We’re thrilled to welcome Polar to the Map My Tracks family. From today, anyone that uses a Polar watch to record their outdoor pursuits can sync it automatically to Map My Tracks. Polar joins the existing set of services, that includes Garmin Connect and Fitbit, that makes is easy for anyone that enjoys getting outdoors to keep all their records in one place.
It’s simple to set up
To get started first connect your Map My Tracks account with your Polar Flow account. On the website go to Upload > Connect to devices. On the app go to Settings > Services to complete the connection. Once connected, your Polar activities will be synced across to Map My Tracks. After that, all new activities synced to Polar Flow will also be synced to Map My Tracks. It will not sync historical activities. If these are needed on Map My Tracks then they can be upload manually.
By default, any activity synced from Polar will be made private. It’s possible to alter this by editing the connection settings on the website at Upload > Connect to devices.
As ever, we are keen to hear from our community on what other services would be good to integrate with. Get in touch to let us know.
Regular users of Map My Tracks may have noticed some odd things going on over the past few days. We thought an explanation was in order.
First things first, we’re sorry for the glitches that presented themselves this week. We know that a lot of people rely on Map My Tracks and depend on it running smoothly. We can’t apologise enough for the hassle that is caused when things don’t work as expected.
So what happened?
We have some ambitious plans for Map My Tracks and to deliver these we have needed to upgrade the underlying infrastructure that Map My Tracks is built on. This has meant that a complete set of server upgrades has been completed this week. They’re bigger, faster and better!
We have spent the past few months planning this change and, we thought, we had everything covered for when the migration took place. That said, some unexpected side-effects presented themselves once the new system was under a full load of regular users.
We’ve been working through these issues over the past few days and I’m pleased to say that the apps and website are now back to normal with the added benefit of being on new infrastructure.
We’ve been busy making sure that the app in general is much faster to use when browsing around. You’ll notice that maps load faster and that pages now include an infinite scroll that means you can easily browse more of your history or your friend’s activities. Some subtle changes to the page layouts mean everything is clearer and easier to read.
We’ve also made sure that the app stays in sync your website history. Now, if you upload activities to the website your phone stays in sync without needing to manually download it. This works great if you have connected your account to Garmin Connect or Fitbit. All the activities synced from these services automatically appear in the app on your phone keeping everything in one place.
Photos take center stage. When you pin a photo to an activity it will show in your profile and activity feed instead of the route map.
Other all round improvements make this version faster and even easier to use.
Not so long ago the web was buzzing with privacy scandals from Facebook and the changes brought about by the GDPR. Now, it seems like the dust has settled and, in this quieter time, we wanted to review some of the recent changes we have made and to highlight the principles behind what we do here at Map My Tracks.
Let’s get some context
At Map My Tracks we have a global community of people that love getting outdoors for fitness or just for fun. Behind the scenes at Map My Tracks HQ we are a small team of three people who are passionate about making sure our community of users trusts us with their data and love using our service.
We take this responsibility very seriously and work as hard as we can to make sure that Map My Tracks is the product, not our users. It’s true that a lot of the service is free to use which suggests that user data is what we want to sell to advertisers, but this cannot be further from the truth. To that end, we recently removed all third-party adverts from the site and also removed third-party tracking code from services that don’t need to know what you do on Map My Tracks.
Why the change?
The tipping point for us was when it became clear that some third-party services might not be handling data harvested from our users in their best interest. Gone are the adverts that track you around the web and give advertisers more insight into your web usage. Gone are tracking pixels from other services that they use to build a picture of user behaviour. Gone are erroneous cookies from third-party services that really don’t need to know what you do on Map My Tracks.
You are not the product
Map My Tracks was launched way back in 2007. Back then, the iPhone had just been launched and the notion of tracking, and sharing, your outdoor activities was a distant dream. Roll forward eleven years and in that time Map My Tracks has grown, and evolved, into the global service it is today. During that time, we introduced premium features under a PLUS subscription for users and event organisers. This represents the product, and our revenue stream, and provides us with resources to continue growing the service. No user data is sold to third-parties. It’s your data, not ours, so why would we sell it?
Given the nature of the service, we understand that not everyone wants to have their current location broadcast all over the web. Since its inception, the Map My Tracks app has always had the default tracking state as offline. Unlike most other sports tracking apps, we don’t force users to share their activities or upload them online. These are options that each user can choose to use when they wish but the default is private.
It’s important that when users do choose to make their activities public that we handle their data carefully. Privacy zones can be set around areas that users wish to mask from the public. Homes, workplaces or frequently visited locations are typical places to set up zones around. We recently upgraded how privacy zones work in response to some research into their set up. If you haven’t set them up yet, you can do so here.
Map My Tracks also stops search engine robots from indexing your activity pages so that it is intentionally difficult for search engines to build a profile of your data on Map My Tracks. This means that Map My Tracks pages don’t regularly appear in search engine results, but we think that the trade-off is worth it to provide a safe service for people to use.
