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This Weeks Walks


OS Maps for smartphones, tablets and walker's handheld devices

If you have one of these, then you can have the OS map, overlayed with GPS routes from this or other websites, with a 'you are here' marker, which, especially in lowland (where navigation is harder), is amazingly brilliant.

Problems are
  • Digital OS mapping, while much cheaper than it was, is still very expensive
  • Screens are small so only useful for micro navigation (no big picture) - tablets win here.
  • Smartphone/Tablet batteries are getting better, with power saving, they can now last a day with GPS enabled
  • Dedicated Walkers Satnav batteries lasts all day, but hardware is an additional £200 or so, and you are then locked in to that hardware provider, and its an extra device to carry around.
  • The digital OS maps for all these are 'closed', i.e. if you buy the mapping for one application, it will not work with any of the others, you'd have to re-purchase the expensive maps.
Prices for OS 1:25K mapping for GB Mainland:
  • Anquet (PC and smartphone app) : £100 (1:50K) £280 (1:25K)
  • MemoryMap (PC and smartphone app) : £300 (1:25K)
  • Ordnance Survey MapFinder (smartphone app only) : mixed reviews (product not yet mature?), map prices not updated yet
  • Satmap Active 12 (walker's satnav + GB mapping) approx £400 (mapping only if you already have the satnav: £230)
If you have a smartphone, consider:
  • Anquet. Android/iPhone app. Maps 20% off with code SWC20. At around £100 for UK wide OS 1:50K mapping. The OS 1:25K mapping is a nice to have if you can afford it. Its handy having a camera/phone/satnav all in one. Only very serious walkers need consider a dedicated device, e.g. Satmap 12.
  • Free! Orux (app) + OpenStreetMap.. Android only. Not as good as OS mapping, not as detailed, and not every path is shown, but free!


PeteB said...

I was talking to a techie in PC World in Stratford Westfield earlier to-day about the Google Nexus 7 a top-rated 7" tablet with GPS. He knew a lot about mapping and I showed him my OMN Android OS mapping app on my Samsung Galaxy 2 phone and he showed me a gizmo (I've forgotten the name of it!) which you can carry with you and link to your phone or tablet to increase their GPS enabled battery life capability to around 10/11 hours. There are extra monthly costs though.

I'm going to investigate this further. I'm lucky I had no credit card with me or might be considerably poorer by now!

The Anquet OMN OS app has undergone some major improvements lately and is now a very good product - it had a fair few teething problems since its launch a couple of years ago.

Andrew said...

Example of 'Open Street Map' mapping

PeteB said...

Up-date on OMN Android mapping. I have recently purchased a Asus Nexus 7" tablet with GPS and downloaded the OMN Android app and synced this to the OMN UK OS maps on my PC. It is easy to download and save the GPX route files on the SWC website and import these files to the OS maps and then sync them to the Nexus.

I have used the Nexus on two walks including yesterday's Wendens Ambo Circular in Essex. The tablet was excellent - GPS accurately mapping where you are on the route and displaying the OS map and route clearly in the bright sunshine. Battery life was excellent; from a full charge at the outset only 23% of the battery was discharged by the end of the walk. You could probably improve on this if you switched to aeroplane mode on the tablet.

The great benefit I found is that you look far less at the directions than when you are using written instructions or looking at a paper map so you can enjoy the surroundings and the company far more . I have ordered a waterproof holder from Amazon for the Nexus so I can wear it round my neck.

OMN is the costly option -you will need to buy the OS maps but these have come down dramatically in price recently and the Android App for your tablet or smartphone is £7. (OS maps for UK are £100 for the Landranger series but £280 for the Explorer.

There are free mapping options out there so its best to research the alternatives before making a choice but I am very pleased with OMN.

Ian T said...

How lomg before we can sell our combined walking power to the National Grid?

PeteB said...

Further techie up-date on Android OMN OS maps: have recently synced all my OS 25k maps to my new Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone and it works really well, although at 7.8GB it does take up a lot of space on the phone. Make sure you have an external sd card to put your maps on - you can insert one up to 128GB in the S5. (You can sync your OMN maps on up to 5 Android devices.)

Battery life on the S5 is excellent and in "flight mode" from a full charge I have found you only use around 30% of the battery for a walk of around 12 miles. (Remember to turn your GPS off when you have your pub lunch.)On a long walk I am likely to expire before the battery does so there should be no problems there.

The S5 is also waterproof and dust proof but I always have a screen protector on it and put it in a protective case. With the S5 you can increase the screen sensitivity so in bad weather you can put it in a protective map holder and wear it round your neck.

I've use the S5 on a number of walks now and it has proved itself an excellent GPS device and it syncs easily with SWC downloaded GPX files. A minor point: I have found that the GPS takes about 5 to 10 metres to respond to a change in direction; no problem on the easy paths of SE England but on a narrow rocky trail in fog in the Scottish highlands.......?

Anonymous said...

the free Oruxmaps app and map of the UK from Openandomaps. Although the maps are not as detailed as OS maps, I find this app and maps are fine for these walks:

MoonBrain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MoonBrain said...

I recommend the free app MAPS.ME ( It has less functionality than OruxMaps and, as a result, is easier to use. What I like is that I can download the GPS/KML file directly into the app. It also uses the OpenAndroidMaps, which I found worked well for the walks.
It is available for Android, iPhone, Blackberry, and a few others.

PeteB said...

This looks a nice app and means I can delete all those city map apps I downloaded for short breaks abroad. Now how do I get those SWC gpx files on it??

PeteB said...

