If you're looking for an easy way to track the locations and driving habits of your employees, you don't have to drop the large investment for blackboxes -- especially if you have Android tablets. The only other thing you'll need is a piece of software called MyCarTracks.
With this easy-to-use app, you don't have to go through the hoops of a service installation in your vehicles. All you do is install the app on the tablet, get an account with MyCarTracks, configure your cars, and off you go!
At the moment, the app and the service is free (the app will remain free). The company is currently working on pricing plans, and at the time of this writing, there's no word on what those plans will be. There will be a free service (most likely for single auto home users, so that parents can track teenagers as they drive about), and I suspect they'll also offer a tiered pricing system for multi-vehicles all the way up to fleets.
Current MyCarTracks features:
- User-friendly Android app
- Highly customizable
- Online and offline tracking
- Trip mapping and real-time positioning
- Manage vehicles from web-based dashboard
- Log and reports
Features in the works:
- Expense tracking
- Geofence and alerts
- Workforce management
- iOS app
- Fleet management
- Windows app
Let's walk through the process of installing MyCarTracks and configuring it for use. Once you know how to manage a single vehicle, working with multiple cars/trucks is simple.
The installation of the MyCarTracks app is easy. Just follow these steps:
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android tablet
- Search for "mycartracks" (No quotes)
- Tap Download
- Tap Accept & install
- Allow the installation to complete
Getting an account
You'll notice that when you go to MyCarTracks, there's no current means of registering. If, however, you log into your Google account, you can then authenticate to MyCarTracks with that account. Logging in to your tablet is the same -- allow MyCarTracks to authenticate with your Google account. Once your tablet and the web site have authenticated, you're ready to begin working with MyCarTracks.
Set upThe first thing you'll need to do is make sure location services are turned on for your tablet. You should be prompted to enable the GPS satellites when you fire up the application (Figure A). Figure A
MyCarTracks on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab.Tap the bar at the top of the screen (the one asking to "Please tap here...") to go to the GPS settings on the tablet. Once you're in the settings, make sure all three Location services options are checked (Figure B). Figure B
Location services use more battery, but they're necessary for MyCarTracks to function.Now that the GPS is properly configured, hop on over to the MyCarTracks web site and set up your vehicles. But first, you'll need to finish setting up your account. On the MyCarTracks dashboard (Figure C), you should see a Warning stating "Before using we recommend to update your account timezone and units" with a link that will take you to your account settings. Click that link, and then configure your account to fit your needs. Figure C
From this screen, you configure your vehicles.With your account setup complete, go back to the dashboard and click on the Cars tab (Figure D) to begin setting up your vehicles. Figure D
By default, there will be one car called Default car.
When you add a new car, you need the following information:
- Odometer start*
- Share car
* Denotes required field.
NOTE: The Share car is a comma separated list of email addresses for people that use the particular car.Fill out the information and save the car. When you've finished saving all the cars, you'll have to go to each tablet and tap menu, More, and then Synchronize all (Figure E). Figure E
You can also add a car from this screen by tapping Add car.
Once you have this set up, you can begin recording your tracks by tapping Start Recording from the main screen. There's also a beta feature that begins recording as soon as the vehicle starts moving. To set this, do the following:
- From the MyCarTracks main window, tap menu | Settings
- Tap Auto Recording (BETA)
- Tap Auto Recording action
- Select On car move
- From the main screen, tap the Auto recording button (bottom right corner)
With this set up, recording of tracks will begin as soon as the vehicle begins moving.
For anyone looking to track employees and vehicles, MyCarTracks is an easy-to-use solution. Though there currently isn't any indication as to what the pricing will be, I'm fairly certain it will be cheaper than having permanent GPS devices installed into your company fleet. Does this app sound like something that would benefit your organization? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.