GPS alternatives, you know that phone in your pocket

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by uphoto, Dec 8, 2015.

  1. uphoto

    uphoto Adventurer

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    I searched but couldn't find a main resource on how people are using their iPhones/Android phones for a GPS alternative for adventure riding. I think a sticky on this topic would be very helpful since this is a technology that is going to advance or evolve a lot quicker than the stand alone units.

    With tank bags that have phone/gps locations or bar mounts for phones are making it much easier to use that phone that you always have on you anyways. The issue is keeping up with the newest apps or topographical resources to replace a stand alone unit.

    Is there anything on here already? If not let's do this!

    I downloaded Galileo today ($3.99) and I'm going to play with this for while first.
    #1
  2. scootertrog

    scootertrog Jedi Fart Master

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    This forum sub-section is packed with such threads.

    Anyhow - Here is what I've found so far that works best (for me) as far as following a pre-planned route for "On-Road" navigation. I don't want the phone/GPS to tell me where to go - I want to create a specific route on my computer and transfer that to the iPhone. The below method is working "bullet-proof" in this regard.

    http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/getting-a-route-image-into-galileo-pro.1091772/
    #2
  3. uphoto

    uphoto Adventurer

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    Great job of pointing out the difference in just relying on google maps or apple maps apps and their pre-planned routes and making your own way. Great info
    #3
  4. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    There is a ton of info here on using smartphones and tablets.
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  5. uphoto

    uphoto Adventurer

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    Okay well I guess the idea of a sticky and condensed area is lost on a few of you guys..........

    I found lots of info on here but it's kind of a mess, having a topic in one section helps. Thanks for the post about the obvious.
    #5
  6. DaMonk45

    DaMonk45 I B Da Monk

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    There a couple of big threads on this one for apple and 1 for droid's. Much of the software also has its own thread, as does the route building programs. I’m not sure how many stickys you want?
    #6
  7. miadolfan13

    miadolfan13 Usually confused

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    Just one that he started. The inner narcissist in all of us sometimes gets the better of us! :lol3
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  8. EastRoad

    EastRoad Road Viking Supporter

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    http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/toughest-smart-phone-for-a-gps.1108623/
    Whilst the thread deviates a few times - it essentially contains a lot of good intel on the subject.

    OSMAnd+ is a good app to look at too...

    Essentially from my point of view:

    Smartphone Advantages over conventional stand-alone GPS
    + Choice of apps, sometimes you can use several apps to fully fit your need
    + Free Software & Maps (with very regular updates)
    + Independent of a single manufacturer for updates / new features
    + Easy to Backup
    + highly customisable
    + User Interface often more "friendly" and "simple" than stand alone units
    + high res, large displays
    + Multi-purpose use (1-device does it all)
    + Connectivity (WiFi, 3G/4G, LTE, etc).

    Disadvantages:
    - Battery Life (switching off the "phone part" (ie. Flight Mode) helps though)
    - Not so tough (there's a few phones out there that are truly tough - but most aren't)
    - Needs additional cases (IP67/68 Rating) or other type of enclouser
    - Needs additional Bike mount
    - Needs 5V Converter (ok, many already have one on their bike)
    - Waterproof Charging is a bit of an issue (at least for me)
    - not glove friendly (touch screen) (again, a bit of a moot point with all the glove & finger-tip addon options... but still)
    - Some phones have bad sunlight readability
    - Depending on a SINGLE device (no redundancy in case of emergency) - maybe consider carrying a cheap burner phone for that
    - Topographical maps on Smartphones - at least the free options - are often spotty / low detail (but this depends on region, and then there's often good options (SW))
    #8
  9. uphoto

    uphoto Adventurer

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    It was just a suggestion. Being new to this community but being part of forums for a few decades I just know it's easier for people to find things when there is one major topic that has been condensed into one section to find all the info. Do you know what a sticky is? Obviously the guy below doesn't either so.....

    Let's explain what a sticky is! You see the topics at the top of this page? GPS PRICING DEAL FEST, FREE ONLINE ROUTE BUILDING PROGRAMS etc.....they have a pin showing on the right side of the thread showing what is known in forums as a STICKY or it's pinned or stuck to the top of the forum page listing so people can see it easier and access the ever changing info in one spot.

    Now please show me where there is a sticky on this topic already and I'll apologize for being a n00b and wasting time but all I did was offer a suggestion to help others by keeping this topic in one area or gathering all the topics into one area. Pretty sure it's safe to say that standalone GPS units will be going extinct in the next 3-5 years easily.
    #9
  10. BryceB

    BryceB It's OK, we know the Mayor!