Post up-date: just experimented with downloading the kmz file for Moreton in Marsh circular walk and loading it into the app on my smartphone and it works!!! if you search on-line provide a very helpful user guide. Looks good on screen - only slight problem is the route line is green which would make it a bit difficult to spot in bright sunlight. Recommended but for me not an Anquet OS killer. Still should be added to the list and definitely looks an alternative to Orux. Many thanks Moonbrain

PeteB said...

the Anquet OMN app for Android smartphones and tablets and Apple Iphones and Ipads are now free. The OS maps still cost though but are slowly coming down in price.

PeteB said...

For all members of the SWC GPS mapping app smartphone community I have just bought an "Aquapac 358 Waterproof iPhone 6+ case - IPX8". Perfect for other large smartphones as well. Will protect your phone in all weather ( actually works up to 10m underwater) and your touchscreen will work perfectly. Has an adjustable lanyard so wear it round your neck. Treat yourself this Xmas - under £25 on Amazon or get it from Cotswolds outdoor shop in Covent Garden. Price reductions for Ramblers members.

Graham C. said...

I use I phone 6. View Ranger are offering 20% off whole country maps which means £200 for the 1:25000.They also say somewhere, though I cannot find where, that you can use it on up to 4 devices. Sounds a good deal. Would like advice though. Do I have to carry all country on my Iphone (I might not have enough memory)? Can I keep my copy in the cloud somewhere or somehow and just down load bits before I leave home? Any other advice please?

PeteB said...

Graham C: re the points you make. I use Anquet OS maps which are "in the cloud" via my laptop but which I sync to my Samsung Galaxy S5 through an OMN app which is available on Apple and Android. However you have to download the maps and store them on your device. I have the whole of the UK OS 1:25000 maps on my Samsung: 8GB of data so you need a fair bit of memory. It also takes 2-3 hours to download even with a good wi-fi connection. Anquet often have a sale on so its worth checking out their web site for the latest prices. You can also download specific OS areas.
A very good free alternative mapping app is MAPS.ME. You can download any country in the world! I have got the UK on my phone but you can only use kmz files for your routes. It works well though and you are not tied to a computer: you can download routes directly to your phone.

PeteG said...

I use ViewRanger and was using the free OpenCycle maps, for which I downloaded just the bits I need for a walk. I've recently started using OS maps and just get the relevant tiles for a walk using the credits option, which seems economical. You get 1000 credits for £15 and a typical SWC walk uses 60-80. They get shared between devices.

PeteG said...

I've just checked my app, as I recently bought the National Parks on special offer. They come as 3 downloads and are sitting in my account, but waiting to be downloaded, so you don't need to have the whole of the UK on your phone.
"You can delete the maps at any time (as long as you have a master copy somewhere else). Maps can be installed on more than one memory card."

Anonymous said...

Buy memory map or something other than OS. The software is poor and does not download

MoonBrain said...

OsmAnd is an app similar to Maps.Me.
It looks good but I have not tried it yet. If you do use it, please give some feedback.

PeteB said...

Just an up-date on Anquet maps and their OMN software. Anquet have moved to a subscription service and their !:25,000 OS maps can be had for around £15 per year. If you opt for their premium service where the maps are up-dated you can get OS 1 to 25K maps in HD for the UK for around £25 per year. This requires a mobile with a lot of memory as the HD UK maps are 28gb but most modern high spec mobiles come with an internal memory of 64gb. One word of warning I tried to get the HD maps on an older Samsung phone (S5) by purchasing a 64gb external SD card on which to store the maps but found that the response rate of the gps marker was very poor, sometimes taking up to 10 minutes to record your movement. With modern phones which have only internal memory there is no issue with gps response.
One final benefit of the new(ish) service is that you are no longer tethered to a pc ; you can download SWC routes straight to your phone. If you want to devise your own routes then I find it is best to install the OMN software on your pc.

Anonymous said...

PeteB ANQUET are not yet that mature imho, driven me mad sometimes..just my experience and best to check Omn is updated & everything working via your home Wi-Fi before leaving to go on a walk!

Andrew said...

There's a good value club (group) membership of OS Maps (website + app). But anecdotally, the app isn't mature yet either.
Currently, I'd recommend
- (free, android + iphone, but no map contours),
- or if you're techie, Oruxmaps (free or cheap, android only, can move to SD card)
both with OpenStreetMap mapping.

Anonymous said...

thank you Andrew

Mike A said...

I'm sure you guys are all aware of GPXsee if you just want to take a peek at a route on your home PC/Mac/Linux box without too much clutter before walking. The link to this is in this comment just in case ...

Sandy said...

I recently changed my phone and found I couldn't reinstall my (old) Anquet maps. The reason is that since introduction of the subscription, they will not let people download maps if they bought them more than 2 years ago.
I agree Anquet was not perfect but it is quite annoying to be asked to pay again to use the maps I already own. So 2 questions:
Am I right in thinking Anquet is the only provider other than the OS that provides maps with proper contours? They are essential for the type of walking I do.
Also can someone say in plain non-tech English what you man by the OS app not being "mature." Do you mean bits don't work and if so, which?
I've got an iphone and I will no doubt be experimenting with different apps so will post more comments if I find out anything useful.

Anonymous said...

may not have completely understood your predicament? but some people say ViewRanger App is very good on phones.. Anquet has driven me mad in the past..but haven't used it lately.

anon said...

as for 'mature' status I found that if you forgot to power up the app via wireless broadband at home first and update it then you were basically screwed for the whole day as the damn thing would not work ...

I believe but not sure that PeteB has said this is no longer the case with Anquet..

Still find some things not sure you will realise when you are using it..

Plus damn thing eats up batter power like nobody's business but maybe that's the case with all those gpx apps?

Sandy said...

Thanks both. I agree the requirement to access broadband doesn't sound ideal. But yes, when I used Anquet it are up the battery too.
I've had Viewranger recommended from elsewhere so I will follow that up. S