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SportyPal Tracks Hikes From Your Smart Phone For Free

The above is a map of my hike this morning up and down Ragged Mountain in Maine. It’s been automatically generated through a combination of my HTC Ozone, a smart phone running on a Windows Mobile operating system, and SportyPal, a piece of software (called an “app” by those in the know because somewhere along the line non-geeks learned what “software” meant) I’ve installed for free onto the Ozone. The HTC Ozone has a GPS unit inside it which supplies the information to the SportyPal software.

If you play with the buttons along the top of that map, you can find out exactly where Ragged Mountain is in Maine by zooming in and out and scrolling around. You also can see how fast I was going at different times, and what velocities I’d reached. A run up Mount Olympus this wasn’t: more like a meander through the woods followed by a hike up and down a ski run. This map is roughly accurate in capturing the details of my hike, losing the detail of my twisting and turning on a bike trail but never getting more than 25 feet or so off of my actual location at any time. It’s certainly enough for you to get the idea of where I went.

If you’re interested in tracking your own exercise habits over space and time, SportyPal not only saves the maps of your hikes, bikes, runs and walks, but keeps track of and ranks distance covered, speed attained and estimated calories burned. If you want, you can upload this data to an account on the website sportypal.com, although you don’t have to. If you want, you can share this data in various forms with others, although again you don’t have to. All of these services are free.

On Ragged Mountain in Maine, October 21 2009Even a person who didn’t really want to share exercise data could find SportyPal useful. If I were a travel blogger, for instance, and I wanted to share my experience walking through Venice or on a section of the Appalachian Trail, the ability to generate a map of my location over time would help to provide visual context to my written description of what I encountered. While using the SportyPal program, I was also able to take photographs like the one you see to the right with my HTC Ozone, and to do so within the SportyPal program so that I didn’t have to worry that the logging of my hike would be interrupted. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the photographs themselves are geotagged, so I can’t tell you exactly where this spot is. If a future iteration of the SportyPal program could manage this, I’d be very impressed indeed.

SportyPal is freely available not only for Windows Mobile smartphones, but for Google Android phones, Apple iPhones, Blackberry phones and Nokia models as well. This software comes with my enthusiastic recommendation.

2 comments to SportyPal Tracks Hikes From Your Smart Phone For Free

  • I’m curious what you think about potential abuse in terms of privacy. How much would you worry about using this kind of application, given the National Security Agency’s electronic surveillance programs, and the Senate Democrats’ efforts to prolong abusive spying programs under the Patriot Act? This information goes into a database, which would be available for the government to grab and use right?

    • Jim

      I wouldn’t worry about the government knowing what kind of hike I went on, and I have this program turned off when I’m not going on hikes. But this kind of program does highlight the possibility for similar programs that might track us unawares when we’re not on hikes.

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