The Cartographer in Review – Old-style maps on your space age iDevice

Travelling abroad with an iPhone, one thing I always miss the most is cell data. While theoretically I could turn on roaming, I would have to mortgage my house to do so. And this also means that unless I find a Wi-Fi hotspot I’m stuck without the lovely Google Maps that I, as many others, have grown so accustomed to. And with my wife making extensive use of the handy My Maps feature of Google’s to plan our trip, this is even more depressing. And then I learned about The Cartographer by Tasty Pixel.

The idea of The Cartographer is plain and simple: it provides you with a way to browse your maps offline and have access to the power of Google My Maps (i.e. placing custom markers with notes). And it does so in a fantastic old fashioned interface, with custom sources to choose from. But let’s examine the features in more detail.

For those of you not in the know, Google My Maps is a seldom advertised and somewhat hidden feature of Google Maps that allows you to place custom markers on a map and even add comments. Additionally you can put these markers on separate map layers (think of them as folders) to have convenient control over them. Why support for these My Maps is not included in the stock Maps app is beyond me, but with Cartographer you can easily access ones tied to your Google account, and more than one if necessary. And you can even edit and create new ones right from the comfort of your iDevice.

The second feature is invaluable as well – downloading maps for later offline access. Whether you’re out of the country with extreme roaming fees or simply away from network coverage, it’s difficult to estimate the usefulness of the ability to check the map regardless of your connection. And though the app doesn’t allow you to cache maps from Google, switching over to OpenStreetMaps.org instead, it allows to intuitively select the area and detail you want to cache, making the process seamless and even matching the location of the My Maps markers automatically.

A nice bonus feature is The Cartographer’s original vintage visual style. Just one look at the screenshots and you’ll understand what I mean. And if such a style is not your particular cup of tea, you can tune down the “vintaginess” (yes, I know there’s no such word) in the Settings. Probably the only real gripe I have with The Cartographer is the absence of any kind of native iPad support, be it via a separate app or a universal version.

If you find yourself on the road more than once in a while you’ll definitely appreciate all the features The Cartographer has to offer. It does lack universal app support and only caches maps from OpenStreetMaps.org. But even out in on the sea with no wireless access in sight, it will allow you to feel almost like an ancient Viking explorer, especially with the “vintage” meter turned to the max. And having all your My Maps markers accessible along with any comments is sure to allow you not to miss even the slightest detail of your plan and make your trip truly unforgettable.

With this I declare The Cartographer officially touched! Land-ho!

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: The CartographerDeveloper: A Tasty Pixel
Reviewed Ver:1.4.2Min OS Req:3.1
Price:$3.99App Size:6.84MB
  • Access to Google My Maps
  • Offline map and My Maps caching
  • Multiple Google accounts supported
  • Unique vintage look
  • No universal app support
  • Doesn’t cache Google version of maps

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