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    I have OSMAnd+, but find it lacking when I just need a route to an address or POI. It never seems to have house/building numbers for anything I look for, but I guess that's a function of the Open Street Maps not having that info. It does work good for GPX Tracks though... that's where it excels for me.

    For around town and easy POI and Address routing, I end up using CoPilot. It's more like your normal "car" type GPS (like a Nuvi). not sure what maps they use.
    #10
  11. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    There is so much volume of info, and the speed at which is develops, would be like trying to count the molecules while drinking from a firehose. It's just not possible to put all that available info in one sticky.

    Use that app you got, find points to ask questions about, and you'll gain specific knowledge and insights into the next set of questions. :)
    #11
  12. EastRoad

    EastRoad Road Viking Supporter

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    If you need ROAD navigation... get a look at "HERE" (by Nokia) - it's a FREE offline road nav for iOS and Android.
    works very well, competes nicely to tomtom & co... has more maps to offer, is quite up to date and again it's free (including all the offline maps).
    I've been using this over the past few weeks and am quite fond of it.
    Full offline search too... (address, gas station. etc..)
    #12
  13. uphoto

    uphoto Adventurer

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    I've always been happy with a mixture of Google Maps and Waze for road navigation myself so most important to me is finding a reliable source for off road navigation. Being able to load gpx routes and offline tracking ability so I can find my way back. A great source for dirt roads and fire trails is what i'm after I guess.
    #13
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  14. DaMonk45

    DaMonk45 I B Da Monk

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    OSMAND+ is what you want
    #14
  15. uphoto

    uphoto Adventurer

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    I'll check it out, thank you!

    edit....

    damn it's gutted for iOS.
    #15
  16. vvarma

    vvarma n00b

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    Osmand+ GPS app is on sale (down 90% (at C$1.29) on Google Play if anyone was on the fence on buying the paid version
    http://tinyurl.com/d8s6l4u
    #16
  17. River-Runner

    River-Runner Been here awhile

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    OK Guys - Allow me to rant......

    I have spent some time on both Backcountry Navigator and Gaia GPS apps to explore their use as an alternative to buying a new larger screen GPS. I have a Garmin 64 series right now - I just don't like trying to figure out where I am on the small display and I have been putting off buying a Montana 680 by exploring if the android phone/tablet apps would work for me. I would love to have a 24K set of USGS maps compatible with Garmin. Garmin maps miss too much local POI info..........publish POI's to match your topo maps there Garmin! Campgrounds maybe?

    I've been using a Verizon Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet - 2014 version for my experimenting. Also tried the Samsung Galaxy S-4 phone - but focused on the tablet. This tablet is a couple of years old and there is newer, better, faster units available. I've purchased and downloaded both Backcountry Navigator and GaiaGPS android apps - the paid versions. Both of these apps allow you to download at home the maps for a specific area you plan to explore - then when wi-fi or cell coverage is unavailable - you can pull up the maps you need off of the external SD card. When these programs are connected to phone reception or Wi-Fi all is really good, even great! The programs download real time maps quickly and allow you to move the location and have the maps as displayed catch up quickly. I love the maps and feel both firms offer map options that are much easier to follow on my backcountry bike trips than Garmin maps - 100K or 24K. BUT - when the tablet needs to query saved maps from the SD card, it takes forever to bring up the files. It's a deal killer - just very, very slow and the apps tend to crash. Now maybe for a day trip, the amount of saved maps you would save to an SD card would be much smaller in size and thus might not be so slow, but I was using a set of downloaded maps for a week trip in the Blackrock area of northern Nevada / Oregon I'm planning and it just doesn't work for me. Maybe newer tablets with faster access to the SD card would be better - but I'm watching for a Garmin Montana 680 sale and will grab one for my bike and maybe one for my wife's bike too.

    These droid maps are great technology that will improve over time and could just nudge conventional GPS units out of the market - but not for me YET. If there are any problems driving the app in my den - I know it will let me down when I actually need it in the field. I very much wanted to find these apps working for me - I love the USGS maps or USFS maps available from Backcountry Navigator or GaiaGPS - just what I need when riding eastern OR - SW ID or northern Nevada - they give me the info I need where Garmin misses so much.

    Plus - you have to deal with the screen on your tablet or phone being very hard to see in bright sunlight - the tablet/phone screens are optimized for a different application I guess - but the tablet screen is just very difficult to see in direct sunlight. There may be a solution to this issue I didn't try.

