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TheCrag on Android (also iWhatever) - mini review
12:04:34 PM

I've seen several mentions of possible Android ports of online guidebooks (the recent thread about the SRC guide port, and an Arapiles guide) but haven't seen any mention of They released an Android version of their site late last year, and it is available on Google Play now. It is free, but their revenue model seems to be around charging for crag info for some crags / locations - for example, the Wolgan is a $1 fee for 1 year subscription. Crag fees range from $1-$5 depending on the quantity / quality of the info, but you can roll up to country level - for example, all Australia is $9.

Not bad pricing for a guide that covers nearly every crag in Aus to some level. More interesting is the concept of Crag Credits. Members have long earned Crag Karma, "points" for contributing information, photos, topos etc as a little reward and bragging rights to encourage contributions. Karma is now converted to Crag Credits as well, which can be spent in Google Play, to subscribe to new areas, for example. (Note that this feature is not working yet - Credits appear on your account in TheCrag but do not yet integrate with Google Play.) A nice concept that will tangibly reward those who contribute to the site - I can see the quality & quantity of contributions making a step change. I bought the whole-Aus subscription for $9 instead of waiting for the Crag Credits functionality to come online as a little contribution to TheCrag, but it shoudn't be long to wait for this feature if you have stacks of Karma to convert.

The app takes up 55Mb on my phone, took a few minutes to download. Presumably all crag info is downloaded, because when I subscribed to all Aus crags, there was no further download, apart from probably an unlock key.

It is easy to navigate, you can browse by area, but searching is fast & easy. Probably best to search by head area and then drill down to crags, climbs etc - that means navigating back is easy, wheras if you search for a specific climb, it isn't intuitive or easy to expand to the crag the climb is in.

The climb info obviously depends on what has been entered. For popular cliffs, information is good, and route descriptions, topos etc are super useful. For less popular areas, the information is more sparse - anyone who uses TheCrag regularly will have a good idea of what is available. User-generated databases like TheCrag have the distinct disadvantage of missing / poor information - but the solution is obvious... And the app makes it easy to fill in the gaps, inviting you to take photos of the climbs and draw your own topos on the fly - a fantastic interactive feature that I think will really help improve the volume of usable data. I'm yet to try this feature, but will do so on my next day at the cliffs.

Usability seems decent, it is easy to navigate, it is brilliant to be able to check out a photo topo from the base, read the description, then tick it off your hitlist. Finding areas is easy with maps integration. Screen real estate is limited (on my Galaxy Nexus) but usable, and my next trick is to try the app out on an old Android tablet to see what the experience is like on a bigger format. Phone is perfect for taking to the base of a crag, but tablet better for sitting around the fire planning tomorrow's climbs... The database is available offline, very important for those remote crags. Updating should be regular, but I note that some stuff I updated on the web app last week is still not on my phone - so not quite sure how frequently database updates will be pushed to the phone.

Overall the app works fine, looks good, and has huge potential. I think TheCrag is heading towards critical mass (approx 250,000 routes, 50,000 added last year) and at least in Australia has comprehensive cover (if variable quality) - and it stands a chance of establishing itself as the go-to global online guide. It is certainly my favourite offering in Australia - while the SRC guide to Sydney region is great, and TheSarvo is pretty comprehensive for Tassie, TheCrag is not regionally limited, and is much more interactive - easy user updates, mobile app, easy topo creation, tick lists & wishlists, and a fledgeling social aspect) etc. Have a look if you haven't been there recently - it has come a long way in the last year or two.

Will this replace guidebooks? No chance. I'm a huge guidebook junkie, probably have 40+ guides and have maybe only climbed in 20-25 of those areas, the rest are climbing porn, or feeding my Climbing Dreamtime. Online guides and mobile apps are a great supplement to print guides - you COULD get away with just mobile, but for history, background, in depth information, and fabulous photos, you can't go past a good print guide (Onsight guides are really doing it for me in Aus). But I'm stoked to have access to a decent mobile guide to Australia at last, and will support the crew at TheCrag in improving an already very decent product. Have a look and see what you think.

1:21:55 PM
Sounds pretty good. Subscription fees are bogus imo, fees and paying for data in general im ok with

2:21:24 PM
On 11/04/2013 ratherbeclimbinV9 wrote:
>The reasoning as I understand it was rather than pay 10c every time a
>crag gets updated (to get the new data), you can pay $x and get updated
>for a whole year. So from that perspective it seems likely to be a saving.

If youre concerned with getting every poxy bolted filler updated on a regular basis...
2:40:19 PM
Understand your pov bw. If you are a regular contributor to the site, your crag credits will easily cover your subscriptions. If you don't want to contribute time/effort, a small fee sounds reasonable to me. Subscription basis is to cover regular updates (still to see HOW regular) - which is not just the poxy filler, but as the database is continually improved with area & rouote info, photos, topos etc for existing & new climbs, this is vital. I quite like the system.

2:45:10 PM
Did I miss a thread? I don't recall anything about an Android Arapiles guide... or is that iCrag?
3:15:29 PM
I thought I had seen this - but it is iDevice only still, apparently.

6:08:23 PM
How did I get to appear on that snapshot? (I know I spend too much time filling stuff in....)
Cam McKenzie
7:02:36 PM
On 11/04/2013 technogeekery wrote:
>I thought I had seen this - but it is iDevice only still, apparently.

Android version is not too far off!

There are 8 messages in this topic.


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