Does an android GPS app with these specs exist?

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by Kawazacky, Apr 17, 2013.

  1. Kawazacky

    Kawazacky Mad Typist

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    Hi guys,

    I've been looking for an app with the following specs now for a few days, with no luck. I've downloaded several free ones, called several companies that offer "pay to play" apps, and so far, no luck. (BTW, I'm using a Samsung Galaxy S3).

    Here's what I am looking for:

    1) Offline navigation. I intend to use this when I travel outside Canada, and US data roaming charges are unacceptable.

    2). Coverage of North America. I want to be able to ride from Canada's east coast to the west coast of the US and rely on the app the whole way. That rules out Google's offerings, as they can only download smaller tiles.

    3). Motorcycle-friendly routing. In other words, I don't want the GPS to figure out how to get from A to B, then take me down the Interstate - I want to be able to designate my own route, as I can in Google Maps, and then have the GPS guide me down that route.

    I have not been able to find an app yet that lets me do this. Ideally, I'd love an app that let me build a route in Google Maps or Basecamp on my PC, then upload that to my app. Barring that, an app that lets me easily "fool" the gps into creating my route would also work; this is what I have been trying to do with Navigator 12.

    A potential workaround: by creating waypoints along the roads I want to take, I reckon the GPS will have to route me along those roads to get me to my goal. However, Navigator's user interface on the PC sucks, big time. It's the same user interface as found in the app, nowhere near as good as say, Google Maps. It's especially frustrating that its POI database seems to be terrible.

    NOW!

    I THINK I might be able to do what I want with Sygic, by creating a map in Google Maps and downloading it as a KML, then converting to txt with GPSConverter. Then, supposedly, I can upload that txt file into Sygic. However, I haven't been able to get in touch with anyone from Sygic, and I don't have $60 to spend on their app, only to find out it doesn't work.

    For all you wags who might say "Go out and buy a GPS."

    1). I already have a handheld ETrex. The main reason I'm not taking it is that it doesn't have audio turn by turn routing. That, and anyone who's tried putting even a short route into an ETrex soon runs into problems that require use of GPX Splitter, etc, at least in my experience.
    2). I'm considering writing an article for Canada Moto Guide about replacing your GPS unit with a smartphone app; it would certainly cut down on the amount of equipment a motorcyclist has to carry.
    3). I have a smartphone already.
    #1
  2. BKMLWR

    BKMLWR Wondering around...

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    #2
  3. Kawazacky

    Kawazacky Mad Typist

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  4. Kawazacky

    Kawazacky Mad Typist

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    Upon quick further investigation, it looks very interesting, but it seems I either have to create my own map (a cool long term idea) or use an ONLINE existing map?
    #4
  5. BKMLWR

    BKMLWR Wondering around...

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    this link might help to how inmate Pundy used it...

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=21014405&postcount=34207
    they were using tablets as mentioned but I would think any android device would do

    the key may be to have several microSD cards with mapping images loaded for different areas.
    I have all of western Nfld downloaded at several zoom levels in Bing and Google Earth and each takes about 3Gb of memory space but it will allow me to use my netbook anywhere with no cell or internet and get a good look at where I am...
    #5
  6. MrMac

    MrMac Long timer

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    CoPilot works for me..

    Offline (N. America and other maps available for download on the device).

    Great planning tool once you figure it out. You can add multiple waypoints, stops, etc. using POI's, addresses, Photo Nav, pull from your contacts, Google & Wiki search (on-line only), or 'drag' routing by moving the route on screen. Or tap a location and select 'route through here'.

    Has a 'motorcycle' as a vehicle option. Generally will 'prefer' non-interstates but you'll still need to use your own judgement.

    **Doesn't have a desktop (ie.Google) planning option. It is actually possible but not really easy. But it works well enough on the device that I rarely want to use anything else anyway.

    I use it on my Samsung music player (hence, no phone/data, only WiFi where available). Also have it on my phone if I want live traffic.
    #6
  7. bhorocks

    bhorocks Been here awhile

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    Check out backcountry navigator. You can upload tracks to that. Wont do routing though... you can do offline maps. Topo., earth etc. I have used it riding before.
    May or may not be what you are looking for.
    #7
  8. bhorocks

    bhorocks Been here awhile

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    Oops didnt read all info... but I still like the app...
    #8
  9. Kawazacky

    Kawazacky Mad Typist

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    I will check it out.

    Sent from my SGH-I747M using Tapatalk 2
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  10. moto rrad

    moto rrad ADV n00b

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    any luck with the search? I, like you, like many, am looking for that "perfect app" which will tick all the boxes on your list. Personally, I want to keep it light and simple when I travel. Taking GPS, camera, laptop plus all the accessory cables is just too much. Keep it simple, one device will do it all (within reason).

