3 iOS Freebies for the Armchair Adventurer

There was a time when Harrison Ford ran a lot in his movies. In Blade Runner he ran after Zhora, finally catching up to her sprawled body after placing a few large bullet holes in it. Then he ran for his life from a vengeful Roy Batty only to be saved at the last minute by a dying Roy Batty. (“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe… All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”)

His most memorable run was in the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where he ran a gauntlet of traps after snatching a golden idol, then ran through the jungle with poison dart spewing natives hot on his tail. Fun times!

Nowadays Mr. Ford doesn’t run so much in his movies. He mostly walks around looking weathered and mean, like in Cowboys and Aliens, or weathered and worried as in Extraordinary Measures. Even when he went back to the adventure formula in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull his running was brief and more like a fast hobble.

I can’t talk, really. Several injuries, all minor, have the accumulatory affect of causing lots of pain when I attempt to run. So, I feel ya Harrison. I know what that’s all about.

Still, I often think of the Indiana Jones types of quests where I seek my fortune then dodge traps to escape with my butt and booty intact. Since questing is becoming less likely as I get older I must settle on doing it from the comfort of my couch. So, this week I’m going to look at apps for the armchair adventurer.

Temple Run: I’ve become disenchanted with Freemium games (good quality games offered for free, but charge, often a lot, for in-game upgrades). They get you hooked on playing them then limit how far or how quickly you can advance in the game without forking over wads of cash. It’s not my favorite thing in the world.

Temple Run

Temple Run is kinda like that. It’s free. It’s hard to advance. There’s enhancements you can buy to help you along. But you know what? I don’t care. This game is a hoot! The controls are stupefyingly simple; swipe up to jump, left or right or turn, Down to slide under stuff. Tilt your device to move you fast-running guy to one side of the path or the other to grab coins and other goodies. That’s it! After a few runs you’ll be glad it isn’t complicated.

You control an Indiana-like character who has just exited a temple after, presumably, grabbing a gold idol. He’s being chased by a bunch of skull-headed gorillas (I’m not making this up). You try to steer you idol toting guy to safety.

Actually, I don’t think he ever actually gets to safety, at least not on my watch because the obstacles come fast and often, and one misstep and he’s toast. The real objective is to see how far you can get him and how many coins he can collect before he missteps.

It’s fun, fast, and addictive. I’m thinking you’ll like Temple Run.

Canyon Country National Parks: If animated idol snatching isn’t your idea of adventure then you might want to look at Canyon Country National Parks. Here’s a free app that highlights the good stuff to the be found in our wonderful national parks out west in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.

Canyon Country

Bound to bask in the shadows of beautiful buttes? Clamoring to commune with ancient rock carvings? Vying to view vast vistas? Start with this app. It displays all of the national parks in the area and offers info on all the famous places and how to get there. It also lists local accommodations such as hotels and restaurants. Scattered around the detailed map are pinpoints. Press one and it displays a place of interest, including a color photo and distance. Often there’s also some trivia included.

Canyon Country is an iPad only app, Even if you never leave your armchair you’ll enjoy the adventures awaiting in it.

Theodolite Free: Ok, so you’ve abandoned your armchair and have actually set off for points unknown but definitely somewhere in Canyon Country. You’ve got your backpack full of trail mix, a full BPA-Free water bottle, your feet comfortably inclosed in the latest in trail shoes, and a waterproof map to guide you. You’re bringing along your iPhone only for photo ops and emergencies. You have no intention of taking or making a single call while trekking about.


As you hike on you realize that it would be kinda nice to chronicle your adventure with as much detail as possible. A mere compass won’t help out out much, but if you had a theodolite you could stop every so often a take measurements, check your heading, record stats of your location, and so on. You’d not only be an adventurer, but you’d be doing real science.

Well, here ya go, a free theodolite! Theodolite Free trumps its mechanical namesake by using GPS positioning along with your iPhone’s sensors to give you your position, bearing, inclination, and altitude. Use it and a bit of trigonometry to deduce distances, heights, vectors and more. It’s accurate and just plain cool looking. Use it in conjunction with a real compass or the one built into your iPhone to relate your map position to your current whereabouts. You can then see how the map interprets terrain features, giving you a bit more confidence in knowing exactly where you are and what’s around you.

There’s a US$4.00 upgrade that gets rid of ads and gives you added features, but you can get by with the freebie. Get it, get up, and get out. And you don’t have to run if you don’t want to. The old Indy would be proud.

Ok, that’s a wrap for this week. More free stuff for the armchair adventurer below with direct links.