Monday, September 6, 2010

Free Android Offline Maps

I was researching what to use instead of road and travel maps on paper with my Android phone.

At home Google Maps works just fine. However the data roaming charges immediately rule out this solution when abroad.

If you would like to spend from 40 EUR to 90 EUR you can purchase offline navigation from Sygic:  The price depends on maps coverage. All the maps they have would run you 488 EUR.

There are probably other offline options but they seem to be bound to some mobile operator and are quite difficult to purchase.

So I looked at the free offerings. The options which are not violating Google's or somebody else's TOS are bound to be based on OpenStreetMap data. OpeStreetMap is a world wiki map founded in 2004. It has gone a long way in terms of coverage, data amount and infrastructure reliability during it's history. Many areas are very thoroughly mapped. The biggest problem for our use case I see is spotty quality of house numbers. However roads, cities, streets and streetnames data should in most cases allow for adequate replacement of travel and road maps on paper.

Another thing which is preventing free solutions to compete with established turn-by-turn voice navigation is a lack of free and quality routing data. This is probably going to be true for some more time to come. That's also why I have little hope for a free solution to compete with established vendors of turn by turn navigations.

Before we look at the free options let's define some terms.

Geocoding - process of translating textual representation of place to it's geographic coordinates. Whenever you use text "search" or something similar geocoding is necessary step to show you the place on map.

Vector map data -  Just a bunch of points, lines and attributes. Advantage: map data of Germany weight around 200-300 MB.

Raster map data - The data is stored in form of final images. Advantage: no rendering needed on the device. Major drawback among others: map data of Germany down to low resolution streetlevel weight around 15 GB.

The options:

 This application is no longer actively developed and the geocoding functionality never worked for me. Another problem with the geocoding service is that it seems to be online-only.  The nice part of this application is an option to preload displayed area to the memory card of the phone. You can move to the area of interest and choose what level of details you need for the area. Then just tap "preload" from map menu and the raster tiles start to flow into your phone. This is the most intuitive way of downloading the region of interest. The lack of geocoding functionality is bad. However I still was able to use this program. Before my trip to Budapest I downloaded the region, and found the addresses I needed using Google Maps at home. Then, inside AndNav2 I created favorites of the places and off I went. This was sufficient not to get lost while moving between trainstation, hotel and some landmarks. Not the most comfortable and flexible solution but the program helped a lot. Basic navigation, zooming and compass functions of the program are functional and nice. Another strange thing with this program is that you can't really get it from any official source. The application is not in Android Market anymore and the official homapage offers only broken links for downloading the apk file. To get the application APK head here:

Pros: Intuitive map download - preload
Cons: non-functional geocoding, not developed any more, broken download links, raster data

This is a nice application. You can download and install it from Android Market. To use geocoding you have to download indexes through the application menu. There is a small problem for first time user, though. The list of world regions to download has several hundred items which is quite intimidating.  After you fight through the list and download the indexes you need you are only half done with preparations for offline usage.  The biggest drawback of the program for me is the need to download the map tiles with your computer. The toolto do it is called OsmAnd Map Creator. It's a Java (cross-platform) program and is quite intutive.

After these preparations you can start using the map in offline mode. The address search as well as the  map display and navigation are intuitive and work fine. Compass is missing.

Pros: usable offline map and offline geocoding
Cons: need for a external computer program, raster data

This application is free of charge but it's not opensource. It's actually a teaser for other applications of the  same vendor. It has no geocoding and no favorites, so it's usefulnes as paper map replacement is limited. However it has in-phone user interface to download vector maps of the countries you need. As a basic tool to navigate around a city it might be sufficient. I tried to use it during my trip to Birmingham, but with little success. I couldn't really tell which way to walk. Incomplete rendering, non-intuitive compass mode and incomplete OSM data in this area might all have contributed to this.

Basic tool to display online OpenStreetMap data. No geocoding, no favorites, no POIs.


  1. All the mentioned apps in this post are truly useful. Very well written and informative.

    1. Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. big data projects for students But it’s not the amount of data that’s important. Project Center in Chennai It’s what organizations do with the data that matters. Big data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.

      Spring Framework has already made serious inroads as an integrated technology stack for building user-facing applications. Corporate TRaining Spring Framework the authors explore the idea of using Java in Big Data platforms.

      Specifically, Spring Framework provides various tasks are geared around preparing data for further analysis and visualization. Spring Training in Chennai

      The Angular Training covers a wide range of topics including Components, Angular Directives, Angular Services, Pipes, security fundamentals, Routing, and Angular programmability. The new Angular TRaining will lay the foundation you need to specialise in Single Page Application developer. Angular Training

  2. The Google phones have recently become incredibly popular, thanks to Google's Android operating system. Several cell phone producers are incorporating the Android operating system into their cell phones.ShowBox APK

  3. Well Said, you have furnished the right information that will be useful to anyone at all time. Thanks for sharing your Ideas.

    software testing course in chennai

  4. provides authentic IT Certification exams preparation material guaranteed to make you pass in the first attempt, this is the right platform where you can get exact 700-905 exam braindumps.

  5. This article gives the light in we can observe the reality. This is very nice one and gives indepth information. Thanks for this nice article.
    Kroger experience

  6. This is highly informatics, crisp and clear. I think everything has been described in systematic manner so that reader could get maximum information and learn many things.

  7. This is just the information I am finding everywhere. Thanks your blog, I just subscribe your blog. This is a nice blog..

  8. Great things you’ve always with us. Just keep writing this kind of posts.The time which was wasted in traveling for tuition now it can be used for studies.Thanks

  9. Please continue this great work and I forward to more of your awesome blog posts.
    UPS employee portal

  10. I admit, I have not been on web page in a long time.however it was another joy to see It is such an important topic and ignored by so many, even professionals. professionals. I thank you to help making people more aware of possible issues.
    seo tools


  11. I am happy to find this post useful for me, as it contains lot of information. I always prefer to read the quality content and this thing I found in you post. Thanks for sharing.

    survey monkey usa

  12. A great service provider with quality and low prices for everyone in these difficult times, without any visit you can take our services just by contact us through site. 
    ac maintenance in dubai
    ac service in dubai

  13. The article was up to the point and described the information very effectively. Thanks to blog author for wonderful and informative post.

  14. The article was up to the point and described the information very effectively. Thanks to blog author for wonderful and informative post.
    tell the bell

  15. The article was up to the point and described the information very effectively. Thanks to blog author for wonderful and informative post.

  16. Kroger Feed made an Online Employee Portal named Feed Kroger Login Portal or Website and in order to perform the sign in or log in, you need to open the official website URL which is on any of your favorite browser.

  17. Buy Modafinil Online at your door step from one & only trusted pharma in this ERA. Buying Modafinil 100mg with Credit card.

  18. Thanks very much for sharing these links. Will definitely check this

  19. Slot Games - Jtm Hub
    Play online 김포 출장샵 slots at JTM casino. Claim a Welcome Bonus up to $1000 and enjoy our wide variety of slot games. 남양주 출장마사지 No deposit 논산 출장안마 required!‎Popular Slot Machines 전주 출장마사지 · ‎Popular Slot Machines · ‎Popular Slot Machines 의정부 출장샵 · ‎Popular Slot Machines