The final part of my review of the Locus map app for Android; here are links to Part I: Interface, and Part II: Maps.
The first thing you need to know about waypoints in Locus is that the program insists you assign them into named Categories; especially noticeable the first time you try to create one. I resented this initially, but have since decided that requiring this kind of categorization/organization is a really good idea. Waypoints can be added using the Points manager, normally accessible in the right toolbar.
After choosing a Category, you get the waypoint list for that category, along with additional options at the bottom. From left to right, they are:
- “+” – Create a new waypoint. You’ll be given the choice of your current location, the current map center, an address, coordinates, or (if you have the optional Locus Contacts free plugin), one of the contacts in your address book. Tip: If you want to use map center, you should turn off the “center map on GPS location” button (left button on bottom toolbar), otherwise the map can pop back to your current location. Then scroll to the location you want to place the waypoint, and bring up the Points manager.
- Check mark – Selects/deselects all waypoints. Checked waypoints are visible on the map, unchecked waypoints aren’t. You can also turn on/off individual waypoint display by tapping directly on the checkbox.
- Arrowed circle – Refreshes the list
- Boxes with down arrow – Sorts the waypoint list by name or distance from your current location
- “Grouped” boxes – Lets you filter waypoints by icon
- Trash can – Deletes selected waypoints
Tapping on a waypoint brings up more options:
- Plot it on a map
- Navigate to it
- Edit/delete it
- Send it to a navigation app (like Google’s Navigation); bring up the Google Street View if available; share it with compatible app; load it into either Locus’s built-in compass, or a compatible third-party app like GPS Status.
When you add a waypoint with the “+” control, you’re only given the option to name it (default is coordinates). But once recorded, you can go back and assign additional info to the waypoint, including standard stuff like a description and custom icon; plus, non-standard stuff like taking a photo at that location and assigning it to the waypoint, or reverse-geocoding the nearest address based on the waypoint’s coordinates. Not sure how well the Photo feature works – on at least one occasion, a photo seemed to become “disassociated” with its waypoint (may have just been a random glitch). Reverse geocoding, on the other hand, worked perfectly, though this will require an active data connection. You’ll get the same screen when you edit an existing waypoint.
There’s a reasonably healthy default choice of icon graphics, but the app author describes a simple process by which you can use your own icon graphics for waypoints.
Finally, the author has recently added an augmented reality (AR) plugin that will superimpose a waypoints name/icon and “radar screen” on your Android unit’s camera view. My screenshot utility doesn’t capture the camera view, but just imagine a real-world view substituted for the white above. The radar screen shows the waypoint, but it’s so small and indistinct that it’s difficult to pick out. The Free version limits you to one minute of AR view; the $5.50 Pro version makes this unlimited.
For tracks, you have two options: either record your current movements as a track, or draw a track on the map screen. Both options are accessible from the right toolbar. If you choose to record your movements as a track, you’ll get a new toolbar at the bottom that lets you Start/Pause/Stop track recording …
or pull up an info window with current track statistics.
By default, tracks are saved with the current date and time, and there’s no way to change that immediately. However, if you go to the Data manager above (accessible from the top toolbar), you’ll be given the option to manage/edit your tracks. This Data manager also lets you create/edit/delete categories, gives you direct access to the Point manager for handling waypoints, and lets you Import/Export data in GPX or KML format. If you choose Tracks …
You’ll get a list of all the tracks stored in the app. Unlike waypoints, tracks aren’t assigned to a mandatory user-definable category, but are instead assigned a Locus-specific category that you can change. The controls at the bottom are the same as for waypoints, except for the missing “Add” option, not relevant here. Checking/unchecking a track determines whether it’s visible or not on the map display. Tapping on a track name brings up options to show a stats screen, export it directly as a GPX or KML file, show it on the map, delete it, or edit it …
One of the biggest advantages of Locus over OruxMaps is the customizability of waypoint icons and track colors. OruxMaps only has one waypoint icon, and while you can adjust the overall track color and width, you can’t specify different colors/widths for different tracks. Locus starts out with more waypoint icons, lets you add your own …
and also lets you specify different colors and widths for individual tracks, making them easier to identify on-screen.
The right toolbar also has an “Add track” button that lets you draw a track on screen, and then save it. Pressing this button brings up another toolbar to help with this function. The “+” button adds a track point at the current center map position, and the “-“ button removes the last track point added; the green check finishes the process and saves the track, while the red “x” aborts it. The center button, with the “right turn” logo, is interesting. If you specify two points on a track, the start and stop, then press this button …
… you’ll be given the option to automatically generate a routed track between those two points, for various forms of transportation. When you choose the desired transport …
You’ll see the route plotted, along with the direct-line connecting the start/stop; saving the track will only save the routed track, not the direct line.
Other issues: Apart from an occasionally-stubborn Bluetooth GPS connection, which could be resolved (see Part I), didn’t have any serious problems with the app.
Final thoughts: There’s no question that Locus is an outstanding Android map app. It works as it should, the interface is clean, map selection is good, and feature set is solid. In some aspects, like track/waypoint management, it’s vastly superior to OruxMaps; on the flip side, OruxMaps has a more customizable interface, and it’s easier to add additional online map sources to it. The one feature where OruxMaps is clearly superior to Locus is in your ability to add your own digital map imagery for viewing in OruxMaps; this is a feature I need all the time, and one not currently well-supported in Locus. Fortunately, with free/cheap versions of both apps, I don’t have to choose; I can see myself switching back and forth between the different apps on a regular basis, depending on what my current needs are. You’d be crazy not to have at least the free version of Locus on your Android unit (OruxMaps, too), and probably ultimately coughing up the $5.50 Pro registration fee to get rid of the ads.