App Review – GPS Tracker: Retrace, Activity Tracker

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Are you a biker who wants to keep track of his mileage, estimated calories spent, location on a map, or route traveled? Are there hiking trails you have access to that have online trail information (e.g., .GPX files) you want to download and then follow on a map? Do you enjoy running, cross country skiing or canoing, and want to keep track of your outings and estimated calories spent? Would you like to be able to email your location to a friend so they can see where you are? How about just being able to put a marker on a map with a label and be able to find it later? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then Retrace may be for you!

“GPS Tracker: Retrace” is a “Built For BlackBerry” app in BBWorld. It’s $4.99 and is 11MB downloaded (Although it’s sitting on my device as a 20MB file, I assume due to userdata.). There are 101 reviews and it earns 4.5 out of 5 stars.

I skate, or more specifically, longboard, for fun, exercise, and spiritual growth. I’ve been involved with longboarding for about 8 years now and have developed a few specific routes or “loops” that I follow that are the most fun due to the varied terrain (hills), scenery, and safety factors. When I started, I remember wishing I had a way of keeping track of my “sessions,” as we call them, just for the fun of knowing how many miles I covered. I had a hand held GPS unit that I believe was from Garmin that was useful for this, but I never really tried to set it up and use it. It was a little complicated and needed access to several satellites (or so it indicated), and always seemed to require a good clear sky and no obstructions like trees or bridges or whatever. I forgot about my interest in keeping track of my sessions until a few months ago, when I was poking around BBWorld and happened upon the app “GPS Tacker: Retrace,” (Retrace) and subsequently bought it. I finally gave it a try a couple weeks ago, and I am addicted.

When you open up the app, swipe down from the top and select “help,” you’ll see the comments below about what the developer intends for the app.

Other comments from the DEV can be found in BBWorld.
Other comments from the DEV can be found in the app description in BBWorld.

Tab back to the main screen, down to get to the settings, and touch “options” to set up the app to your liking. I set the units to Imperial, since I’m from ‘Murica, and set the theme to dark.

Some options: units and weight for estimated calories spent. (default weight pictured)
Some options: units and weight for estimated calories spent. (default weight pictured)

To use the estimated caloric expenditure feature, enter your weight, back out with the arrow, and then select the appropriate activity from the main menu below.

Main menu. Specify your activity before hitting start to estimate your calories spent.
Main menu. Specify your activity before hitting start to estimate your calories spent.

The activities at the top are self explanatory and are used to calibrate the estimated calories spent. There is no option for longboarding, which really doesn’t matter to me, so I just leave that option alone, or “unspecified.” Next hit the start button in the middle of the screen and begin your activity!

During your activity, you have three options, “details,” “map,” and “elevation.” The details screen is the one I use throughout my sessions, although I rarely refer to the app when I’m skating. The maps screen shows you where you are during your activity and the elevation screen is a chart that indicates the changes in elevation you’ve made.

In-track details view.
In-track details view.
In-track map view. (Showing complete, finished track.)
In-track map view. (Showing complete, finished track.)
In-track elevation view. (Again, showing complete track.)
In-track elevation view. (Again, showing complete track.)

When you’re finished with your activity, you can save your track for viewing or sharing. All you have to do is select “stop track” at the bottom of your screen, confirm by hitting “end track” in the dialogue box, enter a name for your track in the “name” field, and hit “save.” Your saved tracks will show up in order of their creation date. It is also possible to email your library of tracks to another device as a backup/restore or share feature, which I have successfully done between my two phones as a test.

List of saved tracks. These could be made yourself or downloaded.
List of saved tracks. These could be made yourself or downloaded. Totals on top are cool.

There is another feature called “retrace,” that allows you to follow a saved track on a map. I haven’t found a need for this, but can imagine it might be useful if one is walking around the city all day and you want to find a store you walked by earlier or something. There is another app that allows you to easily place a marker on a map that you can refer to later and map a route to; it’s called “Pinguin,” and there’s a review of that app here. I have both apps on my phone and if all I wanted to do was save the location of my parked car, I would use Pinguin. Pinguin also integrates with BBMaps to give you turn by turn navigation directions. To be fair, “Retrace” offers far more functionality and the comparison to Pinguin seems to end here. The retrace feature can also be used in the event that you’ve downloaded a track and want to follow it, again, something I haven’t found a use for, but I can see could be desirable. I assume there are trails available online for state parks around the country (U.S.), and/or other types of downloadable tracks like historic/scenit tours of areas of cities, etc. In any event, to use the retrace feature, press “start” from the main screen, hit the overflow menu on the lower right side, select “retrace route,” and you’ll see a list of your saved and/or downloaded routes. Select one, and the map will open up within the app and you will see your location marked by a box and a line indicating your progress along the saved route, as shown below.

What "retrace" feature looks like. Yellow is saved track, red is current progress.
What “retrace” feature looks like. Yellow is saved track, red is current progress.

If you want to email someone your location from within the app, you can do so quite easily by touching the overflow menu and select “email location.” The recipient will receive your coordinates and they will be able to see where you are merely by touching them in the body of the email. The coordinates act like a link and automatically open up a browser window and go to your location in Google Maps. I have used this to successfully text my location as well, by copying and pasting the information from the composed email into an SMS window. The coordinates work the same on BB10 either way and I’m assuming this would be the case on other platforms.

Tangentially, I copied and pasted the raw coordinates into BBMaps and was unable to find the location, but they did work in BeMapsPro, which uses Google Maps. You can also easily share your location via BBMaps in a very integrated fashion with the share feature, via any number of means, including SMS, email, NFC, etc., so while the share location feature of Retrace works fine, it is not as easy to use or as robust as the native BBMaps version. However, if you’re already in the app, and want to share your location via email, it is quick and efficient.

Sample waypoint. FYI - not a good idea when skating.
Sample waypoint. FYI – not a good idea when skating.

The last feature the app offers is “waypoint,” which allows you to put a marker on the map and name the marker to help you refer to it later. These points may also be included in pre-saved routes you might download online. If you want to mark a spot on your route while using Retrace, simply hit the “+waypoint” button in the menu at the bottom of your screen, whether you are in the “details,” “map,” or “elevation” screens, or alternatively, you may hit the overflow menu and select it there. You’ll be asked to give a name to the waypoint and then hit “ok” to save. Waypoints appear as little blue markers on your map and include among other things, the name, coordinates, and the date/time it was created. After saving your waypoint, you may view it on your map by selecting “map” at the top of your screen.

Options for sharing tracks.
Options for sharing tracks.

All in all, Retrace seems a great activity tracker that offers robust functionality. I am merely using it to keep track of my skate sessions, but there are other features like estimated calories spent, downloading pre-stored tracks (possibly like hiking trails), highlighting points of interest with waypoints, and sharing your tracks with others. I have been using the app for a few weeks now, and have tested the features I don’t use myself, and all the functionality works well.

As an added bonus, the developer, Laura Zajac seems very responsive to questions and there is an easy way to contact her via email within the app by swiping down in the home screen, selecting “options,” and then selecting “send feedback/request feature” at the bottom of the menu. Alternatively, you can email Laura from the HUB at ulti.org@gmail.com, and you can visit the Retrace website at http://retrace.mobi for more information. I recommend Retrace and wish you safe travels if you decide to use it on your next adventure!

james pisano

RIM/BB fan since 2009. Wouldn't consider entrusting my career, life or privacy to another platform. Foremost, I am a student of life. Some likes: longboarding, nature, Baltimore Orioles, technology, driving, music, reading and Taoism. Politically independent.

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