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Garmin release OpenCaching apps for Android and iPhone

Article by: Mike Barrett
Date: 4 May 2011

OpenCaching is a new application from Garmin released this week for the iPhone and Android SmartPhones. As you may premise from the App's name it is all about GeoCaching. Back in December last year Garmin announced the creation of OpenCaching.com (not to be confused with OpenCaching.org) with a view to make "Geocaching free for all".

OpenCaching is based on GPX which is a pretty standard form of data transfer between GPS devices and computers. The concept is that if you have a GPS device that can import GPX format data then you are in business. You just download the geocache details and off you go to look for them.

The next logical stage of the process is to open up the data to the masses. Garmin have done this by releasing OpenCaching as an app for both Android and iPhones. The app is free from either the Apple AppStore or Android Market.

As with all these community driven projects the experience is only as good as the content provided by the users. OpenCaching.com is a relatively new system and as such still needs to grow it's user base. The release of this app will help that.

More importantly though there needs to be a push to get more caches into the database. When I launched the app I was somewhat disappointed to find that in my local area there were only 3 caches, and they were 12+ miles away. Widening the search to London and the Home Counties only added 4 more caches to that total. I have previously used geocaching.com and know that there are 18 caches within a mile of my home.

Until the OpenCaching community get motivated and add a lot more caches to the database then there is probably little benefit in using this app. On the other hand by creating and recording your own geocaches you both enhance the community and if fellow users do the same then the whole community will benefit.

The Garmin press release:
OLATHE, Kan./April 29, 2011/Business Wire — Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN), the global leader in satellite navigation, today announced the release of OpenCaching, the official geocaching app for OpenCaching.com for iPhone® and Android™ devices. OpenCaching provides a free, simple and mobile option for geocaching, a high-tech treasure hunt popular around the world, where participants of all ages explore the outdoors, hiding and finding containers of various shapes and sizes.

“Garmin’s free OpenCaching app is yet another exciting way to grow the geocaching community and give cachers the information they need when they’re on the go,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales. “This mobile option lets cachers find the newest and nearest geocaches wherever they may be, and just as with OpenCaching.com, we look forward to the app’s continuous evolution as we implement feedback and suggestions from cachers themselves.”

Designed to complement www.OpenCaching.com, Garmin’s free online community for creating, sharing and finding geocaches around the world, the OpenCaching app allows users to search and filter for caches right from their smartphone – all without any membership fees or subscriptions. Along with the ability for users to access their accounts, log their new finds and see caches via street maps or satellite view – and with full cache descriptions, hints and logs – OpenCaching for iPhone allows users to share their favorite caches with friends via email, and Android users can share using Twitter, Facebook and other favorite social networks. With its easy to use interface and similar functionality to the web-based version for computers, OpenCaching has a place in any app collection – from vacationing families looking for a fun way to see the sights, to the expert geocacher ready to explore.

Thanks to peer review and community ratings – which rate the “Awesomeness” of your cache through OpenCaching.com’s handy bull’s-eye system – geocachers will know exactly what to expect before heading out for their next adventure. In addition to Awesomeness, each cache gets rated on its size, ruggedness of terrain and difficulty to find. Together, these four elements make up a virtual bull’s-eye that allows users to determine, via one quick glance, if a cache is right for them.

These apps are currently available at no charge. Garmin OpenCaching is in the App Store on iPhone or at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/garmin-opencaching/id429776248?mt=8&ls=1# and OpenCaching can be found in the Android Market Place or at http://market.android.com/details?id=com.garmin.android.apps.opencache. And cachers are always encouraged to join the fun online and check out what’s new at OpenCaching.com, which is constantly evolving through community feedback.

Since its inception in 1989, Garmin has delivered 82 million GPS enabled devices – far more than any other navigation provider – making Garmin a household name in the automotive, aviation, marine, wireless, outdoor and fitness industries. For more about OpenCaching.com and geocaching in general, go to www.opencaching.com, www.garmin.com/geocache, www.garmin.blogs.com and http://twitter.com/OpenCache.

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