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Top Five Android Geocaching Apps

Whether the Geocaching purists like it or not, smartphones are being used more and more for Geocaching. In fact, it seems to be a common set up in this day and age to have a smartphone for urban caching/cache database with a dedicated GPS unit in your caching bag for those ‘deep in the outdoors’ trips. So it’s important that you have a geocaching app on your smartphone that does the job well.

But picking the best app can be a difficult thing when there are lots of choices in the market, which is what I found when I jumped the smartphone platform fence and started using an Android.

Searching ‘Geocaching’ in the Android market, whoops, Google Play Store (or G.P.S. ;) ),  brings up over 400 results. So picking one of the best can be a tough choice.

In order to make a little more sense out of the 400 options we’ve picked INATN’s Top 5 Best Android Geocaching Apps. So, presented in no particular order, here they are:

CacheSense

The legendary Blackberry Geocaching app (the first app to be licensed to use the Geocaching API) now on Android. I’ll admit now that this is my favourite app and wins my overall best geocaching app award.

Why?

Well, it seemingly has everything you need…and if it doesn’t have it it’ll likely be coming in an update soon. This is the major plus with CacheSense – it’s not that it is almost perfect as a geocaching tool, it’s that the responsiveness of its developer, New Zealand based Bruce at ZitaFarms, is far beyond any other.

But it’s not just problems that get responded to with lightening speed – the updates and feature development of CacheSense are significant and frequent.

In fact, I’ve been trying to write a decent, in depth, review of CacheSense for quite some time…but then another update comes out and I have to start working on it again!

Speaking of that review, one of the tasks I set myself was to list all of the functions of CacheSense and then use it to compare and contrast with the other geocaching apps.

What this extensive and time consuming task is showing (it’s not completed yet, I’ll share it when I’m done) is that the difference between CacheSense and the other apps is not major functions, but all the little stuff that seems to make all the difference.

Case in point: CacheSense and NeonGeo, the two post prominent paid geocaching apps outside of the gc.com app, both have the ability to sync with your gc.com pocket queries. This is really useful as it allows you to set up your PQ’s to more easily keep your app database current without having to download and import.

But CacheSense doesn’t just allow you to directly import the PQ, it also allows you to choose the PQ file type (Summary, GPX zipped, GPX data, or full) and gives you options automatically importing PQ’s, including whether this should be wi-fi only, roaming on the data network or just when charging.

Rather than present a summary of all the cool tools and functions in CacheSense I’m going to suggest taking advantage of the free 30 day trial they have. This is the full app, yours free for 30 days to try before you buy.

The full app is only US$5.

Overall this app is excellent and well worth trying out before paying for another app!

 

c:geo

Arguably the best free, dedicated geocaching app for Android and one that has been around for quite a while now.

c:geo doesn’t use the official Geocaching.com API, but rather scrapes the information from the gc.com. For those without a GC.com Premium membership this appears to be quite useful as it gets around the limits placed on standard members in the API.

So all that lovely cache data can be yours.

One of the cool little voyeuristic social functions in this app is the Go 4 Cache service that allows you to see other c:geo users location and what cache they are going after. Very useful if you are out FTF hunting, but it is still a little creepy and does rely on others using the app.

It has a great set of features that allow you to make the most of the paperless caching experience. It immediately feels a lot like NeonGeo or CacheSense, but seems to lack some of the database and other features of these apps.

In fact, it really seems to act a lot like a free version of the geocaching.com app…

Overall it is a great little app that is well worth using if you don’t want to part with $5 and don’t have a premium membership.

 

Geocaching

The official geocaching app for Geocaching.com from Groundspeak. The most noticeable feature of this app is that it is the most expensive paid geocaching app on the market (I don’t count ‘Geocacher’ as it doesn’t really seem to be supported anymore…plus it doesn’t even rate).

At nearly US$10 it is basically double the cost of arguably better apps. But it does provide a well put together and basic app for the newbie cacher.

