It’s a real shame that Instamapper is closing in December. If you don’t know, the service allows you to send GPS beacons and track your location. I’ve used it on many cycle rides and it’s normally the first app I use if I want to track my route. I also use it to share my cycling trips to the Social Hiking website which needs to be able to read GPS data from a third party website in order to display routes/tracks together with associated media (tweets, images etc).
I think the main reasons I’ve used Instamapper are that it is reliable and their GPS Tracker Android app does not seem to consume as much battery as other apps. Admittedly, I’ve not tested the battery usage as thoroughly as I might but it just feels less power hungry to me.
Along with many other people, I’d happily pay to use InstaMapper (it is/was a free service) but it seems that moving to a paid service is not an option because that in itself will increase InstaMapper’s costs (map fees, greater support required etc).
So, what’s next for my cycle rides? Well, if I want to show my trips on Social Hiking I’ll need to move back to using Viewranger which is the other Android GPS tracking app that is supported. I wrote a review of Viewranger as one of the first posts on this site and I like the app. However, when I used it last time, there was a problem with the app exiting/closing unexpectedly in the middle of several rides. When cycling, it’s often impossible to notice that your app has shut down unexpectedly until you have covered a significant distance – which completely ruins the whole sharing-my-route thing – so it’s essential that the app is 100% reliable. Still, that was some time ago so I’m looking forward to using the Viewranger app again in its more recent version.
Other options include apps like Endomondo (which I’ve used) and Strava, RunKeeper etc. My experience with Endomondo is that it’s a great app but the GPS data cannot be shared live with Social Hiking; it’s possible to export and share the data afterwards but ‘live’ is the key thing for Social Hiking.
I’ll also be trying several other GPS tracking Android apps as well in coming months and will report back. If you have any suggestions from your own experiences, leave a comment – thanks!