Part of the fun in travelling is exploring new places. When Internet access is limited, some of us may have to revert to using printed maps. However, if you are on Android, there is an app called OsmAnd, an offline-mapping app that can serve as your GPS-enabled navigation solution.
OsmAnd has a large database of maps that you can download to your Android device. The app also comes with offline search features that include directions, addresses, points of interest, GPS navigation, safety features and expandable plugins to help you get the most out of this mapping app.
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Start the app and head over to Settings > Data Management > Download button (as per screenshot) to access the download section. You have over 200 downloadable country maps to choose from. Here is the full list of supported country maps.
If you need to save on space, you can also choose to download the road-only maps instead of the full ones. To download, simply tick the boxes and press the download button that appears at the bottom of the screen.
Offline Search & Navigation
With OsmAnd, you can navigate your way with your downloaded maps without an Internet connection. Both the Search and the Navigation functions work offline. You just need to turn on your GPS.
The app will automatically use the GPS function on your device to determine your current location and look for the appropriate map. This will load up your required map when you start the app.
On the bottom left side of the screen, look for the Options button and tap on it to open a list of menus. Next, tap on Search.
You can search for addresses and points of interest or use filters to narrow down your search results.
In this example, we will demonstrate using the address search function to navigate to a location. Tap on the House icon to go to the address search. Input the address of your destination accordingly.
From here, you can choose whether to start navigating, to add this destination as a waypoint, to have the app show the destination on the map or to add the location to your favorites.
To start navigating, just tap on Directions. Choose between directions for driving, cycling or walking. Tap on Start navigation.
This is basically what your map will look like.
While the map designs may need some sprucing up, OsmAnd offers a few other features that may benefit you in your travels:
- Safety – Enable day / night view, speed limit display, speed-dependant map zooming, and location sharing.
- Bicycle and Pedestrian – The maps also include options for foot, hiking, and bike paths with special routing and display mode.
- Plugins – OsmAnd has a free plugin to mark your parked car location anywhere on the map with or without a timer and another one [$2] to display contour lines and hillshade views on the map.
There are a few limitations to using OsmAnd. It only allows up to 10 free downloads (e.g. offline maps, online and tile maps, voice data, updates). The paid version costs $8.07, which removes this limit and gives you added features like Wikipedia POIs (good for sightseeing).
The map file sizes can be overwhelming on your device. It does not have a world basemap so if you are travelling across several countries, you need to have the country maps downloaded into your device. There are also comments by past users about the map not being user-friendly enough.
If however you are an avid traveller, this app may be a good investment for your travels. Let us know if you will be getting it.