11 Essential Outdoor Apps (Part 2)

7/25/2013 2:06:19 PM

GeoHashing (iOS, Windows Phone)

GeoHashing was invented by the popular webcomic XKCD and involves using a randomized algorithm to generate a set of coordinates for each 1° by 1° latitude/longitude zone, with a new set generated every 24 hours. Players must then attempt to reach the coordinates before the day is up. It's essentially geocaching without the caches. Instead, the idea is to document your attempt to reach the coordinates and share them on XKCD's GeoHashing forum.

The GeoHashing app will automatically use the GeoHashing algorithm to inform you of today's coordinates using the built-in maps service, as well as linking you to popular GeoHashing sites and helping you share your expedition as you go. You can also use it to help plot a route to the day's coordinates and even plan where you might stop to eat along the way. It's not as extensive as the Geocaching app, but the tighter community and emphasis on enjoying the attempt as much as the goal makes for a very different experience. And hey, if you don't know what to do with yourself on any given day but feel like getting out of the house, at least there's only one choice of where to go!

(Alternative GeoHashing apps are available for Android, such as the popular GeoHashDroid.)

225 Kid Outdoor Games (iOS)

While most of these apps use GPS or augmented reality to make being outdoors a requirement, this one does things the old fashioned way. 225 Kid Outdoor Games (we'll let the slightly odd name slide on the grounds that the developer probably isn't a native English speaker) does things old school - almost literally, in some cases. It's essentially a textbook with instructions for playing over 200 outdoor games from across the globe.

Games can be browsed by country of origin and you can search for a game based on details of target age, number of players, duration and more. Beautifully drawn instructions allow you to easily show even young children how to play a game and you can bookmark and rate games for future reference. Shaking the phone allows you to select a random one and you can even add your own! It's currently available in both English and Spanish language versions and updates promise to add even more games to it. Not a bad way to spend 69 pence, especially if you find yourself with a picnic or birthday party to curate!

iFootpath (iOS, Android)

If you buy them in book form, a simple walking guide can cost loads - so that makes this app a particularly great purchase. The iFootpath app links in with the website of the same name to help users discover a variety of walks and rambles whatever their location. The walks are crowd-sourced, so you can add your own, and if you submit 10 miles of walks worth publishing, it'll give you a $16 voucher in return!

Each guide includes GPS data, reference guides, illustrations, images and comments to help you decide whether you want to go on it and keep you on the right track once you've set off. Designed specifically for the UK, there's no doubt that you'll be able to find something suitable regardless of where you are in the country, which makes it great for use at home or on holiday. There's even a built-in weather forecasting function to help keep you updated with the, er, changeable conditions of the UK's climate. A fantastic little app for keen hikers and amateur wanderers alike.

iBird (iOS, Android, Windows Phone

Regardless of whether you're going to specifically do some bird watching or if you're simply out and about and wondering what it is you can hear, the iBird app is great for identifying avian life of all kinds. With illustrations, identification guides, a database of bird calls and location and behavioral information, there's as much information in this app as you'll find in any book. You can even search by color!


As you might expect, there are plenty of other bird watching apps available for smartphones and tablets, but few come close to being as comprehensive and simple to use as iBird is - especially since there's a dedicated UK version available! The

only thing that could reasonably put you off is the price, and the good news there is that it's currently on sale for the incredibly reasonable amount of only £1.99 - but only until June 1st, so if you're at all interested, now's definitely the time to buy!

Bike Maps by Maplets (iOS)

Although aimed at commuters, Bike Maps by Maplets is a fantastic app for anyone who wants to traverse a city on two wheels instead of four (or none), even if you're just visiting. There's comprehensive cover for all major US and UK cities, as well as access to rural rides and mountain bike trails. You're able to manually sketch a route or annotate existing maps and the maps themselves are high definition and stored locally, meaning you don't risk getting cut off mid-ride.

There are hundreds of maps built-in and it's even possible to request additional ones if the city or town you want isn't covered. It's designed more for route-planning than active navigation, but with information about the types of roads that are available and what sort of traffic they allow, it has everything a cyclists needs to plot their journey as well as hundreds of pre-defined routes. Another must-buy - it's just a shame it's iOS only!

Endomondo Pro (iOS, Android, Windows Phone)

Running trackers are ten-a-penny on smartphones, but Endomondo is one of the few to add an extra dimension by putting a social layer on top, helping you share your runs with friends, see how and where they've been training and compete against their personal bests.

Although designed for running, it's also capable of handling cycling, skating, walking or any other distance-based activity.

The Pro version adds tons of excellent features, including lap time, speed and even altitude graphs. A 'beat yourself' mode tracks old runs and lets you see if you've improved. A custom 'audio coach' lets you set what information you're given through the earphones and how often it's given out. It's everything an exercise nerd could want!

All the data collected by the app is stored on your Endomondo profile, which helps to keep you honest and engaged. If you're the sort of person who needs the disapproving gaze of your friends to keep you moving, Endomondo could be exactly what you're looking for!

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