    Looking at the Sony Xperia Z (waterproof) + GPS app, and I'm golden :D

    So.. :ear
    #10
  11. Beer_me

    Beer_me JY

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    I've been on a parallel quest. Tried Orux... I decided it wasn't turnkey enough; I don't have that kind of time anymore. Stumbled upon ViewRanger recently; here's the google play app page: http://goo.gl/YFFhX0 (this is the correct free version to try; the "Trial" version is not the one you want)

    Here's their website that sells the features of the app:
    http://www.viewranger.com/en-us
    If you click the support link, it takes you here, http://www.viewranger.com/en-us/support/support
    And clicking on which phone system you're running brings up a decent wiki for stepping through the nuances of using it.

    Lastly, the app has an online gateway with a somewhat weak attempt at a social aspect, but it lets you build routes (specific turn by turn itineraries--THE KEY FEATURE for me) or upload existing routes from *.GPX files. You have to create a membership so you have that minor hassle, but otherwise, it's a pretty decent interface:
    http://my.viewranger.com/

    So you'll immediately note that this app was built primarily for hiking, but it does have driving and "greenlaning" (Brits' off-roading equivalent I guess) auto routing options. There's a lot to the app but some of the highlights for me are:
    -Afforementioned route building and track recording (saving) and auto/manual syncing with my.viewranger.com
    - Maps can be downloaded to your phone so you can turn off your data connection and still navigate; I have done this. It's straightforward with the OpenStreetMap and file sizes are small.
    - A "buddy beacon" feature that allows others (I think they too need a viewranger account) to see you. I haven't tried this but want to so that my wife can check that I'm still moving and I don't have to stop to check in. Not sure if this still works if my data connection is off.
    - The paid version ($15) includes full USGS topos; my buddy bought it and the maps look good.

    I built a route and shared it publically and it seems to be the only one in Northern VA and perhaps the greater metro DC so I guess I'm on leading the charge on this.

    My challenge has been as much in the hardware as the soft- because I have a battery-hogging phone -- Galaxy Nexus. But I'll likely replace it soon (heavily shopping waterproof and water resistant options) and I *think* I will finally have the one device solution I've been dreaming of since first running a Garmin eTrex and carrying a cell phone and camera.

    Will keep y'all updated. Post if you try out the ViewRanger app.
    #11
  12. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS

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    You might look at OsmAnd Navigation System on Google Play. It uses OSM Maps (Free) and there is a Free version which will do most of the things you want. The Fee version ($7) will get you the ability to load maps for the whole world for off-line use. It is quite fast in the map redraw compared to many others. Like all navigation applications, it takes some learning curve to figure out the workflow but once you do you'll discover some very interesting features.
    #12
  13. fiah

    fiah Adventurer

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    OsmAnd can do all this, and it's free! Or at least, you should be able to get a version that isn't limited like the free version in the Play store without actually paying (donating!) for the paid version, but I digress.

    I was looking for all this last weekend, offline navigation down a route that you prepare on a PC, with turn by turn audio routing, and last Sunday OsmAnd did the trick for me. Better yet, I was even able to just download a track that somebody else made by tracking his GPS, and just follow the same track with turn by turn voice instructions! Given how well it worked for that, it should work even better if you make a track with Google maps or Mapsource/Basecamp.

    Anyway, all I used was my Nexus 4, speakers in my helmet (directly connected to the audio jack, no bluetooth), the OsmAnd app (free version), Dropbox, the regional OSM offline maps (free!) and the app.

    Here is the step by tiny little step that I did:
    1. Download and start the app
    2. Go to "settings" -> "data management" -> "click here to download..."
    3. Download the regional maps you want
    4. Download the voice pack you want (English TTS)
    5. On you computer, put the .GPX track that you prepared in Dropbox
    6. In the Dropbox app on your phone, select the file and export it
    7. navigate to your SD card, into the "osmand" directory
    8. save the file into the "tracks" directory (you might have to make the directory with the button in the top-right)
    9. When OsmAnd finishes downloading, go to the Map, press on the button in the bottom left
    10. Choose "directions"
    11. Choose "GPX route"
    12. You should be able to select the GPX file that you transferred
    13. Choose "pass along entire track"

    Now, the app should be showing the map in your position, and a blue line where the route is that you transferred. It won't give you an instruction yet, unless you are already on the route! To start navigating, plug in your speakers (or connect with Bluetooth, I haven't tried that yet) and hop on your bike. Ride to the point where the route starts, this is where the app should start giving you instructions. You may have to select a destination first and choose "use current destination" when selecting the GPX file as well, somebody else mentioned that and I did so, but I'm not sure if it's required.

    Anyway, by doing exactly that, the OsmAnd app gave me turn by turn voice instructions for the next 60+ miles, with my phone in my jacket and the screen off. Because I used a GPS track that somebody else actually recorded (instead of generating a track from a route), I ran into a few spots where the guy recording it took a wrong turn and backtracked. The instructions were a bit unclear when that happened (literally: "turn left, then make a U-turn and turn left"), but after checking it out visually it made sense ("turn left, then don't be a doofus and just take the first on the right"').

