Updated: Nov 20, 2020
iPackTravel iOS app has a module for mapping walking or hiking trails called "Map My Trail" in the Travel section. It uses GPS locationing to get location updates from GPS-enabled mobile devices to plot travel trails on the map when on the go. The app can also be used to track the routes travelled when in certain modes of transport (not when underground).
The new and improved version of "Map My Trail" is now available as a standalone app called "iPT MapTrail" ("iPT" is the abbreviation of "iPackTravel"). With a new user interface and a complete revamp of the navigation flow, iPT MapTrail app emphasised ease of use and is geared for new functionality in the near future. All new features will also be added to the iPackTravel app in due course.
Starting a New Trail
MapTrail supports all forms of travel trail mapping, be it walking, jogging, hiking, cycling or even in a transport — as long as GPS locationing is available.
After selecting an activity type for a new trail, MapTrail will set a default accuracy level and updating interval for the selected activity to balance accuracy with performance, battery consumption and appropriateness, and they are fully customisable.
As higher GPS accuracy can result in higher power consumption from the mobile device, setting appropriate accuracy allows optimal tracking for the full trail without having the battery being depleted prematurely. So, avoid going for the highest accuracy if it is not necessary, especially when in a transport.
Trails may appear jittery if the updating interval is too short. This is a result of having too many location data in too short a time frame. Longer update interval can reduce the number of data required and generate smoother trail plot on the map. Longer intervals also mean lesser processing and will reduce power usage. But it may be less accurate too.
Once the "Start Tracking" button is pressed, tracking will commence and a trail will appear on the map shortly. Constantly checking the map and using GPS locationing at the same time can consume quite some power. So, close the app (without killing it) or put the mobile device in sleep mode to allow tracking to be done in the background. This will also help to reduce power consumption and ensure the battery will last for the whole trail.
At the end of the walk / jog / cycle / drive, wake up the app and press "Stop Tracking". A "Pause" function is also provided to stop location tracking temporarily. Use it when having a long break, or under some covered structures that obstructed GPS locationing, and resume again later.
Health data can be acquired from Health app at the end of the walk / cycle (if you allowed).
When working in background mode, MapTrail may be terminated by the iOS operating system when there are resource contentions, especially when too many apps are running at the same time. It can happen also when the power level is running low. To prevent losing the trail when that happens, MapTrail will automatically save the trail on disk at every 300 metres interval.
Why not save the trail more frequently? Saving data to disk is another hardware task and consumes power too!
All trails will be saved in My Trails and can be retrieved and redrawn on the map. If the activity type is "Walk / Jog" or "Cycling", health data such as step count, flights climbed, walked distance and walking speed (iOS 14+ only) within the duration of the trail can be extracted from the Health app. In other words, health data that are not related to the trail will be excluded.
A summary of all parameters and data can also be displayed. Note that health data tracked by Health app are usually recorded in blocks of 10 minutes or maybe longer for certain types of data (walking speed). Therefore, the data obtained by MapTrail may not be the most updated the instant tracking is stopped. Do check the recorded trail again about 30 minutes after the activity to get the most up-to-date health data.
"Overall Speed" is simply taking the walked distance and divide by the total duration. This gives a general sense on the speed of your movement for the whole trail, which include resting times and other fatigue factors.
For example, if I were to go for a 40Km hike and need to estimate how much time I will need to allocate,
Based on walking speed (approx. 5Km/h), I will think that I can complete 40Km in 8 hours without rest.
Based on overall speed (approx. 4Km/h), I will allocate minimum 10 hours with rests. Of course, there are other factors to consider too.
The trail can also be shared to social media, messaging app, or save as image, etc. Post your achievements online and challenge your friends to do the same. Be healthy together.
iPT MapTrail is free to download from Apple App Store. Try it!
Update on 18 Nov 2020:
MapTrail is now armed with widgets for iOS 14+ devices. Once a new trail is started, widgets will be activated to display trail data at regular intervals. There will be no need to keep launching the app to check trail statistics when on the go.
There are 2 sizes of MapTrail widget — medium and large. The larger widget will display additional health data (shown above), which can be enabled or disabled for each new trail.