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Wanderings tracker vs GPSLogger

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Wanderings tracker vs GPSLogger

Summary: after 9 months, the GPS data being logged by GPSLogger on Android looks good to me. At least good enough for Wanderings’ location tracking and heatmap.

One casualty of my switch from iPhone to Android is my own Wanderings app, a lightweight GPS tracker that Brad and I worked on together. There’s an iPhone app that tracks your movements and records data and a webapp that displays the data. But we don’t have an Android version of our tracker and I’ve been unmotivated to learn enough Android to write one.

I have been running Mendahk’s excellent GPSLogger though and it is faithfully recording my location every day to GeoJSON and CSV files in Google Drive. I finally got around to collecting all that data and visualizing it with our web app. Qualitatively it looks the same as the data collected a year ago by the Wanderings tracker. That’s good! See screenshots below.

I haven’t done a deep quantitative comparison. But GPSLogger recorded 218,451 points over 284 days, of which 90,877 points were more than one minute apart from each other (a cutoff we use). By comparison our own tracker only stored 6248 locations for me over 574 days. That’s 319 points a day compared to 11! GPSLogger calmed down a whole lot though starting in September, down to about 70 points a day. I suspect that’s when I disabled passive location tracking, resulting in many fewer points logged.

Still GPSLogger is recording 7x as many points as Wanderings. The extra points are harmless to the visualization output but they do incur some storage and processing overhead. The Wanderings tracker is using the iOS Significant Location Change service and only seems to record points when you’re really moving. GPSLogger is configurable in recording granularity. I have it being somewhat aggressive: GPS/GNSS locations, network locations, and a 60 second logging interval with a 10 meter distance filter to log a new point.

I went ahead and looked at distances between points in the GPSLogger output using geopy’s calculation . A whole lot of pairs of points are less than 20 meters apart. I don’t really know what’s correct here, since you do want to capture data with fidelity when the subject is moving. Probably overthinking it. Here’s a quick and dirty histogram of distances for all pairs less than 100 meters apart.

And here’s the promised gallery of app screenshots. Two similar time periods, one year apart. The older is the iPhone tracker and the newer is GPSLogger on Android. They really do look similar.

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Wanderings tracker vs GPSLogger

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