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OffMaps 2: Travel The World Without Web

When i travel in my home country of Canada I benefit from the comfort of having the ability to access native maps and point-of-curiosity information using a 3G connection mixed with the inventory Maps app and a spread of more specialized offerings reminiscent of Urbanspoon and Yelp. When travelling outdoors of my dwelling and native land, 3G service is often available, but is exhorbantly expensive, leaving me to hunt down WiFi connections in order to find my bearings and locate native hotspots.

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Before my wife and i left on our newest international journey, which took us to the Netherlands, Kenya and Tanzania, I scoured the App Store for apps that permit access to map and point-of-interest knowledge within the absence of an Internet connection. I stumbled across OffMaps 2 which, at first glance, appeared to suit the invoice perfectly. Read on to study extra about this app’s features and for a report on how effectively it performed on the street.

Your Offline Map Library
Once you open up OffMaps 2, you’re greeted with a choice of maps which have already been downloaded to your system. By default, the maps are shown in icon view, with most maps represented by a characteristic photograph from the realm they cowl. When list mode is chosen, maps are grouped by country and each entry contains an data button that means that you can view the area lined by the map and obtain Wikipedia articles, if out there. Extra on Wikipedia later.

The primary screen of OffMaps 2 permits you to access all the maps that you have downloaded.
The Map Retailer

Clicking the store button in the higher proper-hand corner of the primary display screen reveals OffMaps 2’s built-in map retailer. You may locate maps both by typing a location into the search box or by looking by the map catalogue. Maps with a 3-star rating include an intensive point-of-curiosity database, which includes restaurants, lodges, museums and landmarks. Conversely, those with a one-star score have a more restricted database.

OffMaps 2’s $zero.99 buy value includes 2 free maps. For an additional $0.Ninety nine you’ll be able to purchase a credit for three extra maps, and paying $5.99 will get you unlimited access to maps. Maps are stored in a vector formatting, making them relatively small and allowing for top quality show on the iPhone 4’s Retina Show, and updates are provided free of cost. Should you travel steadily, it’s probably value springing for unlimited entry, which you’ll share between your iPhone and iPad. Having spent $70 on GPS software program in the past, spending $5.Ninety nine for maps and level-of-interest information for 1000’s of locations worldwide appears very reasonable.

The integrated map retailer accommodates 1000’s of international locations.
OpenStreetMaps: The Wikipedia of Maps

OffMaps 2 gets its map data from OpenStreetMaps (OSM), which is usually referred to because the “Wikipedia of Road Maps”. OSM is a collaborative undertaking with the goal of making a free, editable map of the world. Map information comes from a wide range of sources including portable GPS devices, aerial photography and quite a few free sources.

The accuracy and depth of the info that is obtainable by OSM varies from place-to-place. Some cities, corresponding to Amsterdam, comprise in depth information, together with transit routes and road numbers. Knowledge is more restricted for creating international locations comparable to Kenya and Tanzania. The database for my dwelling city of Vancouver is pretty rich, with some exceptions. For example, only a few streets include addresses – that means it’s simple to locate a particular street, however often troublesome to pinpoint a selected tackle.

Finding Your Approach
After selecting a map from your library, OffMaps 2 will show your present position utilizing a well-known blue dot, assuming you’re inside the realm encompassed by the selected map. Click on the blue dot and a circular menu of well-liked level-of-interest classes pops up – a nice contact. Viewing items in these categories on the map is so simple as clicking on their icon. For example, clicking on the knife and fork icon drops pins for eating places in the realm. Using the circular menu it’s also possible to bookmark your current location and share your coordinates by e-mail. The e-mail characteristic is usually solely helpful in case you happen to discover a WiFi connection shut by, though it could be used to report the situation of a favorite restaurant or museum that you simply got here throughout in your travels.

Clicking the button in the upper proper-hand corner means that you can access the Information, a group of factors-of-interest divided into categories, as well as saved bookmarks and beforehand downloaded Wikipedia articles. The Guide incorporates all of the categories you’d expect and the primary classes are further divided into sections – for instance, eating places are grouped based mostly on the type of cuisine. The Streets icon, represented by an indication-post with an arrow, permits you to browse or search through all the streets in the realm. Some maps comprise an extensive library of particular road addresses, while others will only tell you the place the street is positioned – useful for brief streets, however of restricted worth for longer ones.

