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Apps for Expeditons

Red telephone boxes, London

I am an advocate for not letting things get in the way of your adventures. This applies also to the story-telling aspect of
expeditions and journeys.

I have written before about some of the simple, free online tools available for generating and documenting your content. (here is a blog post on the subject, though it is in need of updating to include sites such as ipadio.)

I am new to the world of iPhones but have decided to use my phone to document my next expedition to the Empty Quarter desert.
I’m going to experiment with it to see what sort of material I can come up with and, ultimately, to explore whether this tool for a few hundred quid can be considered a viable alternative to a camera, a video camera, a laptop etc.

I’ll share my results in the New Year when I get home.

But before then I need your help.

If you are an iPhone user, please could you recommend for me some apps which will be helpful or interesting to use on my journey? I’m thinking mostly about apps for documenting the story – writing, photos, video, story-telling. But I’m open to all suggestions. I’ll be online at the start and end of the journey, but most of it will take place far from WiFi or phone signal.

Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

The list of apps that I already know I will use is currently very short:

Read Comments

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  1. Hi Alastair,

    We do have good experience with:
    – Evernote.(including ‘read later’)for planning, actionpoints, pics, notes, etc!
    – Dropbox (offcourse!)
    – SimpleMindX (mindmapping usefull for the overview)
    – Sun Compass (fun..)
    Most tips and ‘hacks’ via htp://!



  2. Kevin Shannon Posted

    Quite interested in this myself and was looking at it for my next journey.
    These are good when at a wifi connection.


    And if you interested in editing on the phone then splice might be good…

    Plus for writing you might like Draftpad or a novel idea.

  3. Pete Casey Posted

    Hi Al,
    The iphone is an amazing tool.
    If your thinking of purchasing the new Iphone 5 most of what you may need for documenting is already on the phone…… HD 1080p video & editing / Voice memo /Email drafting / Note pad / 8M-pixel camera with a auto panoramic feature. You could also pre plot your route on google maps take screen shots and add GPS co-ordinates and grid refs on the photo description ( presuming your taking a GPS)
    Most good apps require a 3G or wifi connection.
    Maybe Apple will give you an iphone 5 for free if you explain what your planning to do! ( I’m sure they can afford it! 🙂
    Sorry to hear of the recent postponement of the Scott 2012 expedition but good luck with the Empty Quarter Desert trek, sounds amazing.
    Keep up the good work.

  4. Correne Coetzer Posted

    HI Alastair

    CONTACT software is easy to use with one click posting a blog, photos, video, position, Twitter and Facebook. It is available as an App on iPhone and iPad.

    Have you seen the feature that Aaron Linsdau is using on Antarctica at the moment – doing a voice dispatch and it transcribes automatic into script. It is amazing as he is talking it over a satellite phone. (Years before I worked at a company that worked on speaker and speech recognition – exciting developments.)

    Best with the last preps.

  5. Correne Coetzer Posted

    PS. Aaron’s CONTACT dispatches stream on

  6. Yukon Charley Posted

    Hey Al,

    I just want to say that if something tragic occurred to you in your expedition, I would draw reaction from it for at least a week. I probably wouldn’t even delete your bookmark on my computer for about six months, so that I could go back and read your earlier entries, retrospectively.

    I read somewhere that a person dies twice: first when their heart stops beating, then secondly when they are thought of for the last time… thanks to the World Wide Web I would give you at least ten years of insurance.

  7. Day One is a really nice journaling app for keeping your diary.
    Skitch is a nice accompaniment to Evernote.
    Byword for text editing & writing

    Presumably you will be taking solar chargers to feed the battery? And putting it in aircraft mode when out of range of phone masts to will help battery life.

    Good luck!!

  8. I would recommend 8mm for video and gorillacam for adding to cam functionality

    good luck

  9. Not for documenting, but Google Sky Map could be nice at night in the desert (unless you already know the sky completely). Oh – crap. Just remembered, it’s an Android app. But I’m sure there’ll be an iOS equivalent.

  10. I’m a bike tourer, hiker, and software developer and have been following your blog for a while. A few years ago I started a tracking app for iPhone called TrackMyTour, which creates a breadcrumb trail of your trip for friends and family to follow along. You can see a sample output of my 2012 bike tour at or browse other active tours at A key feature of the app is that it’s not a real-time tracker. This saves a lot of battery power, which is a precious thing when traveling.

  11. Well, seeing as your blog is based on WordPress, how about the WordPress iOS app?

    + Apple iMovie
    + Evernote (can use for photos and voice memos too)

    And built in:
    + Voice Memos
    + Compass

    And make sure you’ve got a nice case, just got a one. And for extra power I use a Just Mobile Gum battery, which gives you about 3 full charges from a single unit.

    Also, to save battery, just put the phone in Airplane mode when you’re not using networks. Will save a lot of power. Turning it off/on takes ages for it to boot up.

  12. I second the comment about the WordPress app.
    Camera Awesome is pretty good too.

  13. Thank you for all the suggestions. And for the tip about using Airplane (Aeroplane) mode.

  14. Not an application but a way of securing the iphone / ipad to a bike
    Quad Lock –



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