Real time GPS tracking on the Nokia N95

I exercise 5 days a week, and much of this is running. While I can be found in local gyms on occasion, I try to do as much of this running as possible for free. For in using a treadmill, with its diligent, brainless constancy, I subjugate my running activity to the Gestell of its designers and the networks of people and things that maintain that thing as a predictable machine, and me as its consumer. I become some totally useless, galloping form of what Heidegger calls Bestand in the process.

Enter GPS and Google Maps, which together offer tangible, and ludicrous alternatives to the regimentation of gym apparati. With these marvels of our age I can, in theory, monitor and regulate my own running, and in doing so keep costs down, like the careful consumer I am. And what the hey, biofeedback loops are funnest when they involve sending data approximately 20,000 kilometres into space and back again, then across 2000 kilometres of Internet and back again to my Macbook Pro so I can enjoy a bunch of flashing lights and icons. In short, could I use my phone to log my jog?

Well, work colludes with life this week as Scott and I explore various GPS trackers for the Nokia N95. We are looking specifically for something we can deploy for a rally between a smart car and a bicycle as part of Mobile Muse‘s platform demonstration at Car Free Vancouver Day this year (Sunday June 15th).

I’m sorry to report that I’ve tried out two of them, and both failed.

Nokia Sportstracker beta didn’t work for me at all. It’s basically a heavyweight stopwatch. A stopwatch that works just fine, but that doesn’t do anything else.

MapMyTracks has an excellent website, where one can replay one’s movement on a detailed map with ease. But unfortunately, the phone app seems to go haywire at unpredictable intervals. The stop watch and distance meter ran fine until 2.56 km on my run today, then all the numbers froze. Plus, it was constantly looking for a new wi-fi hookup, which was most irritating. I came home and checked out my My Tracks page and found that the site only recorded two truncated runs : one that crashes the java applet that shows you the movie of your run, and a second one that is only 0.5 kilometres long (my daily run is about 7K).

Back to the drawing board…

10 thoughts on “Real time GPS tracking on the Nokia N95”

  1. are you sure you are not out of memory?
    try deleting all the apps on your phone except MapMyTracks, deleting all SMS messages and all pictures, audio and video and then repeating the test

    if it still goes “haywire” then it’s not probably a memory problem

    p.s. these memory issues should be much better on the N95-3 or N95 8GB both of which I would recommend over the N95-1s that we all have BUT as far as i can tell the memory management of S60 apps is flawed; memory management is one thing that apple got right on the iPhone and that google is trying to get right with Android

  2. It’s not a memory issue, Roland – something’s actually wrong with the app. I was able, while the app was frozen, to use other apps on the phone, make calls, etc.

    Following up, I tried to log a morning walk yesterday, and the app failed to get a GPS location at all. I presume this is related to an N95 issue, as Nokia Maps has similar difficulty (the GPS in the N95 works very well – it just seems that applications have a tough time using it).

  3. i don’t know why you insist on using Nokia Maps

    is it because you don’t have a data plan?

    with my unlimited plan, Google Maps is much better (functionally and aesthetically)

  4. Nokia SportsTracker worked for me on the N95. I found it much better after the firmware update – but you’ve done that, right?

    I used it regularly for tracking walks and, aside from the sometimes lengthy delay in getting the GPS to “lock in”, it worked perfectly. I learned to launch the app before leaving the house so that by the time I got to the road the tracking feature was up and running.

    The Nokia Maps are immaterial for this app, since you’re just going to extract the data and merge it with googlemaps, right? You’re not lost, you just want a track.


  5. Yes, Richard, I did the firmware upgrade some time ago. I think the main feature request I would make in this world of hostile data plans is for the app to cache the GPS tracks for later upload to the server. Maintaining a consistent uplink is the barrier here. With no data plan I cannot use these apps.

    …unless you know something my easily dismayed mind has not yet learned about these apps?

    The reference to Nokia Maps was a sidebar- just illustrating another case where the GPS in the N95-1 is wonky (whereas the “GPS Data” app built into the N95 system on its own seems very reliable and very fast IME).

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