Geocaching With Your iPhone
Geocaching is a great way to explore your city and places you visit. Geocaching is where people will hide “caches” which are then located by others who are geocaching. Inside each of these little tiny caches are lists of who has found them and some random trinkets. There are literally thousands of these all over the place. All of these caches are entered into a giant database. The caches also have info about the cache, difficulty of finding it, terrain difficulty, and other relevant facts. Those that don’t know about geocaching are often referred to as muggles by the geocaching folks. It can look a bit odd locating some of these caches located in busy areas of cities. The iPhone has become a great tool to locate caches. There are a few apps out there to help accomplish this. Most are rather pricy so this guide should help you make the right decision for you.
The official app from Groundspeak is the essential geocaching app. The app allows direct access to the cache database. The app continues to be updated and now is at version 4.2. The launch screen allows you to find nearby caches, search by address, and searching by GC code. Along the bottom are four different tabs: search, saved, logs, and trackables. There is also an export button which allows access to the settings or help. The settings allow you to login to geocaching.com to sync your saved caches. You can also select where you want your street, topo, and satellite maps to come from. Overall the official geocaching app is the best way to start geocaching from your iPhone. Geocaching is heavily dependent upon GPS so an iPod touch would not work with this as well.
iGeoCacher is basically just a native app of the web app iGeoCacher. The app features five tabs at the bottom including: Caches, Groups, Data, GPS, and WPT. The app is the best competition to the official geocaching app. The app however feels a bit more like a web app port rather than an official app. The best example of this is the text used throughout the app. It looks foreign and does not use the standard and easier to read fonts typical of iOS apps. The compass within the app also looks a bit out of date. The main problem with the app is that it is simply not as beautiful and elegant as the official app. The price tag is also five dollars more than the official app. The app may be on par with the official app, if you can live with their font and image choices. It is by no means a superior app, so an extra five dollars does not make sense here. It is a notable app, but the official app is the one to get.
Geocaching with Geosphere
Geosphere is less elegant than the official geocaching app from Groundspeak. You are able to add caches from within the app through a built in web browser. The interface and usability of this solution is not the best. It works better than having to leave the app, but it is still a flawed way to add your caches. The app does feature a built in map and is highly optimized to help you find your downloaded caches. The app helps you understand how to use it through a series of how to videos. These videos can be accessed right within the app. The app is comprised of five tabs on the bottom. These include: GPS, Target, Search, Data, and More. GPS will tell you where you are and which way to go to reach the cache. This view also gives you access to maps. The map is implemented well. It provides a way to continually see where you are at and where you need to be going. You are given options between map, satellite, or hybrid modes. The target area gives you access to all the info you need to know about the cache. The search tab gives you the ability to search through your downloaded caches. The data tab helps you download new caches to your iPhone. Overall it is great, but many will prefer the official app because of its ability to load up caches more efficiently.
GC Buddy is an alternative to the official app. The app is very simple and does not offer a huge amount of features. The app launches with a simple cache list view. There are no other tabs or areas of the app except for detailed info on the loaded caches. To load caches you can manually enter data or download them from the web. The app features a quick and easy way to get to geocaching websites, but it is not an elegant solution. The cache page includes about this cache, parking, clues, waypoints, cache location, notes, and connectivity. The app features no built in maps and relies upon Google Maps, OffMaps, GeopherLite, or iGeocacher. The app does feature a built in compass with how far away you are from the cache. In most situations looking at a map is extremely helpful. The app feels incomplete and is a decent app, but not one of the first to pick up.
Geocache Viewer is the most bare bones geocaching app. The app features no way to actually find and install new caches without transferring them from another computer. The lack of ability to install new caches on your device is a real limiting factor. The app features no way to actually navigate to your caches which is a real let down. The cache page displays the coordinates, difficulty, terrain, size, date hidden, description, logs, and a hint. You are also able to indicate if you it is found, not found, or DNF (did not find). The cache page also lets you add your own personal field notes. The lack of navigating to caches from this app make it a show stopper for most geocachers.