Your very own personalised heat map on Map My Tracks is now available to explore.
The Map My Tracks heat map provides an overview of all your activities to show where you’ve been in the past. It’s a great way to explore your history of activities and remind your of the places you have been.
We’ve included options for you to explore your heat map by year and each activity type you do.
Your heat map can only be seen by you as they include both public and private activities that you have uploaded to Map My Tracks. By default, the heat map will not include any activities that start or finish within any privacy zone but there are options to override this to see all your activities. Keep in mind, that if you choose to share a screenshot of your heat map with your privacy zone data visible then it may disclose sensitive locations.
To view your own heat map login to Map My Tracks then choose Heat map from the main dropdown menu.
Heat maps are available for PLUS members. If you would like to view your own heat map then please upgrade to PLUS and your heat map will be available immediately.
The global reach of Map My Tracks never ceases to amaze us. We are always thrilled to see that we have users all around the world.
To help illustrate this we’ve developed a simple map that showcases all the incoming data, in real-time, on Map My Tracks.
It’s fascinating to see how the incoming data moves across the world from east to west during the day. As Australia is going to bed there tends to be more activity in America as they wake up and start their day.
Being connected to friends on Map My Tracks is a great way to stay motivated and keep active.
Once you’re connected to friends Map My Tracks will keep you up-to-date with their activity by sending you various notifications. While notifications are a perfect way to stay in touch you may not want to receive all of them.
Now, you have full control over what notification you send and receive. You can choose what notifications you prefer to receive from your friends and also decide what notifications you send to your friends on Map My Tracks.
We take our responsibility to protect our users’ privacy very seriously. So much so that none of the default settings on Map My Tracks force users to make their activity public. The starting point for every user is to keep everything private and only make it public if they choose to do so.
That said, when users do choose to make their activity public it’s important that the privacy zone tools we provide do their job to mask their data.
Through research undertaken by the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign into fitness tracking social networks like Map My Tracks they uncovered some problems with our initial implementation of privacy zones. We were provided with the details of the issue on February 22, 2018 by Hussain et al. who established an algorithm to deduce the place of interest within a privacy zone.
Their research included recommendations to further secure users’ data within a privacy zone to mitigate the risk of exposing the place of interest. Their recommendations, and a further set of our own, were implemented on February 23, 2018 and applied to new and established privacy zones.
We would encourage all our users to set up Privacy Zones over their home or place of work if they choose to make their activity public. Go to Settings > Privacy to set up as many as needed.
As we approach the end the year we take a look back on what’s been happening on Map My Tracks in 2017.
It’s been a busy year for us - and you. Across 2017 a total of 6,500,000km have been covered by Map My Tracks users. That’s 162 times around the world. You have been busy with it too, every minute a new activity is uploaded from users around the world.
During that time we have also been busy on your behalf updating the app and website to make Map My Tracks better and better. Aside for the multitude of mini updates across the year the more notable new features are Photos, Moments, Goals and some exciting work with Augmented Reality.
Outdoor activities are not just about how far or how fast you went, it’s also about the memories you make which is why we have gone all in with photos in 2017. The Map My Tracks app was updated to include options to take photos and pin photos to your activities.
That, in turn, fuelled the work on the Social Gallery that helps to show off all the great places that people visit.
Moments & Moments Videos
Each activity uploaded to Map My Tracks has its key moments highlighted. Top speed, highest elevation, max. heart rate, segments covered, and more, are highlighted on the activity timeline.
We also added an option to create a beautifully crafted video of your Moments to share with others. Every activity uploaded to Map My Tracks can be turned into a video that includes photos, stats and route details - all ready to download, keep or share on social networks.
Who doesn’t like a goal? Goals were added in 2017 to let you challenge yourself. Goals can be set for any sport by distance, duration or activity. A detailed breakdown of your performance helps to keep you on track and achieve your goal.
Connect to other services
With different wearable devices being used across different sports it’s helpful to be able to consolidate the data in one place. We’ve added options to automatically sync data to Map My Tracks from Garmin Connect and Fitbit. More services will follow in 2018.
If you use a compatible iOS phone you can now explore the landscape around you with Augmented Reality. Nearby mountain peaks, towns and other Map My Tracks users tracking live are all highlighted in the landscape. This is just the start. We’re really excited with the possibilities that Augmented Reality brings and 2018 will see more AR updates that make it even more useful.
We hope you have enjoyed the updates throughout the year. A lot of the features added have come from suggesttions from the Map My Tracks community. We want you to get the most out of Map My Tracks in 2018 so if you have an idea for a feature then get in touch to tell us about it.
Upgrade to PLUS to access this feature. Map My Tracks PLUS is an affordable way to better understand your performance and organise your workouts. Upgrade today for as little as $3/month to access all the extra features.