For ages I’ve been searching for something on my iPhone to allow me to view Ordnance Survey maps on it whilst I’m out Geocaching. The iOSMap app came out and this was absolutely useless as it requires a wifi internet connection to view the maps and adverts that come along with them. Then there was the official “Memory Map” app however this is £20 and doesn’t view old version of their qct files for each OS Map region, meaning having to buy every new version of the OS maps. I know it’s possible to get OS maps for your GPSr, however the ones that come with the Oregons (for example) are only 50k (less detailed) and you can only buy small parts of the country in 25k.
Then along came a Samsung Galaxy S Android phone and I found an app that answered our prayers “MMTracker“. There is a free version and a paid version of this, and the paid version is just under £5. Bargain. So what does this neat bit of software do?
Well, basically .qct files are files that hold an entire OS map for a particular region. For every paper-based Explorer (25k) OS map there is a qct file equivalent. MMTracker allows you to view these qct files on your phone AND adds a little crosshair, so via the GPS connection in your device you can see yourself moving on these OS maps. Pretty neat! That’s all for free. The paid version allows you to upload and create waypoints (Geocache locations) onto your device so you can navigate to them. You also have a load more features including tracks, and routes. I thought I’d give the app a go last weekend whilst we were out Geocaching. It definitely helped in quite a few spots where we weren’t sure where we were, or in particular when we wanted to find an alternative route back to the car instead of walking back across a horrible ploughed field.
Below is a pic of the app in action. In the top left hand corner your speed is displayed. Ours is at 0kph as we had to stop for the photo to be taken, however as you move you see the little red crosshair move with you.
So basically, you dump all of your qct files on your memory card/phone memory and then browse to the map of the region that you are in. If you also upload waypoints to the map then you’ll see these on the map as well.
If you hold your finger down on a waypoint you have the ability to change its name, or colour for example. You can also choose for the name of the waypoint to hover next to it. An arrow appears in the top left hand corner to direct you from your current position to the waypoint you have selected to navigate to. Where this isn’t anything like as good as what you’ll get from a GPSr, it’s a helpful guide and I’d suggest that this is an app that is used along with your GPSr to give you better guidance.
By holding your finger down on an empty location on the map you can choose to create a new waypoint at that spot, or choose to create a waypoint at your current location (Create Waypoint at GPS)
The app reads .gpx files as waypoints, however I think it would struggle with our Geocaching .GPX files as they have so much more information in them. If you have the Memory Map software though, you can import Geocaches into memory map, and then export a .GPX file and read this in the MMTracker app.
Once you’ve done this you get a list of the waypoints that you have uploaded and you can choose to zoom straight to them from the list.
Tweaking some settings
The paid app will record your track as you move around the paths and you can turn this on or off depending on if you want this data recorded. You can also fiddle with the track colours and widths to customise how they look on your phone. This data can be exported and viewed in Memory Map. You can also customise the units (miles, km, etc.) that the app displays and tweak how the interface looks.
The thing I love about this app is that the developer is very responsive to support requests. I asked about the best format to import waypoints in and the response I got was next day. He’s also very open to feedback, and suggestions on how to make the app better. As a result the app is regularly updated and improved. There is a thread at the xda developers forum here where you can discuss the app with him and other users. There is a full list of features here at the app webpage including information on the supported hand helds and a basic guide on using the app.
So in conclusion
Does anyone want to swap my iPhone 4 for their Android? 😉 I know what I’m going to be doing on my next upgrade!!!! If anyone has an Android and is looking to give this a go, but needs a bit of guidance drop me an email through the Geocaching site and I’ll be happy to help! 🙂