Geocaching! With my iPhone!

I think I might have a new hobby.

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called "geocaches" or "caches") anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook and "treasure," usually toys or trinkets of little value. Today, well over 800,000 geocaches are registered on various websites devoted to the pastime. Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica. - Geocaching, Wikipedia

I’d been wanting to go geocaching for quite some time, but didn’t have a GPS device, until now. Well, up until a few months ago when I got an iPhone. This possibility didn’t dawn on me until last week. So I went on Saturday.

It was a bit of a pain with the the phone. I had to go to geocaching.com, put in a zip code, find a cache, write down the latitude and longitude, exit safari, fire up google maps, and type in the latitude/longitude. This page explains the process in more detail. I’m very excited about an official geocaching.com iPhone app to be released soon.

One funny thing with the GPS/Google Maps on the iPhone: the little blue dot.

Yes, the little blue dot. It’s hilarious.

Not inherently so, but somehow it still manages to pull off a striking sense of humor.

The little blue dot marks your location. When the iPhone was new (and if you were really irresponsible and stared at google maps while driving) it was fun to watch the little blue dot move along the streets. “Look! There we are! That dot is us! We’re on the freeway!” As if you didn’t already know your precise location (unless you weren’t watching the road, of course).

Then it got more fun: “Hey! Look! The little blue dot isn’t on the road anymore. It’s driving through those buildings! hahahahahahahahhahahahahahahaha!!!!!1!!11!1!” As if this were the funniest thing ever.

And it totally was the funniest thing, ever.

So, while geocaching I noticed that they fixed this little problem. Now, there’s a new problem. See, we looked up the latitude/longitude for a geocache and drove to the location. The location, however was off. Google Maps placed it on the road when it wasn’t on the road. The reason for this is because Google Maps on the iPhone is made for directions and driving and the like. Not geocaching. So if a location is not on the street, but close to a street, it thinks it should be on the street. So it moves it.

The little blue dot also stays stubbornly on the street, even if you’re not on the street. As we walked along a ditch on a little dirt road behind some houses I watched the little blue dot have a little conversation with itself. It went something like this “I’m on the dirt road! No, I must be on the street! But I’m pretty sure I’m on the dirt road. No, it can’t be. It’s a mistake. I’m on the road. Yes. The road. Whatever.” The little blue dot jumped back and forth from the street to our actual location, repeatedly.

This new feature is especially unhelpful if, for example, you’re driving down the freeway staring at your iPhone and fly off a cliff. While the little blue dot had an argument with itself, you would be flying to your death without even knowing it. What a tragedy.

iPhone, Google

Comments

  1. Jessica We had this kind of hilariousness when I test drove that Taurus X a while back. It had that built in navigator thing, and Google Maps thinks we live in a corn field. So it kept freaking out that we were leaving the road every time we went HOME. And taking it up to Yellowstone was funny too. It periodically suicided us by driving right off the edges of cliffs and into mountains. Way more entertaining than it’s supposed to be, no?

    Geocaching sounds way fun.

  2. Beth The ignorance of the blue dot sounds dangerous! Geocaching sounds fun.