If you're a mountain lover like us, you've probably looked toward a mountain-studded horizon and wished you could know the names of all the peaks instantly. Now you can, sort of: Software developer Augmented Outdoors just releasedPeaks 2.0
The premise is simple. You hold your phone up to the view, and the software coordinates GPS and compass readings with a peak database to determine the prominent peaks you're looking at. It lists name, altitude, and distance to the summit in a gray pop-up box that appears just above the peak. Users can then take a pic or instantly Twitter that photo to make poor sods stuck in offices jealous.
It lists name, altitude, and distance to the summit in a gray pop-up box that appears just above the peak. Users can then take a pic or instantly Twitter that photo to make poor sods stuck in offices jealous.
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(Note: Of course you can usually figure this out with orienteering skills and a topo, but that takes forever when you just want to know the name of a peak. Plus, it's a major pain in the ass in a moving car.)
So here's the big question: Does it work? Mostly. While testing on known ranges, prominent peaks get identified pretty reliably, and accuracy as to location is good. The whiz-bang factor of whipping out your iPhone and figuring out what a mountain is on the spot is a unique pleasure tailor-made for an iPhone.
That's not to say it's perfect. The sensitive compass requires regular re-calibration (accomplished with an awkward figure-8 movement of the phone), and when you pan across the view, mountain labels jump around and take a second to reorient. Also, in places where multiple mountains crowd a horizon, labels can overlap and obscure each other. Depending on your viewpoint, labels sometimes block a peak rather than hover above it, which can be annoying.
At $2.99, though, these are all quibbles. It's not really of much technical use in the backcountry (iPhone battery life ensures that), but as a casual tool, it's tons of fun. Plus, the next time some tourist at a mountain overlook wonders aloud what the mountains are called, you can be that annoying guy/gal who tells 'em each and every one.