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Every day, I find some new way to be impressed by how much we use our smartphones in our daily lives. In fact, by now, we really should just be calling them our virtual assistants 5 Free Siri Alternatives for Android: Which Is the Best? 5 Free Siri Alternatives for Android: Which Is the Best? A few years ago, you’d only see someone talking into their phone if somebody was on the other side. Fast forward a bit and now talking to your phone when you aren’t on a call... Read More . Not only can smartphones facilitate instant communication with our friends and family, but we can and do use them for all manner of life management: notes, photos, web browsing, reading, music, and games. With My Tracks, we can add “path tracking” to the list.

Coming straight from Google itself, My Tracks is an app with a singular purpose: to track your path as you travel from point A to point B. As simple as it sounds, this path tracking can prove to be quite beneficial depending on your lifestyle habits. If you commute or travel a lot, it’s fun to see how your path changes from day to day. There are other path tracking apps out there, such as RunKeeper RunKeeper Adds Ability To Set Specific Goals And Inform Your Friends About Them [Updates] RunKeeper Adds Ability To Set Specific Goals And Inform Your Friends About Them [Updates] Read More , MapMyRun, and Runtastic, but My Tracks comes from a developer group that has proven itself in terms of quality.

I’ll admit that I was skeptical about this app at first, but it has won me over, mostly because it’s free. Let’s dive into My Tracks and see what exactly it can do and how you might benefit from using it. Give it a chance and it might surprise you.

Interface

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My Tracks has an incredibly simple and uncomplicated interface. There’s a giant Record button that you can press to start recording your track with the app. While enabled, My Tracks will regularly trace your route and save it locally. When you come to the end of your route, tap the Stop button and My Tracks will stop recording and complete its stat calculations. A single record is called a “track,” hence the name of the app.

In order to make use of My Tracks, you’ll need to have a GPS-enabled device. The app takes the data from the GPS sensor and uses it to determine all of the different statistics to track, including geographic data and velocity calculations. In combination with other apps and biometric sensors, you can elevate the usefulness of My Tracks to the next level, but more on that in the Advanced Features section.

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Basic Features

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The first thing to note is the gamut of statistics recorded by My Tracks. Not only does it record the physical path taken on the route, but also the speed at which you traverse, the total distance over the route, and the elevation changes along the way. Some of these data sets will come in handy when recording, say, a hike through the woods or a jog around the neighborhood.

While My Tracks is recording a track, you can view all of these statistics live in real-time. If you want to take notes – such as to explain a sudden drop in velocity or make note of geographic changes – you can annotate your path. And for those who like virtual company, My Tracks can verbally announce your progress along a route.

One thing I like about My Tracks is the widget that it comes with. You can place it straight onto your home screen and set up a few details, such as current recording time, total distance traversed, etc. The widget also has quick one-tap Record and Stop buttons. Once recording starts, the widget updates in real-time for instant information access.

Advanced Features

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The available options for My Tracks are numerous. You can change the way that the path-tracking map appears, the types of data shown on the progress charts, the types of stats that are tracked, the nuances of recording, and more. Granted, I’m a newcomer to the whole “path tracking” app genre, but I’m impressed with what My Tracks can do.

For those of you who like to stay cloud-connected, you can sync up My Tracks to your Google Drive, Google Maps, Google Spreadsheets, Google Fusion Tables Instantly Visualize Data & Information With Google Fusion Tables Instantly Visualize Data & Information With Google Fusion Tables Whether you're putting together a report for work, or you just want to represent information on your blog in a graphical way, Google Fusion Tables can help. Google Fusion is actually a feature embedded into... Read More , or general social networks (e.g., Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) as means of viewing your tracks across devices and sharing your tracks with your friends. My Tracks even has a way for you to create entire track backups to external sources so you never have to lose your data.

Out of the box, My Tracks can interface and sync up with third-party biometric sensors, including the Zephyr HxM heart rate monitor, the Polar WearLink heart rate monitor, and most monitors that support the ANT+ protocol. So if you’re already using one of these monitors, you have nothing to lose by giving My Tracks a try.

Conclusion

All in all, My Tracks offers a basic function that can be utilized in a number of different ways. It is, of course, not a tool that everyone will find useful, but for those niche needs, it provides a strong set of features for tracking travel-related data. I like My Tracks and it definitely deserves its spot on our Best Android Apps page.

Give My Tracks a whirl and see how it works for you. For those of you who already use it, what do you think? What do you like about it, or dislike about it? Do you prefer another app over it? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments!

  1. Pronoy
    December 29, 2014 at 5:32 am

    I have already recorded a track and have shared it with my dad. I'm confused how to navigate that path again.

  2. Richard L
    August 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I believe My Tracks also has a website to upload your tracks.
    However, the deal breaker for me is the inability of My Tracks (AFAIK) to store pictures & video synced to the tracks. Thus I am still with EveryTrail.

    Besides the pictures & video, Everytrail also allows you to attach a storyline.
    Lastly, the pro version allows you to download your favorite tracks onto your device so you can trek overseas without data access & still see the map & contour of your vicinity. This is an extremely important feature for enthusiastic hikers who does a fair big of overseas hiking.

    The weakness of Everytrail is the poor quality of the stats in real-time and its somewhat erratic behavior (v5.8.4) on my Galaxy S3. Messing around with the pinch zooming will crash it. Tapping on the zoom buttons is OK. Just have to wait for next version to fix this bug.

  3. dragonmouth
    August 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    And then we wonder why we have no privacy, why Google knows so much about us. We don't need the NSA to track us, we track ourselves.

    • Joel Lee
      August 16, 2013 at 6:25 am

      What's the issue with tracking ourselves? The consent is implicit. The real problem is when people track us without our permission...

      • dragonmouth
        August 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm

        Following your logic, any time we get online, any time we use our phone, we implicitly give consent to be monitored.

  4. Alejandro R
    August 14, 2013 at 6:40 am

    What is awesome from this app is that you can re-play the track on Google Earth, or even export it as KML to use it in any other GIS software.

  5. Aaron Clifford (@EgoAnt)
    August 14, 2013 at 4:37 am

    I didn't realize Google had acquired this app! I used to use this for riding my bike all the time. I should download it again!

  6. phil miller
    August 14, 2013 at 2:28 am

    How does this affect the battery? I used this a year or two ago and I remember it killing my battery.

    • Joel Lee
      August 16, 2013 at 6:24 am

      I assume it would be similar to running GPS. I haven't actually used it for more than 15 or so minutes at a time so it's hard for me to say.

    • Sean Steyn
      February 14, 2015 at 8:22 am

      I used it for 4 hours constantly yesterday on my Note 3 while on a hike, and it used just over half the battery life, so I would say that's not too bad.

    • Team Cornflake
      September 4, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      A Bluetooth GPS unit, such as the Garmin GLO allows you to turn off the phone GPS. This should allow a longer battery life.

  7. NightHawk59
    August 14, 2013 at 12:47 am

    I have been using My Tracks for a couple of years for running, hiking, kayaking and motorcycling. In many cases it allowed me to figure out just where the heck I had wandered to!

    I use it nearly daily.

    • Joel Lee
      August 16, 2013 at 6:23 am

      I would love to use My Tracks on an outdoor expedition of some kind for that exact reason. Just need to find the time...

  8. Tom E
    August 13, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    We took an airboat ride, and I turned MyTracks on -- it was great not only reliving the ride, but since it shows on a Google Map, you could turn the satellite view on, and actually see what paths he took through the swamp! Very cool!

    • Joel Lee
      August 16, 2013 at 6:23 am

      That sounds awesome!

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