September 10, 2014

Using Google Classic Maps with the Android My Tracks app

By Mike Lewis

Figure 1
Until recently, I used Google's My Tracks application to track my hikes and bike rides, and to share these via My Places in Google Maps. This worked perfectly for over a year. Unfortunately, Google then decided to drop the app's support for Google Maps. Overnight, the app became much less useful – to the extent that I almost gave up using it. In this blog post, I'll explain the problem in a little more detail, and tell you how I solved it.

In a nutshell, My Tracks is an Android app that uses your phone or tablet's GPS receiver to trace a journey: a drive, hike, bike ride, or whatever. Once you have completed the route, you can choose to save or export it in a variety of ways (Figure 1). One of the options was to export it to Google Maps. This was trivially easy to do. You just chose a single menu option, and a few moments later your route appeared on the map. Perfect.

In the latest version, you can still export the map, but it now goes to the new Google Maps Engine. Despite the similarity in name, this is not the same as Google Maps (which is now called Classic Maps). The new tool has several advantages over the classic version, but there are a number of reasons that I – and many other people – prefer not to use it.