Cambridge-based ViewRanger has hit the publicity jackpot as the navigation app was showcased during the launch of the new Apple Watch Series 2 watched live by an estimated 40 million people around the world.
Why? It has been selected to be the first hiking app to use the new GPS-enabled watch and it's all been a bit of a surprise for the brand, albeit a nice one: “These are incredibly exciting times for ViewRanger and to be recognised on a global stage like this is a great endorsement of how far the app has come. Who knows what the future holds?" enthused a still mildly shell-shocked Oli Reed from the company when we met yesterday.
Turns out the whole affair was shrouded in secrecy with a ViewRanger developer and designer summonsed to Apple HQ where they were shut away in an internet-free room for several weeks as they developed a version of the app for the new watch.
You can see what eventually happened in the launch video below - fast forward to 37min 50sec and you'll see developer Hannah Catmur presenting live on stage along with Apple CEO Tim Cook, which is kind of cool.
The Outdoors Apple Watch
If you're a tech-head, you probably know about the new Apple Watch Series 2 already, but for the rest of us, the two most important aspects of it are that unlike the first version, it incorporates its own GPS receiver rather than simply linking wirelessly to your phone.
And that it's pretty much waterproof in use. Swim-proof in fact down to 50 metres. And Apple is promoting it as an aid to getting out there and doing stuff. Which is where ViewRanger comes in.
Such was the secrecy surrounding the development process that full details about what the new app can do are still unclear, but, but judging from the launch video, we're talking a self-contained navigational unit capable of being run solely from the watch itself.
Features include routes downloaded onto the watch, on-the-wrist-mapping, route details, and an audible warning if you stray from your chosen course. There's a trip-meter too and even images of 'hot-spots' complete with key information.
World Class Company
If you want confirmation that this is a bit of a big deal for a relatively small British tech outfit, check out some of the other brands involved with the Apple Watch. In particular, on the running front, Apple is working with Nike with a version of the watch targeted directly at runners.
And it's a big deal for Nike as well with their Brand President, no less appearing on stage with Apple CEO Tim Cook and, of course, Hannah Catmur.
The watch will be out in the UK on Friday 16 September with the app mooted to be ready to go at the same time. It's not going to be a cheap purchase though with the entry-level price set at £399 - up at top-end GPS outdoor watch level.
Details of the app are scant so far, it's not clear, for example, whether it will use Ordnance Survey mapping, but it should be coming soon and all will be revealed then.
Phone App Update
Meanwhile ViewRanger is also about to update its Smartphone app with a new heads-up display feature which overlays direction arrows over a live camera view of your course - we've used it in prototype form already and it's a really ingenious and interesting new feature. More on that shortly.
We've long reckoned that the brand is the clear leader when it comes to navigation apps and it's great to see that being recognised on a world stage.