Off-Line Navigation with Apps

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Apple CarPlay is a great feature and works wonderfully well with apps like Apple Maps unless you wander out of cell coverage as we did on our recent Big Bend trip.   No Internet access meant we went off-line and off the grid.

Google maps has a feature for downloading areas to use in off-line navigation.  This application model works well for smallish map areas and infrequent predictable lapses in cell coverage.

Alaska Highway travelers experience long stretches between cell signals causing some big problems:

  • You can’t load an entire state/province
  • The maps disappear from your phone in 30 days
  • You have to chose (and stick to) a route in advance

In the following example, I’m trying to load the map for Texas following Google’s instructions for downloading areas to use in off-line navigation.

Search for Texas and touch and tap Texas in the search results.

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Tap Download.

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The following image shows the map size limitation.  The area not in gray is the area to be downloaded and is not the behavior I was hoping for.

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I’m not sure how Google’s application determines what Texas means but it doesn’t match what I expected.  Google’s approach does not meet my travel needs.

I need a mapping solution that

  • Allows me to download maps for all of North America in a straightforward way
  • Maps can be updated when I’m ready to update them
  • Maps never timeout or disappear no matter how long they sit on my phone or tablet
  • Provides maps and navigation when I’m off-line
  • Has decent point-of-interest (POI) databases

Galileo Offline Maps is the off-line map application I use.

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The default landing screen for Galileo is the last map displayed.

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Tapping the gun site symbol on the lower left hand side of the above screen centers the map on the current location as determined by the phone’s built in location service.

However, our first task will be to download vector maps of the US and Canada.  Since I’ve downloaded these maps before, we will just update the maps instead.   To download maps touch the gear icon on the lower  right hand corner of the display.

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Under Vector Maps, touch Download Maps.

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In this example I’m going to chose United States of America.

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Being lazy and in somewhat of a hurry, I’m going to select Update All found toward the top on the right hand side.

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Eventually, all of the maps are updated as shown above.  If we keep hitting the Back button at the top left, we can get back to the map screen.  On the map screen we will find and touch the magnifying glass icon to initiate a search.  We are going to search for Great Falls, MT.  The results will look like the results below.

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Touching Great Falls, MT, USA will bring up a small map of Great Falls.

To get directions from where I am now to Great Falls, I need to to find the route icon on the lower left portion of the screen.  The route icon looks like an ‘S’.

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Finally, we get the route.

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Hitting the blue Play button on the lower right hand side of the screen activates the route.   On the screen below, we are on our way to Great Falls!

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One additional thing to pay attention to is the Network Mode in settings.  Setting Network Mode to “Offline allows to use the app completely offline and not to worry about roaming charges. Even if you have full internet connection, the app will act like it is ‘off’.”  See the Galileo Manual for more details.  Offline is the setting to use when traveling in areas without adequate mobile phone coverage.

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