The AboutMyJourney website maps allow you to track your journey as you move. Icons on the map show places of interest, and when you are near one of them you simply click the icon to find out about it.
Scroll up and down and tap to choose the route you want. If you are travelling in the opposite direction, press “CHANGE DIRECTION”. This will ensure that the left and right hand sides of the train are referred to as you see them. Then press OK. The app will now download the data about locations on the chosen route, including pictures if you have selected them in the SETUP menu.
You will then be asked to enter information about where you are sitting. First choose which way you are facing; this will ensure that “left” and “right” refer to the correct side. Then select ‘I want information about places on my left’ if you are sitting on that side and do not want information about places visible only on the right, and vice versa. Selecting ‘I want information about places on both sides’ means you will be alerted at all the places en-route.
Now press OK. The app screen will close, and you can use other features of your device. When you approach the first location, a pop-up will appear at the bottom of the screen. You can then click READ to see the information about that place, or SKIP to dismiss the pop-up and carry on with what you were doing.
Alternatively, when you have read the text, you can go the quiz, if it is available for that place. The quiz option consists of a simple question with three alternative answers to choose from. Questions might be hard or easy; the answer might be in the text, visible from the window, or just rely on your own knowledge or guesswork. You can record the answers from up to three players, and then check the answers and your scores as you go along. At the end of the journey, just re-open the app and select SCORE to see the final scores from your last trip.
Clicking the red STOP button at any time will take you back to the main menu. Clicking EXIT in the main menu will terminate the app. By default, the app’s tracking system will close itself and cease to track your location one hour after the last pop-up occurs.
You can re-start the app at any time in the same way. If you have no internet connection, the app will pick up the data that you downloaded last time, and resume tracking. (Except possibly for images – see below).
The SETUP menu on the first page allows you to choose whether to download images, if they are available, to go with the description of each location. You may wish to disable this feature to save your data download allowance. Also, you can choose whether to play a sound when a pop-up appears. Note that image download my be slow using on-train wi-Fi; this is because train Wi-Fi systems use the same mobile networks as your phone for their connection into the train.
The app uses GPS to track your location, and you must have GPS enabled on your device before you start it. (NB – using GPS will use the charge in your device’s battery more quickly, so you may wish to disable it again afterwards, in case other apps use it without your knowledge).
When you open the app, you need to have either a wi-fi or mobile data connection, so that the app can download information about your route from its parent website. The information will then be downloaded and retained, so you do not need to do this at the station where you join the train. If you wish to use your own wi-fi to save your mobile data allowance, or because there is a poor mobile signal at your station, then you can start the app and choose your route at home before you leave. You can leave the app running: it will stay invisible in the background for up to an hour until you get close to the first location.
Unlike most Android apps, which remain running indefinitely until the system needs to re-use the memory they use, AboutMyJourney will automatically close itself one hour after the last location that it has found, in order to stop the use of GPS and conserve battery power. Alternatively, you can stop completely it at any time using the red STOP button.
GPS needs to receive signals from at least four different satellites (and preferably more) to operate. Whilst it has worked successfully in all types of train in which I have tried it, it is possible that some trains may screen out the GPS signal. It can also be affected by things like deep cuttings and station canopies.
While GPS usually gets a location update within a few seconds, it can take much longer when you first activate it, or at any time if the signals are poor. The app is designed to allow for this on a fast moving train, but it does mean that it may pop up a little way before you get to the actual location.