GPS Tips and Tricks in Mappt for Android

Partially-drawn polygon being mapped from the user's movements.

One of the most-used features in Mappt is the ability to capture location data from internal or external GPS devices. With Mappt, users can record their movements throughout an area, turning this GPS-captured information into features.  These features can then be manipulated and annotated, then ultimately exported as Shapefile or KML, to be sent via email or uploaded to cloud-based technologies.

Based on the feedback we’ve received from Mappt users “in the field,” we’ve decided to highlight some tips and tricks when working with the GPS functionality in Mappt.

Image of a Baboon Sitting on a Cliff

Clearly lost, this baboon ponders the power of Mappt’s GPS capabilities.

Tip #1: “Walking Out” an Area

Did you know that, when you are in “polygon drawing mode” or “line drawing mode,” you can drop a new vertex at your current location? This is handy for “walking out” an area when you are in the field.  In the image below, I took a casual stroll around a sand pit, adding vertices at my current GPS location to a polygon as I went.

Partially-drawn polygon being mapped from the user's movements.

A partially-drawn boundary of the sand pit, using points dropped at my GPS position.

The resulting polygon is a bit messy, being subject to GPS inaccuracies, but could easily be tidied up within Mappt, or exported and tidied up on a desktop machine.

Polygon Created by "Walking Out" the Boundary

The completed polygon.

This minor feature provides a range of applications, from mapping boundaries as demonstrated above, to measuring paths or areas, to simply logging landmarks as markers on a map.

Tip #2: Take a Break on Large Trips

Mappt is capable of handling captured GPS paths with tens of thousands of vertices, but eventually performance will degrade under such weight.  We recommend pausing, saving then restarting the GPS tracker every hour or so, which will split your path into smaller segments.  These can later be stitched back together if necessary.  This will also allow you to hide unimportant segments using the visibility toggle button, which reduces the workload on Mappt and promotes responsiveness.

Screenshot of a segment of a captured GPS path with over 7000 points

Mappt will remain responsive, even when working with captured GPS paths with thousands of points

The rate of vertex collection will depend on several factors, such as speed and overall GPS activity, so you may want to experiment with the amount of time between saves.

Tip #3: Ditch the GPS and Use High-Res Imagery For Increased Accuracy

This tip may seem a bit out of place in a blog post about GPS tips, but it all falls under the category of georeferencing features in Mappt.  If you have high-res and accurately-georeferenced imagery of your remote location loaded into Mappt, you can use visual inspection of your surroundings to accurately place features on to the map. For example, you could determine your location by picking a nearby tree or rock formation and finding it in your offline imagery loaded into Mappt.  You can then be sure that a feature placed at that location in Mappt will have reasonable geospatial accuracy (as long as the georeferencing of the imagery is accurate!).

Tip #4: Mappt Will Continue to Capture GPS Data in the Background

As long as you leave the GPS tracking enabled within Mappt, it will continue to capture GPS data, even if you minimise or switch to another app.

Screenshot of the Mappt Background Service notification area item

Mappt will put an item in the Notification Area to let you know it is capturing GPS data.

Note that if you exit Mappt from within the menu (Menu -> Exit Mappt), Mappt will shut down the GPS and stop capturing points before it exits.