I was wondering if I could use my android phone (HTC Wildfire) to plot gps points and export these into GIS software (I have QGIS and MapInfo).

Thanks, Alan

4 Answers 4


There are a lot of options for collecting GPS point information on Android; I'm experimenting with several of them but none work terribly well - my use case is a bit tough, though, as I'm working out of low-flying Cessna aircraft and need constant GPS positions and to be able to instantly record a correct GPS position together with a note.

  • OpenDataKit: lets you build custom forms, including taking GPS position (using last-known, network or GPS based), and save to offline database.
  • GeoPaparazzi: Good for taking notes, either as text, photo or audio. Has a lot of potential, exports to KML and GPX. Won't work if the GPS signal is lost.
  • GPS Essentials: Good for taking quick text notes, exporting to KML, GPX. Will let you take a note using the last known position, too, instead of waiting for a GPS position.
  • OSMAnd+: great for building your own custom maps, or downloading and caching online data, but waypoint creation is not very fast or accurate. It does work with GPX files (import & save).
  • QGIS on Android: difficult to edit waypoints on the go, especially considering instability of the app at present.
  • Evernote: when entering a note (text or photo), you can attach a map position, but this doesn't seem to be saved consistently, and there's little chance to export data in a nice GPX or other spatial format.

The inbuilt GPSs in Android phones and tablets tend to drop signal a lot - this is a real problem when the sky is partly blocked (i.e. in a light aircraft), and many apps don't let you just take a note/waypoint using the last known position, so you wait for it to reconnect.

Some apps (I'm looking at you, OSMAnd) will lose GPS signal if the tablet is rotated. Test carefully before doing fieldwork!


GPS Essentials (11k+ downloads 4.4 stars)

Exports KML or GPX - import to QGIS/Mapinfo

"The Swiss army knife of GPS navigation!

The most complete GPS tool on market: Navigate, manage waypoints, tracks, routes, build your own dashboard from 45 widgets.

Dashboard Shows navigation values such as: Accuracy, Altitude, Speed, Battery, Bearing, Climb, Course, Date, Declination, Distance, ETA, Latitude, Longitude, Max Speed, Min Speed, Actual Speed, True Speed, Sunrise, Sunset, Moonset, Moonrise, Moon Phase, Target, Time, TTG, Turn.

Compass Show the orientation of the earth's magnetic field, shows an arbitrary tracking angle and the current target. Also a marine orienteering compass.

Tracks Record tracks and view them on map. Export KML files and import into Google Maps, Google Earth and others.

Routes Manage routes and view them on map. Import KML files from Google Maps, Google Earth and others. Create turn-by-turn instructions between waypoints.

Camera A camera HUD (heads-up display) view to show your waypoints, take pictures and share them.

Map A map to show your waypoints. Convert mail addresses of your contacts to waypoint so that they can be used within the app.

Supports Google Maps, MapQuest, OpenStreetMap and others.

Waypoints A list of all your waypoints with export and import (KML and GPX format).

Satellites A sky view of the current positions that shows satellites in view.

Features Supported position formats: UTM, MGRS, OSGB, Degree-Minute-Second, Degree-Minute-Fractions, Decimal. Supports over 230 datums.

Waypoints, routes and tracks can be exported as KML or GPX files and sent by email or uploaded to Google Docs or DropBox.

Please open the web page below for more info, send me emails for support. I CANNOT HELP IF YOU SIMPLY PLACE A COMMENT HERE.

Purchase the "GPS Essentials Donation Plugin" on Android Market if you want to support development.

The latest beta release is available at http://www.gpsessentials.com for download. Try out the latest features and help us improve GPS Essentials!

If you are on Facebook, come and join GPS Essentials for the latest info: http://www.gpsessentials.com


GPS Essentials is not affiliated with any political party nor with any other organization mentioned in the ads, and it has no connection with any economic interests. If you don't like the ads, please contact AdMob.


✓ Coarse/Fine location: To access network locations and GPS ✓ Full internet access: To read map tiles, send bug reports ✓ Modify/delete USB storage contents: To write waypoints, tracks and images onto the SD card ✓ Read phone state and identity: To tag pictures with the device ID (can be switched off in settings) ✓ Take pictures and videos: Camera HUD, take pictures "


  • I love this one, it's the best GPS app I have found so far on android. Not quite as good as the one I had on WebOS (but i can't remember the name anymore), though...
    – SAnderka
    Oct 24, 2012 at 11:48

You can try the Geopaparazzi app. It has the following features:

  • georeferenced notes
  • georeferenced and orientated pictures
  • gps tracks logging
  • easy export of collected data
  • a map view for the navigation of the environment

Data can be exported into the following formats

  • gpx
  • kmz
  • geopaparazzi cloud projects
  • bookmarks

enter image description here


I'll add my own app here for completeness sake (although I may be biased :) ):

GPS Benchmark

It's the only app on Google Play that automatically compares a user-entered ground truth location to GPS data from the mobile device to calculate true accuracy of the GPS. Other apps will only show the estimated location error that is calculated by the device, which (as GPS Benchmark shows) can be far from accurate.

While setting a ground truth location via tapping on the map is convenient, it can be limiting in terms of accuracy and precision. The app also supports typing in a known ground truth location lat/long/alt, which bypasses any potential map issues. To make manual entry less cumbersome, it also supports capturing a "geo:"-encoded location from a QR Code (encoded with a QR Code generator such as ZXing) or NFC tag, which can be written using any NFC tag reader (including an option in GPS Benchmark to write the current ground truth location to an NFC tag).

GPS Benchmark exports the data as well as the results to KML and CSV formats, which are both compatible with ArcGIS products, as well as other GIS products.

The first image below is a screenshot of the GPS Benchmark app collecting data and calculating true error, and the second image is a screenshot of the results (green = 95th percentile, yellow is 68th percentile, and red is 50th percentile of horizontal error) being visualized in Google Earth.

Screenshot of GPS Benchmark mobile app that measures GPS accuracy

Screenshot of GPS Benchmark output in Google Earth

Link on Google Play:


I hope its useful!

  • 2
    Checking the accuracy of a GPS by assuming that you can select the "correct" point off of a google maps image is misleading. In many areas, google maps itself is off by tens of metres, let alone the inaccuracy of choosing a point on a small touchscreen from an image with (often) poor resolution to begin with.
    – Simbamangu
    Oct 24, 2012 at 3:22
  • 1
    There is often even an offset of 2-3 m between map view and satellite view - and I'm talking about southern Germany here, not some far away place with poor data quality...
    – SAnderka
    Oct 24, 2012 at 11:46
  • @Simbamangu Agreed, setting a ground truth location via tapping on the map can be limiting in terms of accuracy and precision. The app also supports typing in a known ground truth location lat/long/alt, which bypasses any map issues. To make manual entry less cumbersome, it also supports capturing a "geo:"-encoded location from a QR Code (encoded with a QR Code generator such as Zxing) or NFC tag, which can be written using any NFC tag reader. These options, of course, assume a known ground truth location by the user. I'll update the post to reflect these issues. Oct 24, 2012 at 13:17
  • Nice app, but Menu button/access does not work on Android 5. Jun 21, 2015 at 7:45
  • 1
    @Carsten Thanks! For newer Android devices/versions without a menu button, just press and hold the Multitasking button that is next to the Home button. It should bring up the menu. I need to overhaul GPS Benchmark to include Action Bar, etc., but I just haven't gotten around to it. Jun 21, 2015 at 16:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.