apple iPhone mapping Photography

Earthscape 2.0

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at the iPhone application earthscape, and since then they have upgraded to version 2.0 available on iTunes

They did a lot of nice improvements on the user interface, making it a lot easier to navigate, instead of being spread across several pages, it is all on one main page.

There is a noticeable in the camera control, I did several tests, on the shutter timing to the shutter sound effect, and it is pretty close. On the old version, it seemed that it would take several seconds (3 or 4) after the completion shutter sound effect for the picture to actually be taken, in version 2.0 it seems like the image is done very shortly (< 1 second) after the shutter sound effect.

It also looks like there is an improvement in upload speeds, driving in areas of little or no coverage like Eure North Carolina, no matter what they say there is NO at&t coverage in Eure.

This picture  was taken several hours before it was actually uploaded, and it is within feet on the map of where the picture was take, and this was done while the iPhone indicated “No Service” and earthscape reported that it was unable to contact the server. 

This picture  was taken pretty much where earthscape is reporting it was taken.

I still am having an occasional application crash, usually when uploading a picture, even though the app crashed, it seems the picture gets uploaded about half the time.

It would also be nice to have some documentation, the intro video doesn’t quite cut it.

apple iPhone mapping Photography smartphone

Earthscape Errors

Daliesque MacBook Pro

Daliesque MacBook Pro


I have been playing with earthscape for a while now and I still think it is pretty cool app, but needs some work, and a couple of days ago I talked about these errors, but didn’t have any details. Well I made a trip up to DC and had some issues with the accuracy, as well as some in the office this morning…

Here is an example of a picture that is right on, standing still in a Starbucks parking lot…

This picture was taken real close to the location on the map, but not uploaded for a while (Maybe an hour), because of crappy coverage, I had several EDGE bars, but data was not moving to the earthscape servers.

Sitting at a signal light 4 3G bars of coverage, I get this

Here is an example of the moving vehicle issue. This picture was taken while going over the Rappahannock river, but the earthscape app puts me a mile down the road…

Then we have this picture which was taken about 30 feet from this picture and neither are correct.

This picture and this picture were taken at the exact same place, yet are miles apart.

It seems to me that unlike the way the iPhone Camera app works by GPS tagging the picture when it is taken, the earthscape app doesn’t do that and as far as I can tell the picture isn’t GPS tagged until the “Use Photo” button is pushed. The question is then why doesn’t earthscape tag the picture as soon as it is taken, because they don’t I checked, unless they decided to .

Just to clarify I do understand how GPS works, and limitations when under cover etc…, but the same device in the same environment should have the same error regardless of application.


GoogleMap Driving Times

I am taking my first road trip since I got the iPhone, and I decided to do a head to head with the google maps app and my Garmim GPSmap 60CSx. The routing in some cases needs some work, or at least a way to change routing preferences, because it pretty much insisted on sending me to the highway, even though city streets were over 5 miles shorter. Once I got to highway 13 the google maps app and the GPS were in agreement on the route, but not even close on the dirving time.
Both units were within a mile on the distance to go, but the time was over an hour off. The google maps apphad the driving time a full hour and twelve minutes longer then the GPS. Highway 13 on the Eastern Shore pretty much averages 55, and real world speeds are a bit faster. The google maps app figured out to an average speed of 40, while the GPS came in with a more realistic 55. So I guess the moral of the story is let the google maps apps route you, or locate you (it does a real good job at that, close to my GPS), but don’t rely too much the drive time.
Sorry about the quality of the GPS screenshot, it was taken at night, with the iPhone at 55 mph.




Nottoway Not a River

I am in the middle of re writing the mapping parts of my KayakVB, and even though I have made the decision to go with Google Maps, I still look at the others for reference.

While I was looking around, I noticed that the Nottoway River had disappeared, well not really disappeared, I guess omitted would be proper term here. Live search acknowledges the existence of the Nottoway at some zoom levels, but then they just dump it. While Yahoo and Google maps don’t even show most of it, well at least in map view aerial views would be a little hard to hide, but as far as Google and Yahoo maps are concerned the Nottoway river ends about 2 miles South of Lambs Virginia around 36.97N and 76.95W.

I will give Google a couple of points, in the fact that you can at least search for “Nottoway River” on the Maps page and it gets you within 3 miles of the upper section of the river, while searching maps page also returns a location near the Nottoway, about 7 miles away from the google result. The search from Yahoo is well lacking, you can forget about searching their maps for anything blank river, unless oh course you are looking for River Kentucky, unless it is a fairly major river, but even then the results can be sketchy like search Yahoo maps for the Colorado River, it just point you to the middle of the state.

Live Search

Yahoo Maps

Google Maps

I am willing to bet, that the underlying problem is with the underlaying data feed, but I am not going to track that down probably Navteq or Teleatlas, being as both Yahoo and Google essentially have the same error.

Yes I know the maps from all three are provided for free, and I get what I pay for… 🙂


Mapping Decisions

My kayaking site KayakVB has been behaving itself for 3 years now, with very little change, and that lack of change is really starting to be apparent. I have decided to essentially do a complete re-write.

Probably the most popular section is the launch site section, that details kayak and small boat launch sites in Southeast Virginia, and I figured that would be that ideal place to start, I guess because I was never really happy with it. I settled on using Yahoo maps over Google, because Yahoo had much better satellite coverage for the area and for the most part Google was still using 16 meter Landsat imagery. The other thing that I was not supported at the time was the directions to/from here capability.

Then there was Microsoft Maps, which at the time was really not in contention with Google or Yahoo, the aerial/satelite imagery was from the 80’s and in some cases erosion and storms had completely changed the landscape, and they offered no API to speak of, and at the time Mapquest has no real aerial or satellite views

Well things have changed, Google now has better resolution then Yahoo, and Live has both of them beat as far as resolution goes (especially where Birds Eye is available), but maybe not in the freshness of imagery, and Mapquest just completely missed the boat

For comparison here are screen shots pretty much centered on 36.708094 North and 75.970427 West or here

Google Maps

Yahoo Maps

Microsoft ( Virtual Earth

Aerial View

Birds Eye View

TerraServer (aka The USGS National Map)

As a point of reference, the Virtual Earth Birds Eye image is the most current, but I guess that is evident by the nearly completed construction.

Image Freshness

Image freshness is another big factor in my decision, below is a very drastic comparison, but I guess it goes to show how nothing is really permanent. The first image is USGS imagery circa 1990, and the second and third images are, as far as I can tell are from 2005 maybe 2006.

TerraServer 1990 Image

This is the confluence of the the Blackwater River and the North Landing River in Virginia Beach Va. The peninsula is very prominent in this image, but when you fast forward 25 years, things a quite different.

VirtualEarth Image ~2005

As you can see the peninsula is nearly gone, and you can barely see a small island in the center of the image where the tip of the peninsula once was.

VirtualEarth Image ~2005

This is looking East, and the erosion is really evident here, I think I may take the Kayak out here this weekend and get some pictures of what is left.

All this being said, I am more confused then before, I guess the only decision I have made, is that I probably wont be using Yahoo Maps going forward. There just isn’t the popularity, as there is with Google Maps. VirtualEarth is the long shot, and I’ll probably end up with Google Maps.



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