Author Topic: MAC - friendly GPS?  (Read 5944 times)

Redlight

  • Enjoying life in the slow lane
MAC - friendly GPS?
« on: February 14, 2017, 10:15:00 am »
OK, I'm going to take the plunge. My eyesight is now too poor to read a route sheet unless I retype it in 20pt, which would mean carrying a small novel around with me on some 600s.

So, unsurprisingly, all the manufacturers describe their products as Mac-compatible. But I know from bitter experience that Mac's can be funny beasts and some plug-ins simply don't work as well as they do on Windows machines.  Can anyone recommend a sensibly-priced (i.e.£200 max)  GPS that is definitely Mac-friendly?  All I'm looking for is navigation - I'm never going to be posting my hill climbs on Strava!
Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery

Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2017, 10:19:43 am »
My etrex 30 (older model, I assume the 20x/30x would be the same) shows up as an external drive on my macbook pro, and I can use basecamp to transfer routes and tracks if I don't want to dig through the folders.

But the screen is a bit small, and if you can't read a routesheet it might not be much use to you.

Aunt Maud

  • Le Flâneur.
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2017, 10:40:32 am »
I used an Edge 800 with a mac, but all I used it for was to drop GPX files onto the Edge card.

I never had a problem with compatibility, although I never used any Garmin software.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2017, 01:12:10 pm »
I used an Edge 800 with a mac, but all I used it for was to drop GPX files onto the Edge card.

This approach ought to work with pretty much anything (there's no need to actually use that Garmin Connect browser plug-in rubbish).  Unfortunately, unless you're just posting your hill climbs to Strava, it's only half the equation.

To do navigation, you need something to create GPX files in the first place, and that's where using a Mac will affect your options.  Anything website-based ought to be fine.  There's an OSX version of Basecamp.  Third-party native tools will of course differ.  What tools are best is going to depend on how you want to use the device to navigate:  Do you want pop-up instructions at each junction, or are you happy following a line on a map?
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2017, 01:20:31 pm »
Surely Apple must do their own iGPS? 80% of the functionality of other GPS, 100% more expensive, crap battery life but an easy to use interface and oooh look shiny!

Sorry IGMC.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2017, 01:22:49 pm »
I think that's called an iPhone.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Aunt Maud

  • Le Flâneur.
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2017, 01:23:03 pm »
I used Ride with GPS to plot stuff on and Openfietsmap for map tiles.

The reason I had a simple web based way of doing things, is because I use different computers in different places. I like to keep things easy, straightforward and simple and it was easy to make single GPX tracks of 1700km rides and follow the purple line and the brevet card kept track of the controls.

In the end I never got much out of Strava, so I didn't bother with it after a while. I took a look at the one some of the Auks used, what was it ?........ Nope, can't remember, but if I can't pick a simple piece of software and use it in a basic way after 5 minutes, then I think it's poorly designed.

Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2017, 01:34:54 pm »
I use Bikehike to create routes on a MacBook, and have downloaded routes to / uploaded tracks from both an eTrex and an Edge - no compatibility problems
R10000 x 2   RRtY x 7    SR x 7    E = 128

Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2017, 01:37:23 pm »
You're welcome to borrow my Etrex 30x for a bit if you want to try it out.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2017, 02:22:17 pm »
if I can't pick a simple piece of software and use it in a basic way after 5 minutes, then I think it's poorly designed.

I've thought about this, and come to the conclusion that it's true if and only if the software is designed to be easy to learn.  It's what Apple are good at, and something many software writers try to do, with varying degrees of success.

But it's not the whole story.  There are plenty of pieces of software that aren't designed to be easy to learn, perhaps because they're designed to be highly efficient to use (eg. vi, or JAWS), and the trade-off for that is a learning curve.  Or because they're designed to be versatile, and the trade-off for that is a complicated syntax (eg. awk).  This doesn't make them poorly designed, it's just a different design objective.

And other software is complex, which means it takes time to learn.  A piece of CAD software, for example, could have a lovely intuitive UI, but you're still going to have to take time learning how to use it to design things effectively.  I'd put the eTrex firmware in that category.  The UI itself isn't actually that complicated (it's just clicking around some menus and learning some terminology), but inherently you're learning how to use a complex navigation tool, and it's going to take time and experience in the same way that learning to navigate with a compass and map would (indeed, many of those skills are the same).

You could complain that an eTrex is much harder to use than a TomTom, but it's a bit like complaining that a car is harder to use than a bicycle.

A more legitimate complaint is that all the GPS navigation tools for bicycles are complicated eTrex-style swiss army knives, and why aren't manufacturers making simple ones that do one thing well.  Market forces is probably the answer.  There are plenty of simple to use devices for people who just want to know how far they've ridden (these generally just use a wheel sensor, rather than a GPS receiver).  There are simple to use devices for finding the way to an address on the other side of town - you've probably got one in your pocket - they just aren't bicycle specific, because there's generally no need for them to be.

A simple to use GPS device that's optimised for audax is possible, but only likely to happen as an open source project; there's no money in it for commercial manufacturers.  Hardware is expensive and difficult, so unless someone works out how to write custom firmware for a Garmin or similar, it's likely to be a smartphone app, with the limitations inherent with that hardware.  More practically, open source projects tend to happen to fulfil the author's personal need for some tool.  If J Random Programmer needs a GPS device for audaxing, they're likely to take the path of least resistance and learn to use a Garmin swiss army knife effectively, rather than embark on a complicated software project that's going to involve a certain amount of cat-herding vis standardisation of route data to be useful.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2017, 04:01:08 pm »
There's an OSX version of Basecamp.

