iOS & Google Earth GPS Logging Tutorial

Part of the GPS logging project

This tutorial will teach you how to record route data on iOS devices and map it with Google Earth.

Record GPS Routes with Your iOS device

I wrote this tutorial using an iPhone 6s with iOS 9. However, this should work on any recent iPhone or iPad.

To record the GPS data, download myTracks - The GPS-Logger from the App Store. Open the app, and you’re greeted with a map screen:

Screenshot of myTracks

Press REC to start recording. A menu will come up; select Change accuracy.

Screenshot of myTracks
Screenshot of myTracks

I generally use Best accuracy at a 15s interval. However, if you’re going to do a particularly long recording, consider lowering the accuracy to improve battery life. Press Done to save.

Press REC again, and press Start recording this time. MyTracks will start drawing a line on the map following where you move. When you’re ready to stop, press REC and select Stop recording.

To see your recording, press the folder icon at the bottom to open up a list of your tracks. Tap on the track you just recorded, and a map of that track will come up.

Screenshot of myTracks
Screenshot of myTracks

Press the info icon in the upper right corner to bring up details about the track.

Screenshot of myTracks

From there, look at the right side of the Overview panel and press the Export (square with arrow) button. This will bring up an Export menu:

Screenshot of myTracks
Screenshot of myTracks

Once again, press the square with arrow button at the upper right. From the menu that pops up, press the Mail button, and email the track to yourself.

Check your inbox on your computer, and you should have an email with a GPX file attached. Save the attachment somewhere convenient.

Convert the GPX File to KML

You now have your map data in GPX format, but Google Earth uses Keyhole Markup Language (.kml or .kmz files) to show map annotations; it can’t use .gpx directly. Fortunately, free converters exist; I use GPS Visualizer.

Screenshot of GPS Visualizer

On the right side of the page, click the Google Earth KML link. This brings you to the following form:

Screenshot of GPS Visualizer

On the upper right, browse to where you saved your Current.gpx file. Generally, I change the Colorize by: option to None so that all tracks end up the same color. The defaults for the rest of the options work well.

When you’re done, click the Create KML file button. This will create a .kmz file which you can download to your computer.

Import the Location Data into Google Earth

Simply open the .kmz file with Google Earth, and you’re ready to go!

Screenshot of GPS Visualizer
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