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Andrew Alden

Is the iPhone 3G Good for Geologizing?

By July 13, 2008

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A sleek pocket computer with easy note-taking and built-in GPS: could the new iPhone 3G be a good field tool? I hope some pioneer is giving it a try. Seems to me that it could easily host a topographic base map with geological overlay to show on that lovely screen, plus the waypoint logging of the typical GPS unit, plus quick input on the iPhone keyboard or recording oral notes. With a tricked-up iPhone and a standard Brunton compass, you'd have a good basic mapping outfit. Am I right? And what geology-related applications should developers be working on for the iPhone?


July 13, 2008 at 4:29 pm
(1) jrepka says:

It also includes a scientific calculator.

If only you could make phone calls with it… :)

July 14, 2008 at 12:26 pm
(2) Juggernugget says:

I don’t know much about the iPhone other than basic functions and cost. How long does the battery typically last? Do they make scratchproof/shockproof cases? Is is water resistant/proof? It may have the functions but is it functional in a field setting?

July 16, 2008 at 8:36 am
(3) Silver Fox says:

My non-iphone smartphone wouldn’t be as easy to use in the field as a good GPS (haven’t figured out yet whether the phone does GPS or not) – the GPS has a better backlight for using outdoors, it is sturdier, and I can enter new waypoint names fast using the rocker thingy instead of having to type on a minikeypad or tap on a screen keypad.

But sooner or later, we’ll all be pointing things at rocks and having all the info we ever needed. And then I’ll say, beam me up, Scotty!

But don’t know about the iphone – thought you had to be using ATT to have an iphone.

June 16, 2009 at 2:08 pm
(4) Ted Turner says:

Interesting idea; however, there are already several ruggedized field mapping/data collectors/field computers that integrate GIS/GPS/survey apps/data apps/etc. (including ArcPad).

For example:

June 24, 2009 at 5:06 pm
(5) Geology Guide says:

I see that Bob Jamieson has made some progress with this project: http://bobjamieson.net/2009/06/03/the-iphone-a-field-tool-for-geologists/

And Chris Rowan is now soliciting discussion on the Highly Allochthonous blog

September 7, 2009 at 8:40 am
(6) Dan Doctor says:

I use my iPhone 3G regularly in the field in suburban and rural areas of Virginia, where cell reception is good. It is an excellent resource for locating myself within the high-res photo imagery provided in the Maps app. I also use it as a data-collection backup for my Trimble, when satellite reception is poor. I’ve tested the accuracy of the iPhone assisted GPS and it is +/- 5 m, as good as the Trimble.

I use the “Drop a pin” feature of the Maps app to collect data points and send them to myself in an email along with geologic notes. I also use the app “Locations” to collect geotagged photos in a running list, them send them all at once to my desktop in an email.

An app that can plot strike and dip symbols as KML in Google Earth would be most welcome.

December 28, 2009 at 4:59 pm
(7) Ted Haeger says:

I discuss a couple apps that I use in the field (and link to your article) from “iPhone Apps for Field Science.”

January 21, 2010 at 1:20 pm
(8) Payton Baldridge says:

There is a very handy app for the Iphone called “declination” that will give you the magnetic declination anywhere in the world at any given time. You can enter GPS coordinates or simply tap the world map to get instant declination settings. There are a couple other apps for .99 but this one is free and the numbers are very close to the NGDC’s online calculator. It also works on the older Iphone as long as you have the 3.0 software update.

September 20, 2011 at 4:43 pm
(9) Geology Guide says:

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