It’s style is in keeping with the geocaching.com cartoon style, which really lets you know you are working with (through?) the mothership.

The app is targeted a little more that the find info on the go side of things, rather than utilising a database of cache information. Of course this can lead you into trouble if reception is poor where you are caching and you haven’t already accessed the info.

You save the cache to an ‘offline list’, but as the name implies this is more of a list than a database. That’s not to say it doesn’t have some database functions.

Overall another great app for the beginner, but one that would likely be more attractive if the price was dropped. If you want to be with the mothership then this is the app for you, otherwise spend less on another app and use the change to buy yourself a coffee. ;)

 

Neongeo

This is an excellent app and one that certainly rivals CacheSense as an all round geocaching tool. It’s US$1 cheaper than CacheSense and, quite sensibly, they also provide a free 30 day trial version.

The app is well put together and is certainly well supported with fairly frequent updates.

Like c:geo it also has a voyeuristic social function, ‘Follow Me’, which shares your location and allows you to see others on the map as well. It also allows you to select an icon to be displayed and, wisely, gives you options to ‘clutter’ your coordinates and prevent others from knowing exactly where you are.

You also have the option to send others using Follow Me a message, which must be a great way to enhance the social side of geocaching (which you must admit is sorely lacking) especially when you’re out FTF hunting or caching on the weekend.

The app has a simplicity to it that probably doesn’t fully represent it’s full functionality, however this makes it very easy to use.

One of the other interesting features of Neongeo is that when you select a cache to target the compass appears as an overlay on the map page. As you can see in the image (right) this is a useful function if you don’t want to use Google Navigation.

 

A:DRAKE

A newcomer to the geocaching app market this free app has gone in the other

direction to c:geo with a focus on having a cache database for offline use. It still has access to the Geocaching Live API so you can download caches/GPX directly.

It claims to be able to work with huge cache databases, 30,000+ according to the listing in the G.P.S., which is quite an impressive feat.

The app also integrates with Geoget, the free GSAK

alternative, so you can really have fun playing with that data (if you’re that way inclined).

Certainly worth a look for those who maintain an extensive database or if you’re looking at a big caching road trip. Probably not a suitable app to start geocaching with or if you’re not interested in using a database manager like Geoget.

 

Notable Mention: Locus Pro

This app would have easily made it into the top 5 but for one technicality: it’s not just a geocaching app.

I thought long and hard about what this particular top 5 was supposed to represent, that being the top 5 best geocaching apps. The problem I came to with Locus was that it was so much more than a geocaching app that it tended to cloud the issue.

It is certainly a very powerful ‘Multi-Function Tourist Navigation’ app that has a huge number of features, many of the geocaching related, But this is one of the issues.

There is so much going on with Locus that you have to really love waypoints, mapping, POI’s etc etc to want to use it. You have to wade through lots of other stuff before you can just find a cache.

But this is one seriously powerful app that is well worth a look by the data geeks among us.

It also has some pretty cool geocaching tools, including the ability to draw a circle of any radius fro a defined place. Oh, and it connects through Geocaching Live and has a free version.

Conclusion

It’s no secret I have my favourite geocaching app. For me CacheSense is the right mix of cache information management and functionality. And I’m more than willing to shout it from the rooftops.
But ultimately you have to choose the app that’s feels right for you.
With the plethora of choice out there it is well worth while giving a few apps a try before you buy so you can see what you do, and don’t, like about them.
However, all the best geocachers still choose CacheSense. ;)

What’s your favourite Geocaching Android app? Let us know in the comments below. 

37 comments

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  1. CraigRat

    100% agree with this list (I’d probably add GeOrg to the list but it’s less flashy than the apps shown here)

    Locus and CacheSense are fantastic!

  2. nzcoozer

    I don’t like CacheSense because when I search for nearest caches that I haven’t found, it sometimes shows me caches that I have already found.

    1. Cumbyrocks

      Odd. I’ve not had that issue.

