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A couple years ago I have traveled to rather remote areas alone on multi-day hikes and the cell phone coverage was poor. During my hike I wanted to let someone know about my progress (the tracking was for security reasons). I set some checkpoints for each day of my hike to reach and tell that person whether I reached that checkpoint, using SMS messages (which is the most reliable option to deliver a message when the network is poor)

However, I have always imagined I could use my smartphone (which has a GPS chip) to get my coordinates and text them (ideally the recipient would be able to open the coordinates on a map to track my position). I did a few times manually copy and past my position from my GPS tracking app to my texting app, but I would like to know if some apps are doing it directly. I.e. the apps should offer to easily do the following:

  • retrieve the coordinates of my current position
  • send a text (SMS) with that position
  • (optionally) read a text and show on a map the position determined by the coordinates

I think I have not made clear that there are some extra requirements specific to a remote area:

  • use only SMS (assume the park is remote enough not to have mobile data coverage)
  • do not track, push your position (every other hour, not every 30 seconds) [to limit the GPS and network use]

Are there such apps for Android and/or iOS?

  • 1
    softwarerecs.stackexchange.com might be a better fit for this – paparazzo Dec 27 '16 at 2:30
  • Iphone phones have a compass with coordinates... You could just text message the coordinates. – Desorder Dec 27 '16 at 4:45
  • Lot's Viewranger is one I use – user2766 Jan 3 '17 at 17:05
  • @Liam sharing the position seems far from being the main feature of this app and in particular, this sharing does not seem to work without mobile data. – Vince Jan 3 '17 at 17:09
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I don't know what phone you have, but there appears to be a relatively simple Android app called "GPS Coordinates GPS Location" that claims to be able to text your coordinates without requiring a data connection.

Edit: The app has over 100,000 downloads with people claiming it does exactly what it states.

  • 3
    I'm not sure why the downvote, my answer solves his first two bullet points, the third being optional. – Ramrod Dec 27 '16 at 4:32
  • 2
    @Vince I added the link. A little more up to date (but that might also mean more resource intensive) is GPS Coordinates that claims to be able to send coordinates by SMS as well. – imsodin Dec 27 '16 at 11:24
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There are lots of apps that will share and mark your position with a pin on a map. For my day job I'm part of a team that is in charge of the Connected Living iPhone app. We offer that functionality among other things. The app that we view as our biggest competition is called Life360. They also offer that functionality among other things. Another app that seems to be a good fit for your requirements is Glympse. Their feature set is smaller but it is really good for time limited location sharing. If you have an iPhone there is also the bundled app Find My Friends. I'm sure there are other apps that do what you want too.

Realistically using a smartphone isn't ideal for what you want. The apps are going to reduce your battery life, and you will only be able to share/update your location when you have good enough reception. This means that their usefulness is limited to trips that are short, and have good cellphone coverage. In general short trips with good cellphone coverage aren't the kinds of trips where you need regular check ins. If you want to send status messages in the back country you're better off using a satellite system like SPOT. While they are more expensive than using your phone, have some problems of their own, and will require you to carry one more thing, they are a better option in my opinion.

  • Thanks, I heard of Glympse, I forgot about it. I expected more an app where you push yourself your position, not tracking you continuously (say I text my position every other hour, not every 30 seconds). And you do not really focus on the limited network coverage (I thought it was clear I only wanted to use texts and your apps mostly rely on data, which is rare in remote areas). Is the app you work on using texts or data? I cannot tell from the website or app store. – Vince Dec 27 '16 at 11:03
  • I think it's a fine answer because it can help many people (not that many areas are that remote) but indeed that's not what I was looking for. – Vince Dec 27 '16 at 14:55

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