Access offline maps while abroad with for Android

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This is the second part of a little travel apps series that concentrates on applications that provide offline functionality. The first part was about XE Currency, a free offline currency converter for Android. Check it out.

Android users have several options when it comes to offline maps, and two of the better ones are and Here Maps.

My initial idea was to compare both apps but since Here Maps does not offer offline mapping data for Japan, I decided to concentrate on exclusively instead., just like Here Maps and others, provides map downloads in its interface. A tap on the download maps option in the menu opens a page listing all continents, and another tap the countries of that continent.

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The download size for each map is displayed unless the data is further divided into states. This is for instance the case for Germany, France or the United States of America.

Map size ranges from less than ten Megabyte to hundreds of Megabytes. The Tokyo and Kanto map for instance has a size of 314 Megabytes alone while Malta’s a size of only three Megabyte.


Once you have downloaded a map you can start using it offline. Use the built-in search to find a place of interest, tap on it for an option to bookmark it for fast future access, or use the route option to receive map directions to specific locations.

The latter option is unfortunately only available if GPS navigation is enabled. It would be useful if you could calculate routes in advance using the feature, and to save them, so that you could open them at any point in the future again.

Other features that you won’t find supported are transit information among others. While that may not be necessary all the time, basic information about transit routes would be a welcome addition as well.

Those points may keep some users from giving the application a try. I use it mostly for the digital map it provides to help me locate buildings and places quickly which is not always possible with paper maps.

The program supports KML and KMZ files, and enables you to import and export data at any time.

The maps that I looked at have lots of detail but some information are missing. I was not able to find my hotel in Japan on the Tokyo map for instance while Google Maps displayed it just fine. The data is taken from OpenStreetMap.

Now You: Which application do you use for mapping purposes?


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About Martin Brinkmann

Martin Brinkmann is a journalist from Germany who founded Ghacks Technology News Back in 2005. He is passionate about all things tech and knows the Internet and computers like the back of his hand. You can follow Martin on Facebook, Twitter or Google+

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