My Tracks – Recording Your Route in Android

My Tracks - Recording Your Route in Android

I really love to ride my bike. Ever since I was a child I have been interested in questions: how fast I ride, how much distance I cover and in what time? Before the advent of cell phones, all kinds of mechanical and pseudo-electronic devices had to be installed on bicycles to get this information. In today’s world, tracking these and other trip parameters is very easy, since almost every phone has a GPS receiver. All that remains is to decide on an app. I use an excellent Android app by Google – My Tracks, available for free on Play Market.

The program is a shell in which Google maps are loaded. On top of the map, it draws the distance traveled as a line, the default color is red, but you can set the app so that the color of the line will depend on your speed. In addition to GPS routes, the app has extensive traffic statistics available, as well as graphs of speed and elevation versus distance. The app can collect statistics not only from the GPS module. It also supports external sensors connected via Bluetooth (for example, a heart rate monitor).

The program will be useful for everyone who is engaged in active recreation: athletes-runners, cyclists, motorcyclists, motorists, as well as anyone who wants to share their route with others.

Using the app

To record your track, before starting your journey, turn on the GPS receiver in your phone, launch the app and press the red button at the bottom of the screen. This will start recording your route.

Recording a track in My Tracks

You can pause or resume recording by tapping the same button again. When you have finished your walk, press the adjacent “Stop” button. The Save Track dialog box will appear, where you can optionally specify a name, activity type (for example: hiking, biking, etc.) and a description. The name of the track by default is the name of the street or town defined by Google maps.

Setting a name when saving a record

Saved track can be viewed by clicking on it. On the first screen “Map” a Google map will be loaded and superimposed on it the path you have traveled, divided into sections of equal time interval (set in the settings). Traditionally, as in Google Maps, you can choose the map view mode: map, satellite, hybrid, relief.

Map with marked track in My Tracks

On the second screen “Graph” you can see two dependencies: speed and altitude of the passed track (set in options). The graph is scalable and scrollable. By clicking on the desired mark you can view additional information about the selected section: distance, calories expended, total time spent, time in motion, average speed on the selected section, average speed on the selected section and maximum speed.

Graph of speed and altitude versus distance traveled

In the last screen “Statistics” you will see general data about the track: distance, calories spent, total time spent, time on track, average speed, average speed in track and maximum speed.

Track Statistics in My Tracks

Tracks can be exported to a memory card or uploaded to Google services. When exporting, you can choose your desired file format (as KML, GPX, CSV or TCX file).

Exporting a track to My Tracks

You can play tracks on your phone or computer. To play the track on your phone, you must have “Google Earth” application installed.

Little about settings

Among the many settings, I would like to say a few words about some of them. In the “Map” branch there is a setting of color thresholds of the track depending on the speed. You can set the minimum and maximum speed thresholds below and above which the color will change. I set it to “Dynamic Thresholds” so that they are automatically detected, since I can walk or drive. You can turn off the speed thresholds altogether by selecting “One Color”, then the entire track will be recorded in one red color.

Setting up speed thresholds

In the “Recording” settings branch, you can set the interval of voice announcements (disabled by default). Unfortunately, in version 2.0.6 (the latest at the time of this writing) they are only in English. Here you can also set the time interval between the separation markers.

Track Record Settings

Regarding the power consumption I want to say that in my case (the phone battery has a capacity of 1500 mA/h and the screen is almost always off) battery life was enough with reserve for 3 hours. Maybe the charge is enough for more time… I did not have to use it longer.