Offline and out of touch

We recently went to Vegas on vacation and during the trip spent several days at Red Rock Canyon. It was a beautiful spot and a lot of fun to explore.

Red Rock Canyon

We brought our usual geocaching setup — Garmin 60csx for navigation and on the Motorola Droid for paperless info and field notes. Verizon gives us pretty good coverage and we can usually access from almost anywhere, but we weren’t so lucky in the canyon where it was spotty at best. Usually we had no signal at all.

If you’re using Blackstar on the blackberry (one of the few apps to currently support the bcaching API to access your geocaching data and store it locally in the phone) it’s not a big deal because you can load the caches into the device when you have a signal then you’re good to go whether you have a signal or not.

But if you’re using the mobile website only, it becomes woefully inadequate with no signal. We could still find traditionals since they were loaded into the garmin, but we didn’t have the information we needed to do earth caches and multis. We also couldn’t record field notes after each find/dnf so we kept track of what we did in the garmin and plugged them into bcaching later.

What would be nice is if more mobile geocaching app developers would take advantage of the bcaching API… like geobeagle or georg for android, cachemate, etc.

Another possibility is to take advantage of html5 features that have been showing up in various mobile browsers, especially webkit. Using application caching, local storage and even local SQL databases it would be possible for a well written web app to function reasonably well without a reliable signal.


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