Today we rolled out a few new social features on cloud.gaiagps.com. You can go set some profile info, and your public profile page links to your recent trips (here’s my public profile).
This is the bare bones of the feature, and you’ll see it evolve over the next few weeks. Websites (unlike apps) lend themselves to quick, iterative improvement, and we like to take advantage of that. If you are watching closely, you might notice we are releasing the website most days.
Right now, you can set a pic, username, bio, location, and connect with Facebook. Coming up, we’re working on letting you follow your friends, better information-grabbing from Facebook, an improved UI, and more.
Let us know what we can do to make Gaia GPS and cloud.gaiagps.com awesome for you. Email us at email@example.com, to reach the whole team.
While we are pushing improvements to cloud.gaiagps.com daily now, I want to spotlight one update that went out today – better file imports.
Uploading GPX files on the import page is now much faster, and the site can handle larger files. Files can be up to 50mb, which should accommodate almost any GPX file.
We get a lot of interesting reports back from people using Gaia GPS in the wild, everything from tracking wolves, to research in Mongolia, to climbing Everest. One email we received today made me really remember why we started this whole thing in the first place.
Like these folks, I’d found myself lost in the woods, even with a map. And no one came by to guide me out with Gaia GPS:
…the hikers we encountered up there were indeed totally lost and headed into very difficult and dangerous terrain. Steep cliffs with thousand foot drops were less than a few hundred yards ahead of them. Our jaws dropped when we heard them say where they thought they were. Seriously.
By showing them the little arrow on Gaia on an iPad Mini, which PROVED where they were, and PROVED without a doubt as no map could ever do. They were NOT where they thought they were, GAIA helped convince them we were correct and they were not. They were lost, if temporarily so, and on dangerous ground. Like a cat going up a tree, it was way harder going down than up.
I use caps sparingly, but wanted to be clear how GAIA was better at that moment in the field, than a map. One of our patrolmen then gave them his own expensive land map, as well wisely as his cell phone number, as you shall see, and we pointed them out. They quickly became lost again, even with a land map, and wisely called us back on their cell, and I went back down and led them out to the proper trail.
We posted a sweet update to cloud.gaiagps.com that greatly improves the pages that show Track Details. You can check out an example of a new track page, detailing a trail near Scott Mountain. These are the pages that you can share with friends (or link directly to the slideshow even), and review stats, graphs, the map, and photos.
We improved these pages by showing the important info (photos and text) at the top of the page, and grouping things you can do with a track (like download data or get directions) to the right sidebar. At the same time, we fixed numerous usability issues and bugs – both for mobile and desktop users.
In addition, users may also notice that all of the track pages, gallery page, and map pages load quickly, because we have been working on optimizing speed in general.
Go on a hike this weekend, and make sure to share your track! We think your loved ones will like the new pages.
We were delighted to get Apple’s newsletter this morning, featuring screenshots of Gaia GPS on top. The newsletter links to the “Elevating the Expedition” verse Apple made to show the iPad and Gaia GPS in the Himalayas, and the newsletter complements the story that is still running on the front of apple.com.
In addition, we noticed on Friday that both Gaia GPS and Skipper were included in Apple’s new Camping & Hiking iTunes feature. Not only are the apps featured, but they are ranked prominently (1st and 2nd) in their categories in the feature.
It’s starting to seem like you can’t use iTunes without running into one of our apps! Our simple topo apps, Offline Topo Maps, is also heavily featured in the Education category, in various collections, which leads to various bulk education orders.
Pretty neat, and it’s nice to see the deck being stacked for a vigorous little company like us!
Go look at the Main Map page today, and you will see millions of tracks and POIs representing places you can visit outdoors. Click items on the maps to find out more, and download trip data, or browse the list of nearby reports on the left.
Users of Gaia GPS on iOS and Android have long seen similar POIs overlaid on the map, as have users of our company’s original website trailbehind.com. But, the data we just launched on the GaiaCloud online map is much more expansive and recent. This data is also periodically re-indexed by our crawler, and includes fresh information from sources like Wikipedia, EveryTrail, and of course GaiaCloud.
Displaying these trip reports on the main GaiaCloud map is our first step in sunsetting TrailBehind.com, and fully integrating the web crawler and trip data into the Gaia GPS platform. TrailBehind was our first project when we founded this company, and some of its ideas and technology still suffuse the work we do today!
For this update, all of us users have Gaia’s newest employee Josh Braegger to thank, who is an amazing all-around engineer, and has contributed a bunch to both the GaiaCloud website and Android app in his first couple of months. And of course, Anna Hentzel Johnson, for building the original TrailBehind crawler, about 5 years ago.
We released a small Android update that has several tweaks and bug fixes, mostly for the new route-maker. You can download it on the Google Play store.
We hope you find making routes a little cleaner and more touchy-feely on Android. You can read the full release notes here.
The most important change in version 8.1 of Gaia GPS for iOS is the new ability to “auto-publish” your tracks. There are many smaller changes that you can read about in the releases notes, but that’s the big one.
If you are the sharing type, you can now flip a switch in Gaia GPS to automatically share all of your tracks, on the GaiaCloud public gallery. Or, you can also publish individual tracks rom the Details screen in the app. By doing this, you are helping other people find their way, and letting them use your data to navigate in the forest.
Previously, you could share a track with friends using the app, but to actually make the track public to all people, you had to go to cloud.gaiagps.com. With the 8.1 release, we expect to see an exponential increase in the amount of tracks published, since you can now do it from the app.
Within a few minutes of releasing this update, we are already seeing over 10% more public tracks, and we’ll see many thousands of tracks go public by next week it looks like. Here’s a new public track, brought to you by someone wandering around Italy.
Anyways, lot’s more to come for the season. We’re in the middle of our big spring development effort, and we’ll be rolling out a lot more great changes across iOS, Android, and the web.
Many users have asked us for controls on cloud.gaiagps.com to manage data en masse. So, now the pages to view your tracks (and photos, waypoints, routes, and maps) have typical controls to select many items, and set those items to delete or not sync to your devices.
In software, I really do think it’s the little things that count, and starting off with a simple base and working with users to understand their wants and needs leads to the best sort of software. GaiaCloud started off without any web front-end at all – just a service that synced tracks and waypoints (not even photos or maps) between devices, intended to keep that data backed up, and for convenience. That’s what we considered to be the “minimum viable product.”
With all the effort we’ve been able to put into GaiaCloud recently, though, the project has bloomed terrifically, and the website has become one of the distinguishing characteristics of Gaia GPS.
I wanted to take a blog post today to share about some improvements we’ve made to GaiaCloud, along with stats about who is syncing data.
First off, pop over to the Main Map and Trail Gallery, and see the detailed footsteps and photographs of intrepid adventurers from all over the world. We hope you find both pages to be fast and easy-to-use, in helping you find places to go and plan your trips. We have been working to simplify the interface and optimize speed.
We’re putting a lot of work into GaiaCloud, because it’s getting a ton of use. Below you can see a snapshot of our internal stats dashboard. With the recent Apple feature and improvements to the website to make it useful without the iOS or Android app, sign-ups have never been stronger, and we just passed 20,000 people syncing with GaiaCloud in the past week.
From all this usage, the data is piling up. With about 140,000 tracks and 1.4 million waypoints synced so far, Gaia GPS is spending a lot of time in the woods. Look for a big surge in “Public” tracks next week, as the new Gaia GPS release goes live for iOS, which lets app users easily publish one or all of their tracks.