my physical mailbox is located. I could view my route on my choice of street, terrain or satellite map, I also got a once-a-minute audio update to my Jawbone ERA Bluetooth headset about how long and far I’d walked so far, and my current speed.
Through the iPhone 4’s multitasking, I ran Motion X-GPS v16 and other apps concurrently. I found that I could make phone calls or listen to an NPR radio segment while Motion X-GPS v16 kept track of my location and movements.
As I anticipated, however, with Bluetooth and Motion X-GPS both active, my iPhone’s battery ran down a lot faster. The iPhone 4’s multitasking options do recognize this kind of issue, with choices that include optimized, always on, and always off, to let you decide between data and battery life. Still, you might consider packing a portable recharger.
Nits, notes and criticisms
Here are my nits and criticisms:
- It took me several attempts to buy, download and install Motion X-GPS v16 via iTunes on my Windows XP computer. (I’ve never experienced this problem with an iPhone app before.)
- The UI navigation design is inconsistent within the app. A ubiquitous “BACK” button would also be nice.
- When I used a Bluetooth headset, the (optional) audio announcements for current statistics clipped the initial “number of minutes.” On speakerphone, though, the audio announcements worked fine.
Here’s another note. The GPS requires direct “line of site” with GPS satellites, So if you’re indoors — or in a wooded or tall building area — Motion X-GPS might not get an accurate signal. This is not Fullpower’s fault. It’s just the limits of GPS technology. Motion X-GPS can also use WiFi signals for some locations, however. Alternatively, you can enter your location manually.
Overall, I found Motion X-GPS to be a good app. It’s certainly not hard to get your money’s worth from, at only $2.99. I’m not sure how often I’ll use MotionX-GPS once I’m done exploring the features… but I suspect the answer is, “More than I would think.”
It would be interesting to continue tracking how far I walk over time (and it would be easier to do this with Motion X than with Google’s Map Pedometer). Motion X could also prove very useful for getting map and “places of interest” info when I’m traveling in other geographic areas, whether for business or pleasure.