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OffMaps 2: Travel The World With out Internet

Once i travel in my home nation of Canada I benefit from the comfort of with the ability to entry local maps and point-of-interest information utilizing a 3G connection mixed with the inventory Maps app and a range of more specialized offerings reminiscent of Urbanspoon and Yelp. When travelling outdoors of my residence and native land, 3G service is usually obtainable, but is exhorbantly costly, leaving me to hunt down WiFi connections in order to seek out my bearings and locate local hotspots.

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Earlier than my wife and that i left on our newest international adventure, which took us to the Netherlands, Kenya and Tanzania, I scoured the App Retailer for apps that allow access to map and point-of-curiosity knowledge in the absence of an Internet connection. I stumbled throughout OffMaps 2 which, at first look, seemed to suit the bill perfectly. Read on to study more about this app’s features and for a report on how properly it carried out on the road.

Your Offline Map Library
Whenever you open up OffMaps 2, you’re greeted with a stone island shacket choice of maps which have already been downloaded to your gadget. By default, the maps are proven in icon view, with most maps represented by a characteristic picture from the area they cover. When listing mode is chosen, maps are grouped by country and every entry consists of an information button that allows you to view the realm covered by the map and download Wikipedia articles, if available. More on Wikipedia later.

The main screen of OffMaps 2 allows you to access all the maps that you’ve got downloaded.
The Map Store

Clicking the store button within the upper proper-hand corner of the main screen reveals OffMaps 2’s built-in map store. You may find maps either by typing a location into the search box or by searching by means of the map catalogue. Maps with a three-star ranking contain an intensive point-of-interest database, which includes eating places, resorts, museums and landmarks. Conversely, these with a one-star rating have a more limited database.

OffMaps 2’s $zero.Ninety nine buy price contains 2 free maps. For a further $zero.Ninety nine you can buy a credit for 3 extra maps, and paying $5.Ninety nine will get you unlimited entry to maps. Maps are saved in a vector formatting, making them relatively small and permitting for prime quality display on the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, and updates are provided freed from charge. Should you journey regularly, it’s in all probability value springing for limitless access, which you’ll share between your iPhone and iPad. Having spent $70 on GPS software prior to now, spending $5.99 for maps and point-of-interest information for 1000’s of destinations worldwide seems very affordable.

The built-in map store comprises 1000’s of worldwide destinations.
OpenStreetMaps: The Wikipedia of Maps

OffMaps 2 gets its map information from OpenStreetMaps (OSM), which is often referred to as the “Wikipedia of Road Maps”. OSM is a collaborative challenge with the objective of creating a free, editable map of the world. Map information comes from a wide range of sources including portable GPS gadgets, aerial images and numerous free sources.

The accuracy and depth of the info that is out there by way of OSM varies from place-to-place. Some cities, reminiscent of Amsterdam, contain extensive data, together with transit routes and street numbers. Data is extra limited for growing countries comparable to Kenya and Tanzania. The database for my house metropolis of Vancouver is fairly wealthy, with some exceptions. For example, very few streets include addresses – meaning it’s simple to find a selected road, but often difficult to pinpoint a specific address.

Finding Your Manner
After deciding on a map out of your library, OffMaps 2 will present your current place using a familiar blue dot, assuming you’re within the world encompassed by the selected map. Click the blue dot and a circular menu of well-liked point-of-curiosity classes pops up – a pleasant touch. Viewing gadgets in these classes on the map is as simple as clicking on their icon. For instance, clicking on the knife and fork icon drops pins for eating places in the area. Using the circular menu you may as well bookmark your present location and share your coordinates by e-mail. The e-mail feature is generally solely useful should you occur to find a WiFi connection close by, though it may very well be used to record the location of a favourite restaurant or museum that you came across in your travels.

Clicking the button within the upper proper-hand corner means that you can entry the Guide, a collection of factors-of-interest divided into classes, as well as saved bookmarks and previously downloaded Wikipedia articles. The Information contains all the categories you’d expect and the main classes are further divided into sections – for example, restaurants are grouped based on the kind of delicacies. The Streets icon, represented by an indication-put up with an arrow, allows you to browse or search by all of the streets in the world. Some maps comprise an in depth library of particular road addresses, while others will only inform you where the road is located – useful for brief streets, however of restricted worth for longer ones.

