Thursday, September 13, 2012

Android GPS Apps - Part 3

Mapping, tracking & export features are important for any smartphone GPS app.  Waypoint management should be easy with a quick 'create' button handy the main screen.  In Part 3 of the Android GPS app test, I spent time with Locus Pro, OruxMaps and BackCountry Navigator.
My device was the Google Nexus 7 (4.1) with a wifi connection to a 3G personal wifi device.  All applications relied on a data connection to download the maps.  I did not test the offline capability.
Read the summary of the apps and the first test.

All the apps offered a range of online maps which included the standards like Google, Bing and OSM.
OruxMaps has a nifty feature allowing you to quickly switch maps between an online map (like OSM) and an offline map you copied to your device.
BackCountry Navigator has a selection of US ArcGIS maps which, from the various forums I read, seems to be the preferred mapping for topographical maps in the USA.
Locus Pro had online mapping with MapQuest, OSM, ChartBundle and a few European maps.  

I had a bit of a rough start to testing the Locus Pro application - I had downloaded the free version which did not allow tracking. I had to purchase the Pro ($7.70) version to enable it, which, in my mind, I don't mind paying for an application but I could not get the tracking to work.  In the end, all I ended up with was a straight line between the start and finish points.  See the image export below.
BackCountry Navigator was equally unfriendly especially after the very easy OruxMaps tracking capability.
OruxMaps is a clear winner when it came to the ease of setting up a track and track management.
Locus Pro - Tracking Export
OruxMaps has 12 export features associated with a track.  Emailing and uploading are the two primary features with each option providing alternatives i.e Email track as GPX, KMZ or KML format.
Locus Pro had a single export feature with multiple options for GPS, KML and specific website formats like GPSies.  A neat feature of the app is the ability to export your current map view as a screen shot.  This is a neat feature as it allows you to email the track or waypoints as an image file.
BackCountry Navigator has a Share option (still in Beta) to upload to the internet or create a GPX or KML file.

Locus Pro and BackCountry Navigator were overshadowed by the ease of use with the OruxMaps which meant that during the test, all I wanted to do was go back to OruxMaps and test more features.  All the apps have a Pro version ranging in cost from $2.50 to $9.99. 

The standoff...
In the next blog, I standoff between Maverick, Androzic and OruxMaps...  be sure to check back.


  1. Hmm - don't agree. Locus is available in a free and a pro version and has nore useful features useful for overlanding than most other apps. Of course one always tends to stick to familiar things (like you seem to do with OruxMaps and I with Locus Pro...), but when you write a review, you should let loose and give equal chances, equal time and opportunity to the apps. I admit, Locus Pro might be better suited for the advanced user like people who use TTQV on their PC, while OruxMaps might be better for people who don't want to get too deep into it.

    1. Hi Mike - thanks for the comments. I took your advice and have started to explore Locus Pro. It has many hidden features that I am now finding useful - like the ability to buy additional vector maps (so I don't need to spend hours creating my own) and to customize the home screen.

  2. First I love BC Navigator. I have been using it for a while. But, I am always looking for other (even better perhaps) options to add to my arsenal. It would be great if this write up actually had some information in it though. It is clear you prefer the OruxMaps...

    Maybe I will take a look at it....

    1. Hi Jonathan - thanks for your comments. I might do a detailed review of the apps at a later stage. I am leaving for a micro overland adventure in a few days time and needed a useful app on my first Android device hence the very low level of information.
      As per Mike's comments, I am persevering with Locus Pro so might give BCN another go.


Comments always welcome...