The Crystal Ski Holidays Blog

Ski apps – what you need to know

Ski apps for the iPhone
Ski apps. They are everywhere.

Several weeks ago we were looking at ski apps on the internet and were blown away by how quickly the world of ski apps seems to have changed.

So, naturally, we’ve done some digging. Thanks to some help from Satski, here’s our guide to the truth about GPS ski apps.

1. How does the app work? There are two different types of app generally available. Those that use piste/trail maps and those that use topographic maps. Locating yourself on a mountain using topographic maps is not easy. Look for an app that uses trail and piste maps

2. Does the app run with correct Geo positioning on the maps? There are very few apps that provide true Geo plotted Piste and trail maps. Most provide a copy of a trail map meaning that, no matter how good your GPS on your phone is, you won’t get an accurate location on the slopes.

3. How much will the app cost you to use when you are on holiday? Most ski apps promise all kinds of information, which they draw from web links, which require you to have data roaming switched on. This could add several hundreds of pounds to your mobile phone bill (depending on your tariff – especially North America where data roaming costs are very high).

Check that maps of the resorts are downloaded fully to your phone and operate within the software.

4. Does the app have a ‘locate me now’ feature?

5. Stats. Look for apps than can record your stats whilst you’re on the slopes. You can then review where you’ve been (and how long it took, etc) live and on the mountain and also when you get off the slopes. This is a cool feature and not many apps provide this.

6. Look for an app that will offer on-mountain live navigation from where you are. This makes getting to and from the lifts and/or slope side restaurants easy and quick

Which are the best phones for using ski apps?

There’s a broad split between those that have GPS and GPS assist (Android phones in particular are very good) which means they run without data roaming (and therefore high costs!). Windows and Blackberry phones also fall into this category.

Then there’s the iPhone that generally relies on data roaming (as it uses AGPS). As most iPhone apps are loaded with links, it can mean there’s a sting in the tail when you return to the UK – so watch out for this.

There’s no better way to test out a ski app that by putting it through its paces on the slopes. So, before we went to Canada the kind people at SatsportsGPS gave us a trial of their app Satski.

Here’s what we thought

It is definitely easy to use. Once the apps installed it takes seconds to download the resort map for where you’ll be skiing/boarding. Each phone is also allocated a unique app ID that you can then pass to your friends on the slopes (providing they have the same app). Using their buddy system you can then see where everyone is on the slopes!

The ‘locate me’ feature was very accurate and the resort information section (showing restaurants, bars, ski schools, etc is well laid out and easy to use.

However, there are some limitations – including a lack of true navigation and that they don’t currently have all ski resort maps available (though there is good selection of most of the large resorts).

Overall we were very impressed.

Other ski apps you might like to take a look include: itrail and Ski TrailMaps Pro (search the android market place).

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