The search for Android GPS software continues - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-09-2015, 01:20 AM Thread Starter
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The search for Android GPS software continues

I've been trying different GPS software on my phone lately as Google maps, although excellent and free, requires an over the air data connection. As a result it can also incur roaming charges, requires an expensive data plan, and is not available in remote areas. These programs all download maps once (or until you update them) using your WIFI and store them on the phone. As a result they like lots of memory to store the map data, but don't require a connection to the Internet to work. For what it's worth, here's my findings so far, your mileage may vary.....

I'm using a LG G3 with 32Gb of memory and no memory card. Most of these apps will allow you to move map data to a SD memory card, if your phone takes one, so you do not hog the app. memory on the phone.

Revised: December 8th
Here
This software was originally developed by Nokia and has a very polished look and simple to use intuitive menu system. It also has decent maps. It does not have a lot of fancy features, just basic navigation functionality and voice guidance. There is not a lot to tweak with this app. It does not always take you the quickest route but it will get you there. The included maps are decent and include detailed address information. Works but not many features...

Mapfactor
I purchased the extra cost Tom Tom maps for this which have detailed address info. For instance it will take you to the exact address rather than a central location to a broad range of street numbers as the open maps while. The menus are far from intuitive and it is a bit quirky. For instance the street text is not actually set under street text size but in map look in the menu system. It works and is free with open street maps and $20 per year for Tom Tom maps. My big complaint is in 3D navigation mode the street names are displayed as tiny labels and hard to read and the on screen buttons are a bit crude. There are far more parameters to adjust/tweak than Next. Not as refined a display as say Garmin or Next....

OSM (Open Street Maps application)
This is a highly sophisticated application that is being developed in the public domain like Firefox. It works well with open street maps data, but if your not computer savvy look elsewhere as it can be tough to navigate the menu system for Luddite. It has a very polished look and is highly configurable but the menu system needs some refinement for more intuitive navigation of menu choices. Open street maps data, also used by most other free GPS software, is edited online by the public. Map updates are made asynchronously through out the day out the day as the public updates the maps, so map users will need to take the initiative to update the maps once in a while, say every month or two, to stay current. There is no say quarterly release of map data as with Garmin and Tom Tom maps, which you will be prompted to download. There is no way to pass addresses from your contact list to it. Promising but needs more development...

If you want GPS software on the same caliber as something you would find on a dedicated GPS unit from Garmin or Tom Tom expect to have to pay for a significant amount for say Garmin or Tom Tom software, or use Google Maps or Waze which requires a data connection and a hefty charge for data and accept limited availability in more remote areas. On the other hand for occasional use and suffering a few quirks, these other products will work just fine.

Last edited by twowheels; 12-14-2015 at 10:31 PM.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-09-2015, 05:44 AM
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Here has the same maps as Garmin. Here=exNavteq=exNokia=exMicrosoft

Try to "find" iGO/Primo for Android with Here or Teleatlas maps (TomTom), you can change the provider anytime in app.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-09-2015, 06:15 AM
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If you're looking for a program to create your own custom routes that can be put into a gps, or be accessible on your android phone, tablet, etc. I've been really happy with myrouteapp.com
It's from the folks at Tyre.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-09-2015, 09:11 PM
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waze! its free, amazing and gives real time traffic and tells you where police are. crowd based and accurate always, at least for me. its available on the play store.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-09-2015, 10:03 PM
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I've been using Mapfactor Navigator for a few years, and it works fine for a free app. I used it to navigate around Pennsylvania and Belgium without any issues.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-10-2015, 05:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twowheels View Post
I've been trying different GPS software on my phone lately. Here's my review so far. Hope others will share their experiences and add to this thread.

Mapfactor
I have not fully tested this enough to know how reliable it is. It got 4.4 stars out of five on Google Play which seems kinda suspect given my experience. It's main negative is the poor quality of the free maps it comes with. They lack detail, most address number info is missing and the street name sound files sometimes are wrong. The fonts on the maps do not resize correctly for a 5 inch screen and so things like street names are often unreadable. Overall it has a bit of an unfinished feel to it kinda like alpha release software.
I used it in St Thomas USVI... it worked perfectly! even the dirt "roads" were detected. Nothing fancy, but no issues. Worked better than the paid app (don't remember the name) which was a waste of $5.