      Have you submitted a bug report to the developer? Bruce gets these things sorted pretty quickly and if that’s the one thing stopping you from enjoying cachesense…

    2. Southern Man

      Of all the caching apps that I use, CacheSense is BY FAR the most problematic. It seems to work fine with 98% of caches but there are some (plain ordinary caches) that it refuses to hide when found or archived, or stubbornly shows as DNF when later found, or just won’t show the cache on the map at all. While I still like the app, the problem you cite has been reported to the developer for YEARS and still hasn’t been fixed (like, as of now, three years after your post).

  3. Jack.marshall

    I use C:geo, used to love it, but now, with the API changes, you really have to load on your pocket queries to get any real functionality.

  4. Nighthawk700

    It’s probably because I got comfortable on Neongeo before I started with CacheSense, but NG is still my weapon of choice. I find its workflow very intuitive. I keep trying out CacheSense though, because it is so well rated. I figure maybe something will finally “click” for me. I tried Locus (free), but was overwhelmed with all the options, and my poor OG was out of memory. When I upgrade to a new phone (GIII?) I’ll give it another try. I used to swear by the original CacheMate, but the developer seems to have given up.

  5. Chris

    I’ve been caching since 08 and using a smartphone for caching since 10 and, if frankly no one I know uses any of these apps except c:geo and the official app. I looked at cachemate, it has very few downloads, when compared with either of the two I mention. C:geo can import gpx, and and zipped gpx files very easily. It allow me to have lists, for example the gc trail here in South Dakota. As well as the caches for an event in another list, plus I have a list for each of several pocket queries. Add live map, which is working now and you have a potent caching tool. It works with locus or Google maps, allows entry of waypoints with or without projection. I’m surprised it’s not your first choice. Also, cachemate says that the $5 price is a 50% discount which ends in June so you might want to include that unless you plan on removing your review in June.

    C:geo will still be free at that point I believe.

  6. Nighthawk700

    Chris, I think you are confusing CacheSense and CacheMate in your comment above. They are two different apps from different developers.

  7. Chris

    You are correct, I meant cache sense.

  8. Paris-Normandie

    c:geo is so complete and free… so don’t need any other.
    Have paid for GC.com official one, it is a good app for beginner :) and can complete from lacking feature on cgeo (like uploading a picture on a found logging action :)

    1. chanal

      i got the c:geo and my compass was way way off!! it was horrible, and i have a Samsung galaxy 3 i am going to try out the neongeo in hopes it will work better. for the life of my i cant find the free trial of the geocaching app, i am told its because it was originally built for apple?? i love that version my girlfriend has it and its so easy to understand. so i hope i find one that will work for me because i love doing this!! i just started today and we did 2 hunts it was awesome!!

      1. Cumbyrocks

        I’m completely biased, but do have a go with CacheSense. The app just gets better and better. IMHO it is the best geocaching app on any platform, including Garmin GPS units!

        I’ve also had a short google search and it seems there may be a small issue with S3 GPS, as there also was for the S2 (and which was expertly solved by our own Mystery Duck).

  9. Bill

    I downloaded c:geo for my new Galaxy S3 today and tried caching for the first time. I I found two traditional cache sites (it said – here) but could not find the cache item itself. Tried finding three live map cache sites and could not find a single one. It seemed like my GPS was off becuase where it was pointing me was into the middle of people yards.

    Very frustrating. Any idea what I could be doing wrong?

    1. Cacher

      When using cgeo don’t rely on the live map to provide the correct position.
      If it has an orange border around the cache location icon that means that the position is esimated.
      I you press the icon to open the cache details then hunt the cache using the compass or map function then the coordinates are correct.
      Also if you save the cache for offline then live map will be correct as well.

      I use cgeo as I am not that avid a cacher so don’t want a membership but I do want an Android app.
      I would be happy to pay a one off fee for an app but not $30/yr for membership. Not at this stage anyway.

