Useful apps (from other people) for Mappt users

When developing software, it’s important not to overload with features that the majority of people don’t have a need for. Instead we are working to make the best Android based software for getting your data from the field to the office.

So rather than adding a lot of unnecessary bells and whistles, we have been looking for Play store apps that are either free or low cost and can be useful tools in the field for Mappt users.  We collected a short list below of useful 3rd party apps but will add and update this as we find or are told about apps that can help you do your job.

As these are 3rd party apps we can’t guarantee they will work on your tablet or be supported in the future but all are pretty popular with a good user base.  Any problems or questions about these apps should be directed to the developer

If you have any to add to the list, just let us know and we’ll have a look and if we like them we’ll add them to the list.

So here they are:

Bluetooth GPS (Free)
An absolute necessity if you want to tie in a GPS that’s more accurate than the one found in most tablets.  Just run the app and connect with your Bluetooth enabled GPS and watch the GPS error circle shrink. Mappt automatically uses this signal, overriding the inbuilt GPS. Great price too.

Clinometer + bubble level (Free / $0.99)
Great in built clinometer / level for looking at geological and other structures and saves you carrying an extra tool around but you will have to add the data to Mappt manually.

GPS Status (Free / $3.49)
Great little tool for working out what your GPS and other general locational data including:

  • GPS error (m)
  • GPS satellites with a fix / available
  • Pitch / roll
  • Altitude (MSL)
  • Brightness (lux)
  • Lat / Long
  • Orientation / heading

Unfortunately the free version has the occasional annoying ad at the bottom. The PRO version removes the ads and adds additional features including:

  • show/store/edit multiple waypoints and use them on the Radar for navigation; and
  • pressure, rotation, temperature, humidity values (if device supports them).

If you are also using Bluetooth GPS , this app will show your external GPS error margin but not the satellite fix data.

AirDroid (Free)
Great app for linking your android tablet to a PC over a wireless network (or over the internet) and comes with a number of really useful features including:

  • Desktop SMS Send & receive SMS from the comfort of your computer. Faster typing and navigation with the full keyboard and large screen.
  • Files and Media Move photos, videos, ringtones and any other files on and off Android, all without a USB cable.
  • Find Phone / Device  Locate and lock your Android when it’s lost. Cannot get it back? Simply wipe all data remotely and the innovative intruder feature that takes a photo of the “intruder” who tried but failed to unlock your device.
  • Manage Apps Easier way of app search, installation and apk export.
  • Camera and Screenshot See through the lens of your Android camera, front and back. Or stream the screen of your Android in nearly real-time.
  • Phone Calls, Clipboard , Url transfer and more Call contact, share clipboard content, push url to Android and more features awaiting your discovery.

ES File Explorer File Manager (Free)

Judged by our developers as the best explorer and file manager available for Android it allows easy linking up to Windows based systems all-round the best tool of its type for Android, with over 10 million users, it’s hard to argue with those numbers.


Using an External GPS Unit with Mappt

During the development of Mappt for Android, we tested Mappt on a range of devices.  Much to our disappointment, we discovered that the quality of the internal GPS hardware varies greatly across devices.

The accuracy of your GPS unit may not matter when you are dodging angry dogs on your daily jog, but definitely matters when you are geo-tagging assets in the field.

Despite what it looks like, I wasn't looking for a dropped contact lens.

Despite what it looks like, I wasn’t looking for a dropped contact lens.

To overcome this issue, you can use a commonly-available external GPS unit via Bluetooth.  While Mappt does not include native support for external GPS units, there is a workaround available.

The workaround requires the installation of a free app from the app store, as well as a minor settings change.  The app makes use of a feature, named “Mock Locations”, which is intended for app developers to test their software, but in our case, allows us to easily make use of an external GPS unit.

Step 1 – Find a device

In our testing, we used a Qstarz GPS unit, but we expect any unit will work, so long as it can be paired to an Android device.

Step 2 – Pair the device

Pair your bluetooth device with your tablet.

Step 3 – Install the free app

Download and install Bluetooth GPS – a free app from the market.

Step 4 – Run the app

Run the installed app.  If required, in which case the app should tell you, you will need to go to your tablet’s settings and enable Mock Locations.

Back in the app, check the box for “Enable Mock GPS Provider.”

Select your external device and click the Connect button. You should see it start capturing data.

Step 5 – Profit!

Run Mappt as normal and enable the GPS by clicking the satellite icon in the top action bar.  Mappt will use the best GPS available to it, which in this case should be your external device.  Win!

Much better!

Much better!

There are a wide range of Android devices and an equally wide range of external GPS units available.  Thankfully, the method described in this post will allow you to overcome shoddy GPS readings!