Nearly 7-years ago in the middle of a crazy cross-country repositioning, we prepaid for a campsite in a beautiful location surrounded by wild flowers in Colorado for 3 days.
We had great signal on our cellular devices and decided to plop down and get some work done.
A few hours later, our carriers started sending us TXT messages that we had exceeded our roaming limits and were being shut off for the rest of the month.
None of our devices indicated roaming, and now we couldn’t even get online to check the carrier’s coverage maps to confirm or plot where to go next.
There had to be a solution to this problem!
Soon after, there was – we created an app for that. Coverage? was released for iPhones and iPads in late 2010 inspired by this incident.
The carrier’s coverage maps on our devices, so we could create a personal coverage map of the carriers we travel with (today, we prefer Verizon & AT&T) and scout out in advance if we’ll have decent odds of getting a signal.
And when we don’t have signal, we know which direction to head!
Seven Years Later… Android at last!
It turns out, creating the coverage maps is very labor intensive and the carriers change their coverage frequently.
There was no such thing as in-app purchases back then for us to offer a funding model for Coverage?’s greatest fans to assist in the ongoing efforts.
Somehow we managed to make enough time to keep the app updated a few times a year, but the app remained a hobby side project for us.
We could never get around to adding new features or creating the much asked for Android version. Around this time last year we seriously contemplated what to do with the app – sell it? retire it? or re-vitilized it?
We decided to seek out help. First, we established a mapping partnership with Mosaik Solutions – they create the maps anyway. And our development partner (and fellow full-time RVer) Robert Lee of Hired Gun Technology was up for the challenge of not only creating an Android version, but learning iOS.
This has allowed us to at last fully revamp ‘Coverage?’ – taking it cross platform and establishing a sustainable foundation for the future.
This week’s release is the very first major re-write of ‘Coverage?’ since the app was first launched in 2010. And we couldn’t be more thrilled with it.
Over the years many other RVers (and travelers of all sorts) have also come to rely on this app as an essential tool for scouting out signal along their routes ahead.
Check it out, and let us know what you think.
Here’s a quick video demo of the new version of ‘Coverage?’:
HD Maps: Four Times The Detail
In addition to the Android version, the biggest news with the new version of ‘Coverage?’ is that we have added the ability to subscribe annually to higher resolution coverage maps with four times the detail.
This ongoing revenue should make it worthwhile for us to continue investing in keeping the app up to date and adding new features – and HD map subscribers will get in-app map updates quarterly.
HD map subscribers will also gain the ability to turn on a satellite view background layer, making it easier to scout out how terrain might be impacting your coverage.
Not interested in a subscription? No problem.
Everyone with a paid version of ‘Coverage?’ will continue to receive FREE standard regional resolution map updates (the same resolution as before) throughout the year, just as always.
These free updates apply even for those who first purchased the app nearly 7 years ago!
Other Tools for Hunting Coverage
There are other similar coverage tracking tools available – and they can be a great for scouting out signal conditions ahead too:
- Sensorly – Free, crowdsourced coverage mapping for iOS and Android.
- OpenSignal – Crowdsourced maps and tools (iOS and Android) for locating the nearest cell towers. Note that the OpenSignal tower locator tool is often wildly inaccurate, so do not rely on it for aiming directional antennas.
- Rootmetrics Coverage Map – And yet another crowdsourced map with an iOS and Android app.
The key difference is that these other apps create maps based upon crowdsourced data submitted by users – and much of the country (especially areas outside big cities where RVers like to roam) remain sparsely mapped.
‘Coverage?’ on the other hand uses maps based on the official (and admittedly optimistic) coverage maps published by the carriers themselves. In our experience, if ‘Coverage?’ shows coverage – odds are we can latch onto it with either cellular boosters or antennas.
Both types of tools serve a purpose, and work well when used together.
Here is our new video guide to finding cellular coverage, using the available tools:
The new Android version of ‘Coverage?’ is free to download, and has a 7 use trial with standard resolution maps before locking itself to display just a single selected carrier’s LTE coverage map unless a $2.99 one-time unlock is purchased.
HD Map subscription is an optional annual purchase.
The iOS version remains $2.99, as always – now with the ability to also subscribe to HD Maps annually. We will eventually also launch a free preview version for iOS like we have done for Android.
Here are the links:
Enjoy, and thank you all for so much support over all these years!
Side Note: We have two other mobile apps – State Lines (tracks state laws that change as you cross state lines – like, can I buy beer in the grocery store?) and US Public Lands (overlays federal public land boundary maps). Both also tools we created to solve problems in our own travels.
State Lines is currently in the process of having a complete data refresh, and we should have an update out in a few weeks. And then we will be on the hunt for updated maps to refresh US Public Lands with.