  10. shinjak

    C:geo is the winner for me out of the apps listed. However, on my last caching trip I used an app called Columbus. It has a few more features than c:geo which put it ahead in my book. Plus it scrapes caches way faster than any other app. Plus, sort by distance actually works. The only place i had problems was during map redraws. Worth trying.

  11. Richard

    I do miss GC Buddy in this list. It is very nice, good graphics, response and easy to use. I used it on my iPhone. Now I want to switch to Android.
    Is there somebody using a entry-level Samsung for geoaching? Models like Galaxy Y, Ace or the Mini-2?

    Please let me know. Thanks!

  12. Marci

    I have an HTC Vivid and I use the GC official app. It’s been good for me. I like how you can log your posts and post pics, however, it gets a little screwy when trying to pick up/drop a trackable. My biggest problem is I live in a rural area and I love to go deep in the woods to hunt a cache but I constantly lose reception. It is quite aggrevating. How do I beat this?

    1. Lib Mendonca

      If you’re heading deep into the woods you shouldn’t depend on your phone for geocaching!
      Use a handheld GPS for navigation, it can survive being dropped into the water or off a cliff. Use the saved pocket query feature of the geocaching.com app to access the cache pages you need and store your log for upload later once you’ve got 3G or wireless connections again.

  13. hawk5398

    Great article for for newbies to GC (out 3x /others with iphones). Have a Galaxy S3 ver 4.0.4. Have spent considerable time searching for an App.

  14. Ronald

    I love C:geo!!!

  15. Izzy

    I like Geo caching the best (the one that cost 10$) If you get stuck you can even view photos and stuff like that.

  16. ADV

    I purchased cachesense earlier this year on the strength of such reviews as this. Very nice app but it never really seemed to communicate very well with the inbuilt GPSr, and finding caches turned out to be rather frustrating. It recently started to nag about not been registered which was the final insult, so out it went.

    Replaced it with c:geo (along with GPS Status) and I am very happy with that app. (more than I need in fact) and totally blown away with how accurate the internal GPSr is and how quickly it can get a lock, even indoors.

    Same phone was used for both, a Samsung Galaxy Ace.

  17. Nighthawk700

    End of the year tip: The developer of CacheSense has strongly hinted that the price will go up next year (currently $5). Also, Locus Pro is on sale for 45% off (about $4.35 US at the moment) until the end of the year.

  18. JLirbzeit

    I haven’t really used much else other than CacheSense since I started geocaching a few months ago. I tried c:geo and nangeo a little bit, but found CacheSense to be much more user friendly. I would, however, recommend purchasing the premium membership on geocaching.com as the API limits for the basic membership are quite low. It only gives you something like 3 downloads every day (it’s been a while so don’t quote me on that). You can still see all the geocaches after those 3 downloads, but you can’t see any of the cache details. I’ve never had an issue with API limits since I upgraded to the premium membership.
    The only issue I have is, every so often, the app will lock up and I’ll have to force close it. Not a huge deal since when I go back in, it’s right where I left off.
    Overall, I would, and have many times, recommend CacheSense to any smart phone geocacher! Best of all,you can try the free, full function, 30 day trial before spending the $5 on the app!

  19. smiddy3266

    These reviews hit many of the buttons previously pressed by us (both good and bad).

    What about multi caches? I have given up on all android apps except c:geo for ease of inputting my co-ords. I will qualify by saying my smartfone cannot be upgraded later than ver 2.1

    Even though we have purchased a few apps, they have compass functions far inferior to c:geo and and if not secretively impossible to navigate to/don’t have a function to input multi cache co-ords.

    I will say that for the life of my two fones, I expect it to be impossible to graduate from c:geo.

  20. Mike

    Prices for CacheSense and Geocaching are incorrect. CacheSense is $8 and Geocaching is $9.99

    1. Cumbyrocks

      Hi Mike, the prices were correct at the time of writing the post…which was May 2012.

