I do a fair bit of walking with my girlfriend at the weekends and I like to record the routes using my phone and an app called My Tracks. Unfortunately, I was finding that my current device (the Evo 3D) often wouldn’t have enough battery to last the distance. It was fine for a run around the park, but a day long hike with GPS on constantly was just too much to ask. It must be all those CPU cores supping up all the juice… Then I had the idea to transform an old HTC Tattoo I had gathering dust in a drawer into a single purpose GPS unit.

The first thing I did was order a gigantic battery. This 2600mAh battery is almost 2.5 times larger than the stock 1100mAh battery that comes with the the Tattoo and helps the device last a whole day with GPS constantly on. It makes the phone pretty bulky, which is the sort of thing that would annoy me if this was my primary phone in my pocket, but since this is just for hiking, I’ll always have a backpack with me, so it isn’t a problem.

The next thing I wanted to do was tweak the device’s homescreen. I wanted something simple as all I needed to do was launch My Tracks to record walks, launch Google Drive to transfer exported recordings over WiFi and to have some sort of indication of the battery level.

I already had CyanogenMod installed on the Tattoo which comes with the super flexible ADW Launcher. In the ADW.L settings I did the following:

  • Screen Preferences > Hide Status Bar - The device doesn’t have a SIM card in it. I don’t need to see the signal strength icon.
  • Screen Preferences > Hide Icon Labels - I only need two icons. I know what they do.
  • UI Settings > Main Dock Style None - I don’t need a dock with the phone and messaging icons.

I also changed more general settings:

  • Menu > Edit - Remove all but one home screens
  • Because I’d removed the dock, I added an ‘open app drawer’ icon to the homescreen, using the following icon:

Finally I added a couple widgets to my homescreen:

And that’s it. It feels good taking something that was gathering dust and turning it into something useful.