Weekly App Wrap: GPSArea for Android


If you are a natural resource professional, you know that a GPS unit can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. I remember the first Trimble device I ever used was over $5000 and the software for my computer was almost $1000. Depending on your intended uses, the cost may be justified but it will take some time for that investment to pay for itself. Most landowners would never consider making that kind of purchase.

If you have an Android smartphone, there is an app that can help you perform some simple GPS data collection (without spending several hundred dollars) on your property called GPSArea. I did not have the best first impression when I purchased the app. GPSArea does not have the most polished user interface, but is functional and does what it promises. The app's purpose is to collect GPS data to determine the area of a given location (a stand of trees, food plot, harvest area, pond, field, etc). All you have to do is launch the app, turn on the GPS, then start measuring the area (on foot, four-wheeler, or in your truck). 
I used the app yesterday on my Verizon Wireless Galaxy Nexus phone. I have a client in Bartow County, Georgia that was impacted by a tornado in April 2011. The tornado devastated a small section of the property and we plan to replant it with loblolly pine this winter. I was on the property yesterday and needed to know the acreage of the area we plan to replant. I launched the app, then walked around the perimeter of the opening. Within a few minutes, I knew the acreage of the area. I was also able to overlay the area over an aerial image from Google Maps within the app. The area I measured was roughly six acres.
GPSArea uses the GPS radio that is inside your phone to collect data. The data collected is not as accurate as commercial GPS units. For more accurate data, the app can use an exernal bluetooth GPS reciever, like a Garmin 10, when paired with your phone. Another great feature of the app is its ability to export data in DXF, KML, or SHP file formats to be used in mapping software like AutoCAD, Google Earth, and ESRI's ArcView. 
The app is currently available in the Google Play marked for $15.43. If you have a need for measuring areas, small or large, do not want to spend an arm and a leg on a commercial GPS unit, and have an Android phone, this is an app worth checking out.

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