    Please - somebody tell me I'm all wet and you have figured out how to make the droid apps work for you when in airplane mode drawing from the external SD card. Please!

    Garmin - If you are listening......expand your map offerings to give us inmates using your product for backcountry motorcycle touring a bigger selection of maps with the option of self-selecting layers of displayed info to "match our needs" and not display that which we don't need or want - the display has to show me quickly what I need and not display a bunch of stuff that hides what I need. You guys better start getting out in front of the wave that is coming at you! You are asking me to put out $500+ USD - this is a big purchase and you need to work harder for my dollars - Backcountry Navigator is $11.99 and runs on equipment I already own.

    RR
    #17
  18. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    1- i believe garmin sells both 100k and 24k mapsets. the usfs map sets can be used on garmin devices also, provided you have them in the format that garmin requires them to be displayed. POI's are nothing more than waypoints with a different name. check this out for some great WAYPOINTS that have lots of catagories:
    http://www.poi-factory.com/

    2- covered, i think :)
    3- ditto ? :)
    4- i think this is the clue as to what is wrong: the sdcard, and or the filesystem on that sdcard, has issues. pulling (or pushing) files (map tiles are files) to or from the sdcard should be very very fast, like 20Mb/sec fast. since map tiles are usually 5k-50k, this should never seem like a 'slow' event, and actually should never even be seen happening. the only time i think it should happen is when a map overlay is used, as in, a full size 5-10Mb picture (georeferenced picture) that takes a moment to fill in.
    5- i'm suspecting the sdcard more and more... apps should crash when something ODD happens, maybe once a month, but more than once in a session is not normal.
    6- i have a plethora of two and three year old devices around me. they only crash when there is an IO issue, or they are taxed to the point of having memory calls and system caches that can't keep up with demand. for instance: if you have spotify, youtube, google maps, chrome, facebook, AND some mapping app all trying to jockey for your attention, one or more of them is going to crash , especially on older devices with lower ram to work with. kill some background apps and try again ?
    7- there you go ! oops, that means basecamp. (i'm picking at you)
    8- the apps are fine, try a new sdcard
    9- a standalone should be able to import that type of map also. wether it's an overlay, an img file, or whatever, it should handle it fine once it's the right filetype.
    10- IPS displays are extremely good in sunlight. if your devices have a glossy finish and are not IPS, their overall performance in bright environments will be poorer. the few IPS displays i've used were similar to looking at a printed map, on paper, while in full sun.
    11- yes, it works in airplane mode, without any need for cellular towers. i'm still eyeing that sdcard as your culprit.

    12- this request is dead in the water. if you look at garmins sales successes, they are currently in air and water devices, as in airplane and boating. the fact that the 6xx series was updated with... nothing in the recent model bumps means avionics and boater stuff is where you'll see their focus over the next few years. that, plus the flop that was the extremely overpriced monterra, i don't think you'll see nearly as many people plunking $800 for a new device when that smartphone in their pocket does more, better. <-- this is an opinion, current sales trends seem to back it up.

    the largest numbers of crashes from ANY mapping application was when trying to run modern apps on android 2.3.x with only 512mb of ram. those crashes were commonplace, frequent, and unfortunately unfixable. since most of the devices i see now have android 4.x.x and >1Gb of ram, I see very few crashes unless the device's sdcard is corrupt, or a mislabeled 32Gb card that is actually only 4Gb (mislabeled knockoffs) with read/write errors causing the problems.

    try another sdcard. fresh filesystem, fresh files.
    #18
  19. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    The memory card thing is too odd. Sure sounds like you have a bad card or something. I use CoPilot, OSMand+ and Locus. I can pan to an area and zoom in or out, and the screen gets repainted in probably under 1 second. Those ARE all street maps though. Is there any chance you are confusing when maps are online, versus in memory? And you mention the app crashing. Sounds like something going on there in the app or memory. Maybe it is just those apps. I don't know anyone using those.

    As for the display brightness, yes, you need to get the right technology. An anti glare screen protector might help too. The Galaxy line uses AMOled. The S4 is 'middle of the road' bright. The new models are much brighter in sunlight. Or get an IPS LCD
    #19
  20. EmmEff

    EmmEff Long timer

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    Not all SD cards are created equal... the older (and smaller) cards are also the slowest. The off-brand cards are slowest.

    I agree with ohgood. Something else is at play here. It's not the tablet or phone.
    #20