Summertime! Vacation time! Time to travel! We look forward to summer all year long and finally it comes and then it’s time to take off for a few days or weeks on a holiday somewhere. Being on holiday is synonymous with turning into a frenzied photographer and videographer—which is where Android comes in to play, because these smart little devices are multi-taskers.
While we’re off frolicking in some exotic location, we can’t help but think of our friends and family stuck at home. What better way to let them enjoy your experiences / rub their noses in the fact that you’re on holiday and they're not than to write travelogues? One alternative is to sort through everything and write things up after you get back home—but sorting through hundreds of photos can be time consuming… Unless, of course, you have an app that can do the work for you. Is Trip Journal a likely candidate for the job? Find out in today’s review.
Features & Use
Test device: Motorola Milestone 2
Android Version: 2.2
The app will run as of: 1.6
Permissions: Your personal information (to access contacts, etc.), system protocol, etc.
Root: Not necessary
Some users will be put off by the app at first glance: 6,5MB download and 8,5MB installed, as well as the required permissions (App Safeguard gives Trip Journal a mid-high risk rating). As far as permissions go I can assure you (from my own experience as well by having check on LBE Privacy Guard) that the app will only access your contacts list when you would expect it to, i.e. when sending an email. So far the app hasn’t accessed my system log files; the developers say that the permission is required for support.
The great thing about Trip Journal is that it creates a nice holiday vibe right from the get-go. The design is very playful and lovely (check the screenshots). The app is also highly functional. Oh, happy day! I love pretty, smart applications!
You can select to activate GPS, which, as you might imagine, is essential for plotting coordinates of places you’ve been. The GPS can be activated in the systems menu.
After you’ve sorted out the GPS there are two options: either you check out the settings or else start a new trip straight away. The settings are pretty okay, so you don’t have to feel obligated to change everything immediately. For instance, the units are set to metric under ‘General’ settings, the shortest distance is 5m and recording tracks is set to update frequently. In the interest of preserving some precious battery power you might want to change the distance to 10m and the update function to every 10 seconds. Go to ‘KMZ Export’ and enter your email address (this step isn’t necessary for pro-version users, in which case emails are sent via your personal mail client).
So far, so good? Hit the hand in the top left corner in order to access the main screen and thus start recording your first trip—just click on the stamp marked ‘New Trip’.
The tracking function records your entire route. Each time you add a ‘Waypoint’ the correct coordinates are displayed (or so the theory goes, the developers are currently working on a fix for this function).
The available actions are displayed at the bottom of the screen: add medias, memos, waypoints, record your journey and display the compass. I found that organising everything as waypoints to be the most effective. To do so, hit ‘New Waypoint’ and – aha! – a map pops up displaying the current location. Name the waypoint (e.g. 'this is where I parked my car'), hit ‘Save’ and voilà. You can then add more information to this Waypoint as you go, for instance a memo (e.g. ‘having woken up way too early, we parked the car and… blablabla’). Hit the photo icon to insert photos (via the gallery or various photo apps). Adding videos is a cinch, too (when using the full version you can simply insert them from YouTube). This process can be repeatedly ad infinitum and ad absurdum every time you create a new waypoint. Once the excursion has come to a close you can end it via the ‘Trip Admin’ hand icon in the upper right corner. The whole thing can then be shared via Facebook.
Full-fledged trips can be archived in the Film role, where you review all the information and details as well as edit should you wish to do so. Internet connection is necessary in order to share your logs with others; you can then send KMZ files for Google Earth via email, or share via Facebook export, or even by imbedding logs into blogs. I suggested that a simple export to the SD card might make sense and fell open ears: it should be possible to hook up the card to a computer with internet access in the near future, or so I am told. This is a viable option for situations in which there is no WLAN and you would rather not have to pay roaming in charges… Sending an email with a KZM file is at least 1,5MB and every photo adds another 25kB (images are reduced to 340x240 pixels for export purposes, though the originals remain the same size).
The results are splendid, provided you’ve installed Google Earth or Trip Viewer on the iTablett (an Android version is in the works). The nostalgic book design is lovely, and the track is very well done.
Trip Journal is a wonderful tool. Everyone takes pictures on holiday, right? And what’s writing a few memos here and there? The big advantage here is that your travel journal is all done by the time you get back home, and you can let your people partake in your adventures while you’re abroad. The app also has back up and restore functions so that no data gets lost. One tiny bone of contention would be the limitation to Google Earth within the Trip Viewer, but I’m hoping that new formats – such as a KMZ version for Google Maps – will become available in the not too distant future. Google Maps is as of yet not compatible with the current KMZ version.
Lite vs. Full version:
There are no ad banners in the full version. The full version also offer KMZ and Facebook support, as well as GPX export (though without photos or captions, unfortunately), Picasa export, Flickr (photos) and YouTube (videos). Waypoints can also be added manually, that is to say not only when you are actually physically on location but also later when you’re editing your track.
Screen & Controls
The UI comes in English only. Improvements could be made on the KMZ export (currently it is only possible with internet connection or email). Aside from these restrictions Trip Journal is fully functional and not reliant on internet access (save for maps, unless they can already be found in the cache). The developers tell me that offline maps are in the works.
Speed & Stability
Trip Journal has been running super smoothly without any lagging or crashing and I’ve been using it for a few weeks now.
A lite version of Trip Journal is available for free; it comes with a small ad banner. At the moment the app is on special offer and the full version can be downloaded for less than half the usual price. The full version includes support for Picasa, Flickr and YouTube as well as an option to insert waypoints manually. The support is quite good: people tend to get back to you fairly quickly.