Use it!!!
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-10-2015, 09:03 PM
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Yes, got Mapfactor Navigator 15 with the extra Tom Tom maps. For the price of only around $22 bugs is good but bit clunky.
It took me several route options, to receive a almost twisty - nice main roads route.
Wish it had already a feature for elevation, twisted, and scenic routes.

Still looking, don't want to downs $500 bugs on Tom Tom 4....uuuuaahgg

Ideas, please post

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twowheels View Post
...

Google Maps
Works great, is accurate and has great maps. The only issue, and it's a major one, is it requires a data connection to the Internet to work, so can be very expensive to use depending on your data plan and will not work in remote areas where you will probably need it. Using it while roaming will be prohibitively expensive too. Summary: Fail (because of need for internet connection)...
Read one or two days ago that google was implementing data free gps

Should take a look about that news here

LOP
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-13-2015, 05:23 PM
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Looks promising. Given the local storage requirements, I hope new phones still have SD card slots.

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 11:30 PM
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you can preload google maps for offline use, but i have forgotten the methods.

not that i need it anyway since i have a hardly used garmin zumo 220 and we had a group of active community mappers in my country.

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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-08-2015, 03:54 PM Thread Starter
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updated original post December 8th to add OSM

Note while you can preload a single 50x50 area of google map data, a data connection is still needed for the app to run.

Last edited by twowheels; 12-08-2015 at 04:24 PM.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-08-2015, 04:04 PM
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Looks promising. Given the local storage requirements, I hope new phones still have SD card slots.
any and all phones are seeming to switch from this to 'cloud' service. unfortunately.. so don't get your hopes up

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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-08-2015, 09:29 PM
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Ohhhh, I've been trying to find the perfect solution for months. And still haven't found it.

I use Google maps for the city and waze for the longer trips. In case I go to remote areas without mobile data coverage, I have Navmii in my phone with maps of 4-5 states. The interface is not very good, though...

Still not enough. I want something that includes an option like "winding roads". I think TOMTOM has it? Anyone using it?
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-08-2015, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
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Ohhhh, I've been trying to find the perfect solution for months. And still haven't found it.

I use Google maps for the city and waze for the longer trips. In case I go to remote areas without mobile data coverage, I have Navmii in my phone with maps of 4-5 states. The interface is not very good, though...

Still not enough. I want something that includes an option like "winding roads". I think TOMTOM has it? Anyone using it?
Most GPS software will allow you to set route preferences like no highways, no toll roads, no ferrys, etc. If you disallow divided highways you'll get B roads which are way more fun to ride.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-08-2015, 11:12 PM
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I am using LG G2 smartphone with Garmin Streetpilot for Android. Nope, can't purchase this on Playstore and is not available for Android officially. Yes, someone made it to work with Android OS. Works on Sony Xperia ZL too. Don't work on Nexus 7 2012 Tegra 3 processor. Maps are detailed and updated frequently in my country....free maps made by the mapping community.

Other's that I tried:
Waze tends to hang on the phone when placed in the waterproof case, too hot maybe. I still use Waze for traffic information but not for navigation. OSM, still can't get use to the GUI, and is 2D model only. Maps are not really detailed for my country. I did put in some contribution to Open Maps and literally drew every street for a few towns and a city. Tried Sygic, but maps are not updated and I could not get used to the GUI but love the 3D terrain.

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post #16 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-12-2015, 08:03 PM
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any and all phones are seeming to switch from this to 'cloud' service. unfortunately.. so don't get your hopes up
Ugh. We are still paying through the nose for data plans, so anything that requires a constant data connection is useless, as far as I'm concerned. I'll keep my Galaxy S4 as long as apps run on it.

