Going Outdoors? These Apps Might Help

Posted August 11th, 2016 at 12:03 pm (UTC-4)
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FILE - A hiker walks into a sea of fog over Lake Leman at the Tour de Gourze near Lausanne, Switzerland, Dec. 3, 2015. (Reuters)

FILE – A hiker walks into a sea of fog over Lake Leman at the Tour de Gourze near Lausanne, Switzerland, Dec. 3, 2015. (Reuters)

If being outdoors is your thing, there are a few apps that can simplify your life, come to your rescue if need be, and help you share some of the memories you collected along the way.

When traveling, Waze, a community-based app for Android and iOS, offers information about traffic and navigation, gridlocks, alternative routes, maps and even where to find the best prices for gas. GPS Essentials, available for the Android operating system, helps users chart and navigate their trip, add waypoints and customize a dashboard that displays their choice of vital travel information.

Whether you live in the United States or plan to visit, Parkopolo will help you plan your sightseeing, based on your interests and activities. The free app lists national parks and offers information about their location, how to get there, what kind of activities you can do there and other information. And if you are hiking or camping, AllTrails lets you search a database of more than 50,000 trails, along with pictures and advice from other enthusiasts.

If you are a nature lover, Leafsnap, developed by a partnership between the University of Maryland, Columbia University and the Smithsonian Institution, can help you identify plant species you come across in your travels. The app serves as a field guide to a variety of plant species that can identify a plant or tree based on a picture of its leaves. It also comes with hi-res images of leaves, bark, flowers, and fruits to help identification. Users can browse a list of species and mark sightings on a map.

Campers and hikers, for whom there are tons of miscellaneous apps, might want to check out Cairn, an app that logs your location – if you have no qualms about being tracked –  and helps you find cellular coverage in the outdoors and share your trip plans with friends.

If you disappear in the wilderness, Cairn will email your safety contacts your last known location, along with tips on what to do next. The Echo 112 web emergency locator, a free service, will also send your location to emergency services worldwide if you get in trouble.

In case of accidents, the American Red Cross’ First Aid app offers basic information about emergencies, such as burns and other injuries. The app includes a feature that lets users learn about injury types and basic ways to treat them. Another alternative, which is not free, is an iOS app called GotoAid. The app has instructions on how to deal with injuries, choking and various accidents.

If you’re an athlete who likes to push just a little more than you should, the Ithlete HRV App uses a Bluetooth monitor to measure Heart Rate Variability. The measurement looks at recovery rates and general wellness to help athletes determine if they should continue their activity or back off and take a break.

You might also like Charity Miles, an app that helps raise awareness for charities by sponsoring participants to run, walk or bike. Once you choose a charity, a sponsor will pay you a certain amount for every mile you cover. The app is free for iOS and Android.

If you are an art lover whose heart’s desire is to visit all the world’s finest museums – but can’t, then Google’s Art & Culture App might help. Google’s Cultural Institute has been working with more than 1,100 institutions over the past few years to bring artwork and museum tours online. The app offers an immersive experience that lets users explore more than 1,000 museums in 70 countries. Those using the Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer can take a virtual tour of the locations that interest them.

Finally, Trover, a travelogue, of sorts, helps you share all the photos and stories you collected with friends and family. Created in 2011, co-founders Rich Barton and Jason Karas wanted to make it easier for travelers to share their stories, pictures and trip recommendations. The resulting app lets members upload photos of the places they have explored and share them with like-minded friends.

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

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