As is the case with Maps, OffMaps 2 could make use of the constructed-in compass to indicate which route you’re heading. Surprisingly helpful when a jet-lagged traveller in a unfamiliar territory.

An modern circular menu permits you to locate frequent level-of-curiosity classes without leaving the map view.

Wikipedia To Go
For many locations, OffMaps 2 gives you the option of downloading geotagged Wikipedia articles. For instance, I left for Amsterdam with 118 articles and 519 photographs stored on my iPhone. Having this wealth of information at my fingertips added one other dimension to the locations we visited. Wikipedia entries could be sorted by either Title or Distance and can even be proven as pins on the map. Moreover, you possibly can search via the record of Wikipedia articles to seek out the knowledge you’re searching for.

Optionally obtain Wikipedia articles, full with images, to take with you on your travels.
Restaurant Suggestions

The latest version of Offmaps 2 contains toptable restaurant recommendations. The quantity of information offered for eating places will be intensive, including things resembling signature dishes, hours of operation and even an entire menu. Presently the database consists of hundreds of eating places within the UK, in addition to listings for Paris, Dublin, Barcelona and New York Metropolis. toptable was just lately acquired by OpenTable and I’m hoping this will imply that the database of obtainable eating places will enhance over time.

Restaurant menus and destinations can be found throughout the UK, in NYC and for choose cities in Western Europe.

OffMaps 2 On Safari
My wife and that i put OffMaps 2 by means of its paces in a number of cities in the Netherlands, Kenya and Tanzania. We discovered the database to be intensive in Amsterdam and OffMaps 2 proved to very useful for locating our resort and quite a lot of museums and different sights we visited whereas we had been in town. While most of our exploration was on foot, the built-in tram maps have been handy when the weather turned chilly.

The database was much less in depth in Kenya and Tanzania, but OffMaps 2 still served as a helpful travel companion in these exotic locations. We used the app to find a world-well-known elephant orphanage close to Nairobi, to get directions to the airport in Arusha and to seek out a spot to eat in Stone City on the island of Zanzibar. We additionally discovered it helpful to be able to drop a bookmark after we went out for a stroll to ensure that we’d be capable of finding our manner again to the resort.

OffMaps 2 helped us find an elephant orphanage close to Nairobi, Kenya and the airport in Arusha, Tanzania.

Beware of Provider Expenses
You’ll have to take your iPhone out of Airplane Mode so as to use the built-in GPS. Unfortunately this also means that individuals will have the ability to call you, which might cause you to rack up vital worldwide roaming expenses. Some carriers, together with Rogers here in Canada, will charge your account whereas someone leaves you a voicemail – so you can get dinged even when you don’t reply the call.

I like to recommend that you simply test along with your provider before leaving to keep away from surprises whenever you return home. Different methods embrace removing your SIM card when you’re travelling (making sure to keep it useful in case it’s essential make an emergency name) and only turning Airplane Mode off when you’re utilizing the GPS.

What’s Lacking
On the surface, OffMaps 2 seems to be very very like Maps. It’s important to notice that every one of OffMaps 2’s knowledge is saved on the gadget itself whereas Maps has entry to an enormous amount of data on the web, together with intensive map information from industrial sources. So, in some ways it’s not a good comparison.

The standard of the map and level-of-interest knowledge finally determines OffMaps 2’s usefulness. As noted earlier, the accuracy and completeness of this database varies from place to position. Earlier than you set off in your travels I recommend that you just have a look on the map data for the locations you’ll be visiting to make sure the breadth of information is in keeping with what you want. In some instances, OffMaps 2 is more suitable as a complement to a conventional guide book or specialised travel app slightly than a alternative.

It might even be handy if OffMaps 2 had some form of navigation – even one thing similar to the list of directions offered in Maps. I used to be in touch with OffMaps 2 developer, Felix Lamouroux, and he’s presently looking into the potential for integrating offline routing into a future launch of the product. Pedestrian and automotive routes are also a possibility.

The bottom Line
I used to be very grateful to have OffMaps 2 during my travels and it earned a spot in my eight Crucial iPhone Apps for Traveling Without Web roundup. Even having the ability to see my position on a map when travelling in a foreign land introduced a way of security.

While the map data is missing in some areas, it’s actively improving as extra people contribute to the OpenStreetMap database. The addition of an extensive point-of-curiosity database and the ability to download Wikipedia articles makes OffMaps 2 nicely worth the price of admission.

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