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

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

Wikipedia To Go
For many destinations, OffMaps 2 offers you the choice of downloading geotagged Wikipedia articles. For instance, I left for Amsterdam with 118 articles and 519 images saved on my iPhone. Having this wealth of data at my fingertips added one other dimension to the locations we visited. Wikipedia entries can be sorted by either Identify or Distance and may even be shown as pins on the map. Additionally, you possibly can search through the list of Wikipedia articles to search out the information you’re searching for.

Optionally download Wikipedia articles, complete with photos, to take with you in your travels.
Restaurant Recommendations

The latest model of Offmaps 2 includes toptable restaurant recommendations. The amount of data offered for eating places will be extensive, including things reminiscent of signature dishes, hours of operation and even an entire menu. Currently the database includes thousands of eating places within the UK, in addition to listings for Paris, Dublin, Barcelona and New York City. toptable was recently acquired by OpenTable and I’m hoping this can imply that the database of out there eating places will increase over time.

Restaurant menus and locations can be found throughout the UK, in NYC and stone island de for select cities in Western Europe.

OffMaps 2 On Safari
My wife and i put OffMaps 2 through its paces in several cities within the Netherlands, Kenya and Tanzania. We found the database to be intensive in Amsterdam and OffMaps 2 proved to very useful for finding our lodge and a wide range of museums and other sights we visited whereas we had been in town. While most of our exploration was on foot, the integrated tram maps had been helpful when the weather turned chilly.

The database was much less in depth in Kenya and Tanzania, but OffMaps 2 still served as a useful journey companion in these exotic locations. We used the app to find a world-well-known elephant orphanage near Nairobi, to get directions to the airport in Arusha and to find a place to eat in Stone Town 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 make sure that we’d be capable of finding our manner again to the lodge.

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

Beware of Carrier Prices
You’ll have to take your iPhone out of Airplane Mode in order to use the integrated GPS. Sadly this also means that people will have the ability to call you, which could cause you to rack up significant worldwide roaming expenses. Some carriers, together with Rogers here in Canada, will charge your account while somebody leaves you a voicemail – so you might get dinged even when you don’t answer the decision.

I recommend that you just check along with your provider before leaving to avoid surprises when you return home. Other methods embrace eradicating your SIM card when you’re travelling (making sure to keep it handy in case you could make an emergency call) and solely turning Airplane Mode off when you’re using the GPS.

What’s Lacking
On the floor, OffMaps 2 appears very very similar to Maps. It’s vital to notice that each one of OffMaps 2’s knowledge is stored on the machine itself whereas Maps has access to an enormous quantity of information on the internet, together with intensive map information from business sources. So, in many ways it’s not a fair comparability.

The quality of the map and level-of-curiosity information finally determines OffMaps 2’s usefulness. As famous earlier, the accuracy and completeness of this database varies from place to put. Earlier than you set off on your travels I like to recommend that you have a look at the map knowledge for the destinations you’ll be visiting to verify the breadth of knowledge is according to what you want. In some circumstances, OffMaps 2 is more appropriate as a complement to a conventional guide guide or specialised travel app slightly than a substitute.

It might also be useful if OffMaps 2 had some type of navigation – even one thing similar to the list of instructions supplied in Maps. I was in contact with OffMaps 2 developer, Felix Lamouroux, and he’s at present looking into the potential of integrating offline routing into a future launch of the product. Pedestrian and automobile routes are additionally a possibility.

The bottom Line
I was very grateful to have OffMaps 2 during my travels and it earned a place in my 8 Crucial iPhone Apps for Touring With out Web roundup. Even with the ability to see my position on a map when travelling in a international land brought a sense of security.

Whereas the map knowledge is missing in some areas, it is actively improving as extra folks contribute to the OpenStreetMap database. The addition of an extensive point-of-curiosity database and the ability to obtain Wikipedia articles makes OffMaps 2 properly worth the worth of admission.