    By keeping the screen off, I got very good battery life! All in all, with messing about and a good long break in the middle (hamburger and icecream, hmm) I had the app running continuously for over 3 hours, and my phone's battery had only drained about 35%. The Nexus 4 doesn't have a big battery or anything, so your Galaxy S3 would probably work just as well (and even better in airplane mode!). I don't know how well it copes with stopping and restarting the navigation, which is why I kept it running during my break. Also, like other track based navigation, once you get off the track it won't bring you back on! You have to find your own way back, all it said to me was "when possible, make a U-turn" which was exactly what I had to do. After I got to a point where I didn't want to follow the route anymore I just put my home address in and it got me back in good shape.

    TLDR:
    OsmAnd worked for me, had a good time and would recommend experimenting with!

    edit: So, I tried the equivalent of navigating across North America, using BaseCamp with the German OpenStreet Map. I clicked around a bit, converted the route to a track and exported that, but the OsmAnd app didn't swallow the tracks as I hoped. I created one track of ~1500km with 15k points, that one it only loaded up to 393km or 2.7k points. The other track I tried was also about 1500km with 27k points, the app got that track up to 1190km or ~21k points. I don't know what's causing the app to stop accepting the rest of the track, but it really did cut off the last end of those tracks. The first bit up until the distances mentioned looked exactly as planned in BaseCamp, although the map rendering did slow down quite a bit with such a long track. I also had to give it a few tries before it accepted the tracks at all, it would say the track was 0km long quite a few times. All in all it doesn't seem to be very reliable yet. But, the basic workflow of creating a route in BaseCamp and exporting it to the OsmAnd app is pretty painless, once I managed to wrangle BaseCamp into submission (you don't need Dropbox of course but it's pretty convenient). The OSM map material isn't great yet; BaseCamp didn't want to navigate across some sections, but all in all I'd say it's pretty awesome for a bunch of free software and data!

    edit 2: As an additional data point, the track that I navigated succesfully last Sunday was about 95km with roughly 1500 points. I think I'll go use up a tank's worth of gas on a longer trip this weekend, depending on the weather, using another track laid down by a fellow rider.
    #13
  14. Beer_me

    Beer_me JY

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    Nice write up fiah! I hope to get a chance to give it a whirl soon.

    I typo'd this on my fone yo'
    #14
  15. Chisenhallw

    Chisenhallw Avowed Pussbag

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    Woah!
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  16. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    I've been using OSMAnd+ for a long time now. They keep adding features, and it gets better and better.
    I use CoPilot also, and I must say that CoPilot has a better routing engine, if you use routing. I normally just display moving maps and pick my own roads. OSMAnd is great for that because you can put in a destination, and it simply puts an arrow on the map pointing to the destination which may be way off of the screen. Just pick any road and follow the arrow to your destination.
    OSMAnd also has a couple of map rendering options that make the maps much more visible in direct sunlight compared to something like Google maps.
    #16
  17. fiah

    fiah Adventurer

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    yeah sorry for the wall of text, I was rambling for a bit :p
    #17
  18. Chisenhallw

    Chisenhallw Avowed Pussbag

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    No way, that was great. You may have just sold me an Android device. :lol3
    #18
  19. fiah

    fiah Adventurer

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    Well before you buy one, keep in mind that I have absolutely 0 experience with dedicated motorcycle GPS units, or any Garmins at all really! Also, the map rendering is slower than raster based maps like the Google Maps .. maps, so if you're looking for a budget phone or something like that, you could be in for a disappointment if you like looking at maps.

    edit: alright, to humor you (but mostly myself) I tried this on my old Android phone, a Huawei Ascend G300, which was a budget phone (€160 think?) I bought a year ago, 1gHz single core CPU, 512MB RAM. Comparable to the Galaxy S I'd say, and much slower than the Galaxy S2. Anyway, I tried OsmAnd on the Huawei and to my surprise it works plenty well! Scrolling and zooming the map is a bit slower than on my Nexus 4, but the rendering of the map after scrolling to a bit that hasn't loaded yet was really not that much slower. I'm guessing that this is mostly bottle-necked by the flash storage (reading the map into RAM), rather than CPU or GPU speed. It was very usable, and my girlfriend commented that she wished she had this app yesterday when she was looking for directions but couldn't get any because she couldn't get any HSDPA reception.
    #19
  20. btao

    btao RIP Lilolita

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    Great post Fiah...

    I too had a moment of glory when I recently tried OsmAnd. It actually does everything I wanted! I was really interested in the Earl Android backcountry tablet, but haven't had any luck with the other apps people were recommending. As soon as I created a quick GPX route via online creator with a few clicks, emailed it to myself, saved it in the folder as mentioned, checked the "pass along the entire track" and Eureka! Ordered it on the spot. Sold.

    I think you covered most, and I've posted a few more tips and tricks in the Earl thread and in the other ditching garmin for android thread.

    You can record GPX tracks, get turn by turn, all offline maps, routing via YOUR roads or way points without optimization. Seriously, what optimization would ever put you on all dirt roads? I requested that as an option for routing yesterday like avoid highways. (avoid pavement!) :)

    It's very powerful, and if you play with the settings a little for the fuzzy logic of following the route during navigation, you can probably have avoided those quick wrong turn detours if you set up your location buffer/variance/somethingorother to be slightly larger. You may lose some precision though...
    #20