On June 27, 2017 Trail Behind user nwAdamR requested “More Waypoint Icons Choices”. After 43 replies containing suggestions for specific icons (as well as color coding and the ability for users to add their own like Google Earth, many of them royalty free!) we finally have a response from Trail Behind (the creator of Gaia GPS) almost 4 years later on May 19, 2021: use the icons that are included in iOS or Android. On the surface, this seems like a clever solution and a way to avoid reinventing the wheel. However, when you see what users who pay for subscriptions and recommend this app to other outdoor enthusiasts get for this no-effort upgrade, one could easily replace clever with apathy and incompetence.
After eliminating duplications and combining similarly phrased suggestions (“Fish/fishing/fisherman/fishing pole”) 42 unique icons ideas were put forward by the users of Gaia GPS who care enough to suggest improvements everyone can enjoy. Of those, just 2 icons (dog, hiker with walking stick) are natively available within the app. When the icons in iOS/iPadOS 14.6 are considered users are able to select an additional 14 of the requested icons for very little effort on behalf of Trail Behind’s software engineers. So 15 of the 42 requested icons are now available; that’s 36% of the requested icons. Some might call this progress, I call it apathy.
Finally, if you look at the icons that Gaia GPS uses for its base map (“Gaia Topo (feet)”) an additional 9 icons could be made available to users. No need to license or create icons, just use what is already available. This brings the number of requested icons to 26, or 16 short of what was requested. That’s 57%, or an F letter grade, or simply put: incompetence.
A few comments were made about the icons that are of no use to any one: prison, cell phone, beaker, circle, triangle, square, feather duster, tear drop, etc. What? Why? Who cares to use these icons? Certainly those could be removed to make room for at least the 26 new icons.
Finally I think Trail Behind is missing out on a sales opportunity here: selling packages of icons based on interest such as camping, hunting, search and rescue, etc. This would add value to Gaia GPS and enable vendor lock-in across platforms.
One can not peer into the minds of the software engineers at Trail Behind, but it’s clear they have lost interest in developing the app. This is unfortunate because it’s the best app of its kind, yet could use some easy-to-implement, sorely needed improvements offered by paying users.
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