  21. amsomr

    thanks a lot
    I already use one of those app ;)

  22. Zwodnik

    c:geo is the best free geocaching app. Works very well, especially for a free app. I did notice that occasionally a cache or two wont appear on the map, but they show up on the full website. I like that you can log the cache directly from the app without being a premium member. I can’t see paying for any other app when this one is free.

  23. Elsie

    This is a great overview – Thank you!
    I have been using a Garmin GPS for geocaching for about 18 months, but get frustrated about the lack of detail (footpaths not marked etc). My husband suggested getting an app on my new smart ‘phone. I chose (after reading this article) CacheSense. It’s brilliant! The detail in the map type I chose is superb, the easy access to my pocket queries is amazing and, to someone not particularly ‘au fait’ with smart ‘phone technology, I found the easy of use and intuitive nature of the app was great. I would certainly recommend the use of CacheSense to others new to using an app for geocaching.

  24. Jason McHenry (jasonwentcrazy)

    Thanks for this article. I’ve recently become really interested in Geocaching after being an Ingress player from the start. So often Ingress has been described as kind of a variation on Geocaching that I felt compelled to learn more and, again, I really appreciate this article.

    I come into Geocaching in a roundabout way. Ingress is a Google Mapping game played on an Android phone that requires you to be within 40 meters of countless global locations and in a lot of ways it is a form of Geocaching.

    Anyway, I look very forward to learning more and, by the way, encourage you to have a look at Ingress. I’d certainly be very curious as to what you think.

    I imagine the members of the Enlightened faction of Ingress would have a blast in the GeoCache world for sure.

    Cheers!

    1. kjwx

      I’m still waiting for the long-fabled iPhone app before I try my hand at Ingress but other It’s Not About The Numbers’ bloggers are HUGE fans. You might like to check out rediguana’s post from December 2012 on whether Ingress is the next location-based big thing.

      1. Jason McHenry (jasonwentcrazy)

        Ah, cool!

        I’ve played Ingress from just about the very start of testing and have enjoyed the places it has taken me over the last year or so. It’s amazing how fast and how big it’s become.

        I live in the heart of Silicon Valley and know plenty of Googlers as well as a few people that work on Ingress and none of us know when the iPhone release is coming for sure. Exactly. But it will be soon. [My guess would be a matter of a few weeks to a month.]

        And we’ve covered Australia entirely in Enlightened green a couple of times. [https://plus.google.com/u/0/101715854735548968586/posts/NrfTdxDh3PQ] And New Zealand too. We could always use some more passionate players there. :)

        Cheers!

  25. Melissa

    we use c:geo and like the app ok, but lately the gps has left very little to be desired. We can only count on it getting us within 15 feet of the cache, after that the gps goes haywire and we have to depend on hints and logbook entries to find it

  26. Gary

    I’ve been using CacheSense for a quite a while. I like that it has a lot of features but my mastery of the app has plateaued. For ex., when I go to Recent, it gives me caches that I haven’t looked at for ages; there has to be a way to refresh the list. Is there a manual available? On Google, I could find only a couple of YouTube’s and they were too high level to be helpful Thanks!

  27. labedaelaine

    Geocaching is $9.99 for three months or 29.00 a year. I don’t understand why you are ‘beating around the Bush’s on the price of the app? Explain please :)

    1. kjwx

      Think you might be confusing the price of Groundspeak’s official Geocaching phone app with the cost of a premium membership at Geocaching.com, Labedaelaine. The Android mobile app has a one-off fee of US$9.99 (or NZ$12.49 here in NZ) when you first install it, while a premium account on the company’s listing site costs US$9.99 for three months or US$29 per year.
      Neither have to be purchased to geocache, of course – though I highly recommend shelling out for the mobile app if you have to decide between the two.
      *If you have an iPhone or Windows Phone, the official app is an even better deal. It’s US$7.99 in the iTunes store and free for those poor buggers stuck with a Windows handset (no offence intended, fellow WP users).

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