What outdoors activities apps are missing

Most outdoor activities apps focus on crowdsourcing user information. This is useful, but it isn’t enough. There is value in providing richer types of information on top of maps, but most of these apps don’t.

I’ve been spending more time hiking and cycling. Komoot is my favourite app to plan my trips. Their route planner is amazing.

Komoot crowdsources notes around segments and overlays them on top of the map. This is very helpful. I have used this feature to learn about cool locations, assess if a road has a lot of traffic, look at pictures, etc. These tips work a bit like reviews of specific sections.

The route planner focuses on segments. You click through the map as you add waypoints and build your trip.

I think segments are good, but the maps are missing richer information.For example, Komoot does not distinguish between segments that are part of an official trail from segments that aren’t. You can’t overlay official trails on the map. You can’t query for them.

When discovering a new region, I like to start with the official trails, but you can’t find that info on the map. I instead have to go to local websites like this and import this information to Komoot. This is both a curation problem – someone has to source this info – and a tagging problem – this info needs to be queryable/composable later.

Another example is being able to distinguish between different cycle path types. Germany has a network of long-distance cycle routes. It is helpful to distinguish cycle paths that are part of that network from normal cycle paths that you find in a city. The Komoot map does not differentiate between them.

I think Google Maps can be a good inspiration for some of the patterns that can be useful here. Google Maps has the “Transit” and “Traffic” overlays that provide richer information on the map.

As we add richer information on top of the map, we will see more powerful interactions within outdoors activities apps.

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