OffMaps in Review – Find yourself on the map, even offline!

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You know, there is a story going around the Russian iPhone community about a guy who, after his trip to Sweden for a couple of weeks, got nailed with a $30K phone bill. It is said that he was not aware that the Google Maps were downloadable and used the iPhone excessively for navigation. This is the reason why I always have data roaming turned off. But wouldn’t you love to use the awesome power of the “Jesus” phone to find your way around, even abroad? Well, there’s an app for that (I almost hate this phrase already)! Introducing, OffMaps.

The purpose of OffMaps is exceptionally simple – have your map available anywhere, anytime, regardless of internet availability. It is based on the crowd-sourced OpenStreetMaps (almost like a Wikipedia of maps) and provides information on points of interest, from landmarks to ATM machines. And it also provides route calculation and location bookmarking.

As you fire up the app, it seems a lot like the stock Google Maps with the main difference being the “Download” button at the bottom. Speaking of downloading maps – this works without a hitch. Press the button, draw the area on the map, choose the detail level and press download. There is a per-download limit of 150 Mb, meaning you won’t be able to download chunks of more than the limit at a single time, but there is no overall limit so it’s not that big of a deal. Also, I would note that the app has protection for the casual user that limits the download functionality to Wi-Fi connection ONLY.

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The general functions like scrolling and bookmarking work with no problems. A nice addition is the full-screen mode, hiding all status bars and icons to maximize the viewing area. The search functionality is not that user-friendly however, requiring you to enter the address in the specific “house, street, city, country” format. What’s even worse is that if the search fails, OffMaps will automatically shift you to the next closest level, meaning if you misspelled the street, instead of notifying you, it will return the search result of the center of city.

Another big issue is language support. While it seems to accept entry data in other languages, it completely garbles up the returned data. For example almost any search result in Russian was returned as freaky random letters. On the upside, you can search streets, points of interest and Wikipedia separately and the results usually are quite reasonable – though, of course, search doesn’t work in offline mode. Another data category completely missing from OffMaps is the public transport information. While the various bus and metro stops seem to be present on the map, there is no way to get any details on them, even what buses stop there.

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The route functionality works as well as can be expected. Provided the start and end point are found correctly, (which may be a pain, see street searching above) the route is correctly calculated. Though, since as stated previously, there is no public transport data, the results are limited to by-car and on-foot only. A nice feature is the automatic download of the maps along with the calculated route for offline use.

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The settings offer the logical choices along with an interesting feature of changing the style the map are presented. A note of caution – all of the downloaded maps will be cleared once you change the style. Another noteworthy feature is landscape view. You won’t find any hybrid views or satellite pics though.

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To sum it up – while OffMaps can’t really rival Google maps in the quality of maps or search results, it fulfills the main purpose for which it was intended – to work offline. And you can even choose which maps you’ll have access to yourself. Nevertheless, I would really like to see the developers at least improve upon and fix the search feature of the app and make it work correctly, regardless of the language used. In the end though, OffMaps is indispensable when traveling abroad, especially if you want to avoid a $30K roaming bill. If only I had the app installed on my iPhone during my last vacation…

With this I declare OffMaps officially touched.

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App Summary
Title:OffMapsDeveloper:Felix Lamouroux
Price:$2.99App Size:1.2 MB
  • Maps downloadable to peruse offline
  • Address, points of interest and Wikipedia search
  • Full-screen and landscape views
  • Poor localization support
  • Buggy address searching
  • No public transport data

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nitz1583/ Nitish

    Interesting..

  • http://www.touchmyapps.com/author/tma_chiffan/ ChiffaN

    I love comments like this :-)

  • NiTiSH

    Well, I couldn’t think of commenting anything more after such a wonderful article by you.. :)

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