Update – Geocaching Updates are Live!
There have been several questions lately about our plans for supporting geocachers that use the Mac and PC operating systems. I’ve tried to respond to those questions with vague answers sprinkled through various forums but have decided to put it all here in one complete roadmap so that no one has to guess about it anymore.
Earthmate PN-Series Firmware Update
First, we are planning a firmware update for the Earthmate PN-Series (PN-20 and PN-40) devices to deliver, among other things, a Geocaches page that allows the user to see all of their unfound caches complete with the Geocaching.com Cache Type symbols.
PN-Series owners will be able to sort by distance or name as well as found or unfound status. They will be able to view geocache details, see the cache on a map, or route to the location. They can choose to “Drive There” or “Hike There” to create road or direct routes.
Once they’ve found the cache they can log their find with “Found It!” or “Didn’t Find It” to update the geocache details page and store the results of their search. After logging the find they can choose to find the next closest cache, view the cache list, or stop geocaching for the day.
Send to GPS from Geocaching.com
Beyond the firmware update we are working on two features for exchanging geocaches between the desktop and the device. We are working with Geocaching.com to deliver a Send to GPS plug-in that will work on both the Mac and the PC, allowing everyone to transfer geocaches directly to their device without Topo USA in the middle.
Cache Register Widget
We are also working on a desktop widget for the Mac and PC called Cache Register that will allow a geocacher to use advanced search features to create queries and synchronize them with their Earthmate PN-Series device. Search for the 100 closest traditional caches within a 50 mile radius of your weekend destination and send them to your PN-40… log your finds and send your Field Notes back to Geocaching.com when you get back.
We are going to remove the 800 character limit so that people can see all of the cache details including the Hint and the Logs. For the serious geocacher looking for more control, they can use the Cache Register to customize what geocache fields are included in the Comment Details and in what order.
We realize that Topo USA is a Windows application and while our Cache Register desktop widget opens the door for geocache exchange on the Mac, there is still a lot of work to be done to bring all of the desired GPS tools to the Mac platform. We did not want to port the Windows interface but rather are going to build on the Cache Register format and deliver increased Mac functionality over time.
PN-Series data discs on the Mac
In addition to the new Cache Register widget, there are several features in place to help the Mac user with the Earthmate PN-Series device. First, we ship the PN data discs with each device allowing the user to transfer detailed 100K topographic maps (ETA: Enhanced with DeLorme street-detailed maps and four million places of interest!) to their device or SD card for any state in the US. While we plan to deliver a desktop application in the future, the map data needed to take the device outside is available in the box.
Earthmate Online Map Center
We are also making updates to our Earthmate Online Map Center at data.delorme.com to accommodate the new Map Library subscription (ETA: Subscription support not yet available). This powerful website allows Mac and PC users to specify the area where they would like to get their maps, aerial imagery, USGS 24K quads, and more. After the selections are made the site notifies them that their maps are ready for download. These downloads can then be placed on the internal or SD card memory on the Earthmate PN-Series device for use on geocaching trips. Remember to buy your Map Library subscription to get all the maps you want for an entire year for just $29.95. Once you’ve downloaded them they are yours to keep!
Points of Interest Layers on the PN-Series Devices
One last feature for serious geocachers looking for a serious tool… you can create your own Point Of Interest maps with the Draw tools in Topo USA and add them to your Earthmate PN-Series GPS to allow you to turn on and off layers of your own creation. Create layers for My Caches, My Finds, NGS Benchmarks, data from www.poi-factory.com and more. Add tens of thousands of points to your map; turn them on and off as you need them. While you won’t be able to create or delete points like you can with Waypoints, you will be able to search for and route to them with ease.
I’m sure the question on all of your minds right now is when will this be ready… well, project estimates get more precise the further into a project the team gets. I’m sure some of you are wondering why we’re talking about the first firmware update already when the PN-40s don’t release until next week. The devices are on schedule and our Marketing director has posted the 17th as a ship date. Everyone here at DeLorme has been working non-stop to get the device out and the Geocaching.com Initiative ready for people who might be getting Earthmate PN-Series GPS devices for the holidays. You’ve seen screenshots from the GPS and from the Mac widget… Data.DeLorme.com is already available. You all know how much I hate timelines but I can tell you that I’m giving a couple of PN-40s as Christmas presents and they are going to geocachers so we’ll be doing our best to have things ready for them!
I hope this helps shine a light on where DeLorme is headed with Geocaching and the Mac platform in the not so distant future.
Let the comments begin… now!