Android adventures

Leprechaun Canyon

Well, our secret is out.

We’ve ported the Backroads app to Android and released it to the masses as a Beta. You can now get it from the Play Store for free for Android 4.0.3 and above.

In case you’re curious, we used Xamarin Forms to create the Android app, allowing us to share our core business logic with the Windows version. Startup times are a bit long and the app is a little sluggish, but it’s a minor miracle that you can even write a decent Android app in C#.

A shortcut we chose is to only expose the trip companion aspects of the app in the Android version. Trip planning is a fairly involved activity, requiring substantial amounts of user input, and is best done with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. So the recommended workflow is to plan your trip on your Windows PC, export the trip to your Android device, and follow the day-to-day of the trip on that device. If there’s something you would really like to do on your phone, but can’t, please let us know.

One thing to note is that Google Maps needs a network connection once in the lifetime of the app before it will work. So make sure you run the app and enter a page containing a map before you disappear into the hinterlands and run the app for the first time offline. Otherwise, mapping functionality won’t work at all. Thanks, Google.

There’s also no system-wide support for offline maps in Android, so don’t expect to see any map markings while your device is offline. Your GPX tracks, will of course be rendered as you’d expect. So make sure any waypoints you care about are present in your tracks.

Beyond that… as mentioned, the app is still in Beta. We’ve dogfooded it quite a bit, but it still isn’t quite as battle-tested as the Windows app. We also haven’t run it on that many Android devices, so we’re looking forward to your feedback on how it works for you. Enjoy the app, and stay safe!

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