I’ve been using Neongeo by Can-o-Worms for the past four months and it’s quickly become my tool of choice for geocaching in the suburbs.
It was the first Android app to take advantage of the Geocaching Live API, released by Groundspeak in mid-2011, and at less than half of the price of the Groundspeak app (AU$4.26), it’s a winner in my view.
The developer Mikko Sarvela from Helsinki is quite responsive to bug reports and feature requests, and although the updates were at one stage occurring almost everytime I switched my phone on, it’s slowed down to a more acceptable level.
The screenshots for this review were captured from my HTC Wildfire S, which has a small screen (320 x 480), but is still quite enough for this app.
The opening screen (above) is simple and clearly laid out: Map, Geocaches, Setting and Info.
I like the layout of the map view. The icons are clear and easy to understand and the list of nearby caches is handy. You can use either Google Maps (map or satellite view) or OpenStreetMap for the background. If the map fails to show the nearest geocaches to your location, there is a small blue cache icon in the top right corner. I have found at times that this takes up to a minute to download and display – even when the data connection is good.
The cache listing page (tap twice on the geocache name) is clean and packed full of information. Scrolling down the page reveals the most recent log. The hint is nicely tucked away – should you need it.
Setting your target is easy – I preferred pressing on the cache icon for a second – and the compass overlaid on the map is great. Once near the geocache I switched to the compass mode, though that’s not necessary. Either way, the app responds quickly and quiet accurate.
Logging a cache is simple. You can log in the field, dip or drop trackables and upload a photo fairly easily. I prefer to use the field note option, which can upload and sit waiting for you when you return home and have time to compose a thoughtful log.
There is an option to navigate to the cache using Google Navigation, which provides voice turn-by-turn instructions. This is great for when you’re driving and don’t want to be distracted by looking at your phone.
It took a little bit of searching, but it is possible to add personal waypoints via the Edit menu option (when the cache listing is displayed) and then editing the coordinates. This is handy for when you need to enter the next stage in a multi or puzzle cache. On that topic, the app will also allow you to use your solved (sometimes called corrected) coordinates in the Personal Cache Note from the Geocaching website, which you can enter at home. I noticed that Groundspeak have recently added the ability to edit coordinates for this purpose, but I’m sure if the app has been updated to use this functionality. I’m sure it will appear soon.
You can view a list of all the geocaches in your database by heading to the Geocache page. There is a search field, which is quick at filtering the list. You can also filter by geocode type, sort by name, age or distance, and you can import gpx files from your SD card.
The Options page contains a lot of setting that I won’t go into here. Needless to say, you have a lot of customising and tweaking at your fingertips.
The Info page shows you caching name, finds, favourites, trackballs and pocket queries. The finds count will tick over as you find geocaches in the field, even if you save them as field notes. This is very handy as it can save you from the embarrassment of passing that important milestone you were saving for that 5/5 ammo can in the Blue Mountains.
The trackables section is good for grabbing and discovering trackables in the field, but I’m not sure why you need to refresh it each time to display those in your inventory.
The pocket queries list is a great addition, and being able to download them can save some time when you out in the field with a poor phone signal. But unfortunately you can’t download all at once, and the time it takes for each one to parse is quite long – about a minute for each 1000 cache PQ.
Overall, this is a great geocaching app packed full of features – and the list keeps on growing. Since I made the screen captures last month a number of new features have been added.
If you’re looking for a geocaching app for your Android device that is full of features and works lightning fast, you be mad not to part with a few dollars for this one.
- Fast connection to geocaching.com via API
- Clean and clear map and compass makes navigating to cache easy
- Logging geocache logs and trackables easy and reliable
- Updating of nearest caches in map view is sometimes slow
- Pocket queries must be downloaded one at a time
- App sometimes shuts down for no reason while in Settings page