Some people rely on their phones instead of a paper book to plot their Caminos and guide them along the way. I am not sure I am willing to go “app only” – but as a primary resource, many apps look quite helpful. Right now I am just researching and downloading potential apps to explore. I’ll review them more in depth later.
One thing I ran into right away was that although there are numerous Camino apps, many are only for the Frances route. It is not always clear from the title that this is the case, so watch the descriptions if you aren’t going that way.
Wisely (aka Wise Pilgrim)
I had heard of Wise Pilgrim which I assume is the same as Wisely, since that’s what keeps coming up in searches. This app looks great, lots of pics and maps etc., and follows the Wise Pilgrim Guide Book if you want both. However, the app’s ratings are questionable (and not just on the Primitivo version) and reports indicate they’re buggy. That’s not something I want to risk on the Camino (especially for a pay app!), but I have heard good things about the book – so that’s a maybe for me.
Way of Saint James Pro (aka Buen Camino)
The Way of Saint James Pro came up when I searched for what some call the “Buen Camino” app. (Buen Camino is the shortened name of the manufacturers.) It’s pretty highly rated and has more advanced features than the Camino Primitivo – notably it works with GPS tracking so you can see where you are and not just where you should be. Importantly, the mapping is downloadable – that seems key to the performance of many of these apps.
Overall the app is powerful. It is loaded with so much drill-down information that it can be a bit overwhelming at first. The navigation learning curve was not too steep, though, and after a few minutes of exploration the app really shined. Its daily route lists are linked to Google maps with numerous layers – and these are editable in case you want to change daily destinations. There is also a few summary icons indicating how is trail vs. road, as well as elevation up and down. Accommodation info includes user ratings, fees, and a collection of iconic data for quick looks. The information is also downloadable, so no worries about connectivity. It also has alerts warning of known issues on the route (real time?).
IMPORTANT NOTE: While the app is free, the route guides are not. Sneaky! (“Oh, did you want keys to go with your new car? Sorry, that’s extra.”) Unfortunately I discovered this after I tried to access my route. Before I even realized it was a purchase (and without telling me the cost), a download began. The next day, I checked my Google payments and bank account and saw no charges, though – so I am not really sure what happened.
The aptly-titled Camino Primitivo is simple to use and very basic. It opens to a simple daily city list with distances and some info on tap, an albergue contact list, an old school route map, and a direct Google Map link with the route superimposed over it. It’s also only in Spanish, which doesn’t matter that much because guess what – we’re going to be in Spain! But it would be nice to see a translation of the descripciones.
Peregrino Online looked promising, but no northern routes. What’s up with that? Oh well – maybe in 2020.
Any suggestions are appreciated! (Also – I am an Android user – so if there is some amazing Apple-only app out there, just keep it to yourself haha.)