Best App for Offline Maps
Pick a place: When you’re online, OffMaps works just like the familiar Maps app, grabbing maps from the Internet as you move about. Taking the app offline, however, takes more planning: You have to download your maps while still online. Tap the Download tab and pinch to highlight the part of the world to store. Here, the entire city of Paris is marked for download. Once done, you can roam your Paris map just as you would online.
It's a big world: OffMaps is well suited to grabbing maps for individual cities or relatively compact areas, but even there, the downloads can be large. Maps consist of several “zoom levels,” and the most detailed levels can be quite large. It’s a 135MB download to grab all zoom levels for the entire city of Paris, for example. If you don’t have space to spare, OffMaps lets you manage this by choosing how many zoom levels to download.
Online search: While online (and only online), OffMaps lets you search for points of interest like hotels, restaurants, and attractions, as well as cities, streets, and Wikipedia articles, shown here. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t yet support searching for specific street numbers, only street names, a frustrating vagueness that makes it tough to find a specific address and limits the usefulness of the app’s online route directions.
Offline bookmarks: Save individual search results as bookmarks to include them as pins on your offline maps. The Bookmarks screen lets you choose which locations you want to show. OffMaps stows the text of bookmarked Wikipedia articles for offline reading, and you can also save route directions for future reference. Create custom bookmarks by tapping and holding any point on the map.
Local attractions: Building a good collection of bookmarks lets you create a kind of custom guidebook. But even if you don’t do that, OffMaps comes with lots of local info already built in, including subway and bus stops, restaurants, ATMs, pharmacies, monuments, and more. This map data comes from OpenStreetMaps, a Wikipedia-like project for mapping the world; as you’d expect, data is richest where contributors are most active.
The built-in Maps app is swell until you travel abroad or otherwise roam beyond a network connection. In that case, you're unceremoniously dumped into uncharted (or at least undownloadable) territory. OffMaps saves you from being marooned by grabbing maps ahead of time. After loading a map, you can use it offline, and since the iPhone's GPS features work just fine without a network, you've got a full working map again.
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