Yes, theoretically. If you try to use it, however, it's buggy, slow and quickly apparent it's a bad translation from the Windows version (uses Mac inappropriate Windows UI conventions).

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2017, 04:22:08 pm »
Sounds much like the Windows version, TBH...
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Aunt Maud

  • Le Flâneur.
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2017, 06:14:20 pm »
That's true what you say, but a simple piece of routing software for bike riding shouldn't have a steep learning curve and should be so user friendly that even I can pick it up and use it straight away.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2017, 06:17:53 pm »
If you want a simple piece of routing software, use Google Maps (or Cyclestreets or something) on your phone, or buy that motorbike-oriented TomTom that Ningishzidda uses.

Audax routing isn't simple, and needs a GPS swiss army knife.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Dibdib

  • Fat'n'slow
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2017, 06:28:38 pm »
somewhat-related obligxkcd:



https://xkcd.com/1425/

Aunt Maud

  • Le Flâneur.
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2017, 06:29:59 pm »
Of course it's simple. People just like to complicate it unnecessarily.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2017, 06:37:57 pm »
Of course it's simple. People just like to complicate it unnecessarily.

Fine.  Let me know when your code's on github and I'll help test it.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Aunt Maud

  • Le Flâneur.
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2017, 06:41:14 pm »
You're talking about designing it, I'm talking about using it.

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2017, 06:43:57 pm »
But the screen is a bit small, and if you can't read a routesheet it might not be much use to you.

Is that down to the maps making the screen cluttered? I don't have trouble with my eyesight but I would think that by reducing the amount of information on screen, it would make a small screen easier to use, so a device that uses breadcrumb trails rather than maps should be fine for audax.

Personally, I find it easy to follow the breadcrumb trail on my Edge 510. I set it zoomed right in so you can see turns clearly, and you can also set it to give you alerts if/when you go off route.

A bit of prior planning and route familiarisation using online mapping tools and Google Street View will help you navigate tricky junctions when you come to them in real life.

Audax routing isn't simple

 ???

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2017, 06:44:21 pm »
You're talking about designing it, I'm talking about using it.

Okay, but as I say, the only way you get simple to use software for unprofitably niche applications is to write it yourself, or pay someone to do so.  Otherwise you have to make do with complicated general-purpose software.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #20 on: February 14, 2017, 06:45:37 pm »
Audax routing isn't simple

 ???

Poor choice of words.  I meant that it's a niche application that nobody wants to write simple to use software for, because there's no money to be made from selling it, and it's easier, for your own use, just to learn how to work a Garmin.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2017, 06:49:15 pm »
You're talking about designing it, I'm talking about using it.

Okay, but as I say, the only way you get simple software for unprofitably niche applications is to write it yourself, or pay someone to do so.  Otherwise you have to make do with complicated general-purpose software.

First world problem. Existing online route-planning apps may have their flaws but they're more than adequate for the job.

RideWithGPS is pretty good and reasonably intuitive to use for making GPX files for audax navigation. Strava is mostly fine too. I generally use Garmin Connect for route plotting simply because it means my routes are available to download to my Edge via my phone anywhere at any time.

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #22 on: February 14, 2017, 06:52:32 pm »
I meant that it's a niche application that nobody wants to write simple to use software for, because there's no money to be made from selling it, and it's easier, for your own use, just to learn how to work a Garmin.

OK, got you.

But to go back to the OP, and looking at it purely from a user's perspective, all the online route planning apps are equally useable on both Mac and PC. And if you're using a Garmin device, it's equally easy to get the routes onto the device whether you're on Mac or PC.

Basically, there is no disadvantage to a Mac in this context.

I'm not familiar with any current offline apps so can't comment on the differences between Mac and PC versions of those, but the online apps are so good that I've never felt the need to try an offline one.


Dibdib

  • Fat'n'slow
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #23 on: February 14, 2017, 06:52:51 pm »
I'd also like to see the population of the yacf audax board, not to mention the rest of the audaxing world, decide on which combination of shortest route / fastest route / avoid hills / avoid a-roads / avoid some a-roads / avoid COR / etc preferences constitutes "audax routing".

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: MAC - friendly GPS?
« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2017, 07:03:14 pm »
I'd also like to see the population of the yacf audax board, not to mention the rest of the audaxing world, decide on which combination of shortest route / fastest route / avoid hills / avoid a-roads / avoid some a-roads / avoid COR / etc preferences constitutes "audax routing".

I don't understand the question.

Audax organisers will design routes using their local knowledge and choose the best option for the particular ride, whether that's quiet lanes or fast main roads. The popularity or otherwise of any ride will tell you how successful they have been.

Strava's route planning chooses what it thinks is the best route based on the most popular (ie most ridden) roads in any area. It's very clever and a fairly reliable way of designing a route in an area you're not familiar with that will be pleasant to ride, but it can also end up making routes much longer than they need to be so isn't necessarily the best way to design an audax route.

Garmin Connect is terrible for route planning when you don't know an area because of its tendency to take you down non-navigable tracks - you need a bit of local knowledge to fix these glitches.

Basically, there is currently nothing out there than is better at route planning than an experienced human audaxer. I guess this is what Kim meant about complexity - no algorithm is nuanced enough to design a route that perfectly balances enjoyability and challenge in the same way an experienced human organiser can achieve.

Not that any of this is relevant to Redlight's requirements.