Explained: Recording Trek Using Mobile Phone & Convert it Into Animated Video

Is it possible to record your treks and (cycle) rides without Internet, without a high-end GPS Device, and then convert them into an animated video?

Yes, it is absolutely possible. All you need is a smartphone and a not-so-smart mobile app.

Have a look at this video here:

A lot of people asked me about this video. Let me explain in brief how it was done.

  • Record your activity using MYTracks App on your Android phone. The default format of ‘gps file’would be .kml. Convert it to .gpx, save to external drive (Google Drive) and then download it on your device (preferably laptop/desktop)
  • Now manually upload it to Strava website in .gpx format and it would be saved as your activity.
  • Using the same ID (FB/Gmail) that you’ve used for registering with Strava, register/signup with Relive.
  • Within 24 hours, you will get your animated video sent to your mailbox.
  • To be able to download this video, you can either use IDM or simply download UC Browser on your mobile and play the video. The download video button will appear in the bottom video pane.

The Catch: Relive will send videos of only those activities that have been made áfter’ you signed up with Relive. So if you’re as desperate as I am to see your treks being made into videos, you can tweak your .gpx file a little by changing the date/time-stamp on it.

I’ve been using MyTracks app for quite some time to record my treks. MYTracks is an android app, which has been discontinued last year by the developer, that uses GPS signal of your mobile phone to record your movement via satellite.

It has the following three features:

  • Works without Internet.
  • Gives a speed vs elevation map. You can record either in km/hour or miles/hour format.
  • Gives statistical output of your activity/hike in the form of average speed, maximum elevation, total distance covered and calories consumed during the activity.

As far as reliability of this app is concerned, I’ve had reliable results at Nilkanth Mahadev Lake, Kailash Kund Lake, Drilbu Peak, Fatehgarh Sahib Cycle Ride, Mandi-Kullu Cycle Ride and numerous other occasions. Even the developer had claimed a (+/-) 10% variation which is the most I’ve experienced so far in terms of maximum altitude. As far as total distance covered is concerned, I’ve had near perfect results.

MyTracks can be downloaded from these links: Link1 | Link2 | Link3| Link4

Depending upon your phone type, one or more than one setup files shared above may work on your mobile phone. I’ll recommend that you start with link 3 and then gradually try whichever link you want to if link 3 doesn’t work. I’ve had these setup files installed on Red Mi2, Micromax Canvas 4G and Motorola G2.

While you’re indoors the app will take time to connect to the GPS system, however at high altitude, GPS connection would be made within seconds. Secondly, cheap phones will take time to connect to GPS as compared to their expensive counterparts.

I have been told that Strava does the same but I’ve had bad experience with Strava so I can’t comment on that. Moreover, Strava is a battery guzzler which is a big NO when your resources are limited at high altitude.

How MyTracks Works: Pictorial Representation 

Step1: Click on the three dots on top right and a drop down set of options will follow. Start GPS. GPS connect wait time would depend upon your location and mobile handset. Stay outdoors preferably.

Chandigarh Kasauli Cycling Map and Stats
Chandigarh Kasauli Cycling Map and Stats

Step2: Once GPS connection has been established, the app will start recording your track and such a screen would appear. It is important that you lock the app on your android device so that it keeps running in the background.

Step3: Once you’re done recording your activity and tap on the three dots (refer photo above) and export your recorded track to external drive in .gpx format. The original recording format would be .kml. Now you’ve a .gpx file in your mailbox which can be uploaded to Strava.

Step4: In case you’ve old .gpx files, you upload them to Strava by changing dates. Open the .gpx file in wordpad/notepad and go for ‘find and replace’ option. Find the date and replace it with a new date. It has to be date later than the date on which you signed up with Relive.

Step5: Here’s how you can upload your .gpx file manually in Strava.

Step 6:  Sign up with Relive. You can connect by using your Strava Account or Garmin Account. The smartest Garmin GPS costs $700 and weighs just under 450g. Nothing beats it if you can afford one. On the other hand my mobile phone weighs just under 200g and costs 5k. Basically, if you can’t afford a GPS device, you can do just fine even with your mobile phone as described in this post.

Update 1: Relive only supports two kind of activities now. Either your activity should be Run or Ride. So while you update your activity on Strava, make sure that you appropriately tag your activity as Run or Ride. 

Update 2: You can try this website (GoToes) to upload multiple .gpx or .tcx files and download them as one. Don’t forget to click on Randomize Tag to be able to upload duplicate activity on Strava. This merge tool works effectively. Click Here

Have fun recording the tracks and do not forget to drop links of your videos in the comment box. 

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