Having a map when going to a place you haven’t been to before generally can be seen as a good suggestion. And with Smartphones being constantly connected to the Internet all the power of Google Maps is just a little fumbling on your touchscreen away.
But what if you go to a place where you cannot use the Internet? For example because you don’t want roaming charges to use up 50% of your holiday budget.
I am soon going to be in this situation (again) and plan to be prepared (better than last time).
Thus I was looking for applications that could not only display maps using some sort of connection to the Internet, but could also store maps locally in order to use them when without this precious link to the world.

I have found several, as expected, and decided to give the previously tried OsmAnd another shot, and also installed the previously untested Offline Maps and Locus.
Offline Maps failed quickly, asking me to pay 30HKD to download the maps I wanted. Okay, I could have downloaded 10 map packs, so 30HKD seems reasonable enough to me, but I only wanted 1, I don’t know exactly what I’m gonna get for my money and I’m not even sure yet if I want to use Offline Maps. So it quickly lost out due to some strange pricing model. Why can’t I just pay 3HKD per map pack? Hell, make it 5… But a minimum purchase isn’t nice at all.

That being done the next candidate has the advantage that I tried it before. I once failed using OsmAnd to download some interesting maps, but the problem may have been me…
Anyway, OsmAnd is pretty nice about the POI (Points Of Interest) packs it can download, but is a pain in the ass to actually download map data from one of the many available sources. Reason is that OsmAnd doesn’t offer you nice map packs for download, along with the already available POI and transportation packs. Simply because those map packs would be huge.
In order to download a map with OsmAnd you have to actually load it. Whatever OsmAnd displays is cached for offline use. So, if you need different zoom levels you’ll have to do the zooming and possibly quite some panning in order to get all the pieces you want.

The final candidate so far also seems to be the best candidate. Locus is doing its job pretty good, an occasional error when downloading maps aside, and is a lot easier to manage. In order to download the map you can choose options like the current screen, an area you mark, or selection of specific country. Afterwards you specify the zoom levels you want, including a nice, little display on how much the whole download is going to consume on your SD-card, and off you go.

So, thus far it looks like Locus will win over OsmAnd. But I guess I will see who take the cake by the end of this year.

Thank you!
Dennis Wronka

Advertisements