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post #17 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 07:50 PM
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To be honest I tried most of those available on iOS last year and gave up because of either the poor quality of data, the poor intuitive user interface, the difficulty of using on the go and the lack of being able to download the maps (I live in an area of poor 3G connectivity). In the end nothing provided significant advantages over Google Maps even if that also has a frustrating UI.

The other problem is that the GPS chip in a mobile phone has very poor resolution and requires triangulation with cell towers to provide reasonable location. I found this out with an accident where the Phone GPS (extracted from a photo) placed me 200 meters away in the middle of the Mekong.

I have used 2 Garmin devices and attempted to download the OSM maps but the reformatting was too difficult (I could not get one of the dlls to work) and I gave up. I have purchased local maps for the Garmins but the subscription fees were too high. There are only two "general" map makers for dedicated GPS (one used by Garmin and the other owned by TomTom).

I have now changed my approach and use Google Maps to research my route carefully (Google Maps download to device is not yet available in my area) before my ride. I also use a De Lorme InReach Explorer for safety as I travel on my own. It has a map function which will get me out of lost situations but I have yet to try that for mapping and the screen is tiny.

Now that BMW/VW Group/Mercedes have purchased the Nokia Maps (Here) division then that package should improve dramatically but will be unlikely to be free if it does.

For the moment I rely on Google Maps which in 95% of instances is fine. I also like street view in Google Maps and I am constantly amazed at the availability of Street View locations (even to some places which are remote and have no cell phone coverage) but Street View is only available for locations that a car can travel to.

Now that I have swapped the Super Sherpa for the Versys I seldom go on the tracks I used to go on (it can handle reasonably rough roads but is not a true adventure bike) so I am seldom out of Cell phone range and can always backtrack to find a reasonable signal.

In summary none work perfectly, the dedicated GPS units are more user friendly. Just try a couple of apps (Google Maps & Here would be my first preference), accept their limitations and enjoy riding rather that fiddling with your phone

PS. Google Maps is more closely tied with Android so Android gets functionality first and sometimes the functionality on Android Versions of Google Maps is not available on iOS.
PPS. Next phone I am going to try Android - it has been 3 years since I bought a device but working with friends Android phones I still find it messy.
PPS. The screen size really makes a difference. I would love to find a dust proof, vibration proof, waterproof case and mount for my iPad Mini. I would not recommend anything less than 5" - Gloves just make it more difficult.
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post #18 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-18-2016, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thought I would update this thread as a few things have changed.

Google Maps now allows you to cache a 50 x 50 mile area and will function fine without a wireless data connection as long as you drive in the cached area. Note you need to manually delete the area and re cache it to update the map.

I'm learning to really like the HERE GPS app, the more I use it, and have given up on other GPS programs except Google Maps. Google maps is usually slightly more up to date wrt one way streets, precise address number location, and cul-de-sacs, etc. but has that limitation of the 50x50 mile map cache and the occasional inaccuracies of HERE are not frequent or major. Really like the precisely timed voice commands of HERE.

Got a RAM Mount X mount and use it on the car (with windshield suction mounted ball) and the bike (with GPS mount plate with a ball adapter screwed on). It holds the phone very securely and the phone easily snaps in and out in a second. It also allows using the phone as a video camera while riding or driving. RAM Mount stuff is very high quality.

In conjunction with this I use a cheap eBay purchased USB power port attached to my handle bars. It works better than an adapter inserted in a 12v plug as it does not come loose or interfere with turning the bars (some dash mounted outlets do this).

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post #19 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-21-2016, 06:13 PM
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I'm a couple days out from a overly off-track ride from Hershey, PA to Philly. Whats normally an eight mile trip on the toll road, I've managed to make into a 300 mile trip on various smaller high ways. A paper map for my route and Navmii GPS iOS app for the specifics.

I feel like I've spent many hours searching out a good "OFF-LINE" gps app, or, at least, a low data app that will give me turn by turn. What I purely want is an off line app that lets me create my own route but I'm stumped. So Navmii works well for the most part but doesn't allow much personalization.

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