New tracking feature


The maps found here are pretty and informative, but they are a bit of a chore to update. Their data originate in a handheld GPS I lug around everywhere. I’ve written bash scripts and created Automator workflows to facilitate the task of moving track files from the GPS to the computer, simplify them, and then ultimately post them onto the blog; still I’m lucky to post map updates every few months.

Of course the family doesn’t much like this. Thanks to a new app on my smartphone, I’m rolling out a tracking feature that should help bridge the gap between the maps and where I actually am in my travels. This should make everyone happy!

The new app is essentially a vehicle tracking app. It’s a GPS tracker with a feature-set targeted at those who nefariously track people they don’t trust. Honest uses such as locating a lost or stolen phone or following some adventure rider like myself across the Americas is just an added benefit.

I get it. “Track my cheating husband” and “track my teenager” are the kind of search phrases people use when they really just need a GPS tracker.

Anyway. This app is called FollowMee. The deluxe version costs about $8 for iOS, and it works like this: I run the app on my smartphone. It collects and caches my location data as I move. As soon as the app detects an Internet connection, it uploads the cached location information to the FollowMee server. This new Track page loads the data onto a map.

Because GPS is a power-hungry hippo, the app limits the frequency of recorded locations when on battery power. A more-detailed vehicle tracking routine kicks in once the phone connects to USB power, which is typically the case while I ride.

Because location updates require mobile data service or Wi-Fi, I’m still uncertain how often this new map will show current information while I ride through Mexico, Central, and South America. T-Mobile advertises mobile data coverage in 120 or so countries; I suspect this coverage is limited to metropolitan areas. The worst case scenario is that the map updates as often as I find open Wi-Fi.

If I ride through data coverage or connect to Wi-Fi at least every 24 hours, you’ll see a track of my previous day. Otherwise, you’ll see a single pinpoint of the last known location.

Are you interested in a GPS tracker app for your adventures? Maybe you need to track your cheating spouse or scumbag teenager. Head on over to the developer’s website for more information on the Premium and Free versions as well as support for Kindle, Android, Blackberry, Windows, and Windows Phone.


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