July 10, 2010

It's Not You, It's Me, version 4.0

I'm sure you are all aware that Groundspeak released version 4.0 of their popular Geocaching iPhone application this week. This major upgrade adds a number of user-requested features including a functionally redesigned user interface and Google Maps integration. Users can also take photos with the iPhone camera and submit them with their logs. Geocachers can also submit logs for trackable items now. There's also an online/offline indicator, and a GPS acquisition status display. You can also view any list of caches on a map; a really nice enhancement.

So what's my problem with the new release? Well, one of the advertised feature enhancements is, "better reliability downloading pocket queries." I'm not sure exactly what Groundspeak means by this, but my experience so far has been the complete opposite of said enhancement compared to the 3.x version of the application. 

Before, it took about one minute to download any of my pocket queries, many of which contain the maximum of 1,000 cache listings. After upgrading to v4.0 on my iPodTouch, my experience hasn't been so pleasant. When I select my pocket query to download, the app begins churning away, first reporting that it is "Downloading Pocket Query", then a little later it tells me it is "Unpacking Pocket Query", then later still it displays, "Downloading Trackables". Then finally, after many minutes have elapsed, CRASH. The app. completely shuts down with no error message or indication of what just happened. When I return to the saved pocket query page, there's nothing there.

After a few more tries with the same result, and some choice words for Groundspeak, I headed to the forums to seek help. Turns out I wasn't alone. Many others have had this problem, and more. At this point, I'm thinking I need to figure out if I can delete this version and go back to version 3. But I do a little experimenting, and I find that I can actually download some of my smaller PQ's (500 caches) successfully to the device. So perhaps it is a memory capacity issue with my already-nearly-full 8GB iPodTouch. If so, my apologies to Groundspeak, but it sure would be nice if the app. could at least provide me with a vague error message of some sort (eg. "Memory Full") rather than simply crashing. 

And even if that is the problem, I'm still not real thrilled with the significant increase in the amount of time it takes to download a PQ now. This, along with the many other bugs being reported (see link above) may persuade some of you to put off upgrading to version 4.0 for a while. And I couldn't blame you one bit.

Cache On!

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