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MultiMap: Online And Basic Offline/Cached Maps For Android



Application Name: MultiMap

Description: Online map display with GPS tracking; caching of online data for offline use.

Publisher’s website: RadonSoft

Cost: Free; 2 Euro Pro version adds search, messaging and position sharing.

Version/date reviewed: v.2.1  /  9-1-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.1

multimap_qr

Android market link (mobile apps)
Android Market (browser)


MultiMap is a basic map viewing application, with the ability to both load map views directly on-the-fly if you have a data connection (WiFi or 3G), and to download map data to cache memory on your unit, so that you can use the map data even if you have no data connection. Current map types supported are:

 

  • Google Maps (Standard (roads only), Satellite, Hybrid, Terrain)
  • OpenStreetMap
  • OpenStreetMap OSMA
  • OpenCycleMap
  • OpenPisteMap (enhanced coverage of skiing areas)
  • Public Transport DE (German public transport)
  • OpenSeaMap
  • OpenOM Street
  • OpenOM Pseud

Select the map type with Menu => Map Mode. The OpenStreetMap/OM maps use similar data, but there are differences in the types of data shown and the map styling. For example, OpenCycleMap show contour lines, OpenPisteMap shows ski trails if you’re in a ski area, and OpenOM Street/Pseud has no labels. Here are shots for my neighborhood (Figure 1):

OSM OpenStreetMap / OpenSeaMap OSMA
OSMA
cycle
Cycle/Piste
OpenOMStreet
OpenOM Street / Pseud

Controls are straightforward – touch and drag for scrolling,and three options for zooming:

  • Double-tap to zoom in
  • Tap once on the screen, and zoom buttons will show up at the bottom of the screen
  • Standard two-finger pinch/spread-to-zoom if your hardware supports it

If you have it set (Menu => Settings), your current position will show up as a blue dot; you also have the option to have the display show you in the center of the screen when your position updates. If you’re scrolling the map to a different location, you should turn this off, as the program has a tendecny to zip the display right back to your current location. After zooming with a double-tap or finger pinch, I’ve noticed that the current position indicator can be in the wrong spot; zooming in/out with the zoom buttons usually resolves that problem.

Map caching takes place automatically for map tiles displayed when you’re using the app in online mode, but only map tiles at the current zoom level will be saved. If you have cached map data for your current position, MultiMap should use this first, even if you  have an online connection.

selectarea

Figure 2: If you want to cache map tiles with multiple zoom levels for use when you’re offline, or to reduce cellular data use, MultiMap makes it easy. Select the map type you want to use (Google Sat for this example). Scroll to the area you’re interested in, preferably in low-zoom mode to see the largest area possible. Choose Menu => Cache Data, select the area you want to cache by touching and dragging, then press the back key

resolution

Figure 3: MultiMap will come up with resolution options for the map you’ve chosen. Whatever resolution you do choose, MultiMap appears to download tiles for that resolution and all lower-resolution tiles as well. So if I chose “3 meter”, it appears to download “3 meter”, “5 meter”, “10 meter” etc., all the way down to “60 meter”. The higher the resolution, the more tiles will be required, and the longer it will take. For road maps, “3 meter” or even “5 meter” should be more than fine; for satellite imagery, choose the lowest resolution you can live with. And I’d recommend you do all this caching when you’re connected via high-speed WiFi, as this can take forever with 3G, and burn up a lot of your data quota.

There’s no question that the OpenStreetMap data is fully legal to use this way. For the Google data, I’m not as sure, but I think it is. The Google Maps Terms Of Service says that caching data is fine as long as the cached data is only used in a manner similar to how it’s used uncached. I would interpret MultiMap’s use of the data as falling under this limitation, so I think it’s OK. Certainly Google hasn’t pulled this app (and other similar caching ones) off the app market for TOS violations. If there’s anyone with an alternative view, freel free to leave it in the comments.

cache

Figure 4: After you use the program for a while, cached data is likely to accumulate. The program lets you clear out the cache, either completely, by data type, or by the date it was cached.

Other Issues:

  • Program can sometimes misplace your current position after a zoom with finger-pinch or double-tap; using the zoom buttons will usually fix this issue.
  • Program sometimes gets hung up and shows a blank map even if it’s online or has cached data; you’ll have to exit/restart to see the map data.

Final thoughts:

If you’re looking for lots of extra features, and a wider variety of map types, this isn’t the program for you – it has a pretty basic feature set. But what it does, it does well, and it’s incredibly easy to learn and use. Recommended.


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2 Responses to “MultiMap: Online And Basic Offline/Cached Maps For Android”


  1. 1 Hannes
  2. 2 Goya

    Great recommendation, a real bless for those working abroad and wanting to avoid expensive roaming costs.

    PS: this blog is a rising star in GIS-related blogs!