GPS the open source way

Context Menu

The context menu contains a few other useful items. The POIs menu item allows you to add points of interest to the map. Adding a POI is easy: right-click on the map where you want to insert the POI, select the POIs | Add POI command, and provide the required information. Although tangoGPS doesn't support turn-by-turn navigation, you can use POIs to create routes. To do this, click on a POI and choose Go To. This puts a blue flag at the POI, and the map displays the current distance and bearing to the target (Figure 6). This also adds a brown pointer to the GPS marker that indicates the direction to the destination.

Figure 6: With POIs, you can create routes in tangoGPS.

The Photos item in the context menu hides a nifty feature: the ability to geotag photos and place them on the map. Better yet, this feature is very straightforward to use. Right-click on the map and choose photos | geotag. This opens the Photo Correlate dialog box. To add a track (this can be a GPX file or a logfile from tangoGPS), select the directory containing the photos you want to tag. Then adjust the time, so the time stamps of the track file match the time stamps of the photos. Make sure that the add photos to the tangoGPS database checkbox is ticked before you press OK. Now you should see your photos on the map.

In the tangoGPS interface, the status bar under the map area provides real-time information, such as your current speed, heading, and altitude, as well as the distance covered and satellite info (number of satellites in view and satellites used by the GPS receiver). Finally, several tabs at the bottom of the tangoGPS main window give quick access to different sections. The Trip section provides detailed information about your current trip, with Stop and Reset buttons that stop recording and reset current values. In the Track section, you can enable the track-logging feature that creates logfiles. Similar to GpsDrive, tangoGPS supports the friends feature, and you can tweak its settings in the Friends section. As the name suggests, Config allows you to adjust the tangoGPS configuration.

The application supports several map sources, and you can choose the one you like by selecting it from the Current repository drop-down list. By default, tangoGPS uses maps from the OpenStreetMap project, but it can also use the OpenAerialMap, OpenCycleMap, and even Google Maps repositories. The latter repository might sound like a good option, but the tangoGPS developer strongly discourages you from doing so because it violates Google Maps' terms of use. In theory, you can also specify additional map repositories, but finding a service that offers high-quality maps for free is virtually impossible. However, you can add an alternative OpenStreetMap repository called Osmarender. To do this, press the New button, give the new repository a name (e.g., Osmarender), and enter http://b.tah.openstreetmap.org/Tiles/tile/%d/%d/%d.png in the URI field (Figure 7). Then specify the directory in which to store the fetched maps and press OK.

Figure 7: Adding a new map repository is a breeze.

Final Word

Although neither GpsDrive nor tangoGPS can rival commercial GPS applications, you can still put them to some practical use. With either of these applications, you can view and use OpenStreetMap maps, save your trip data for use with other applications, store and manage POIs, and even geotag your photos and show them on the map.

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