Maps on your iPhone?
The fine folks over at Avenza have made an iPhone app that will allow you to not only view high resolution maps on your phone but will also take advantage of your phone’s location sensors to show you exactly where you are on those maps. We have added our maps to their online store with several for free so you can give them a try.
They do have a beta version for Android available here.
How does it work?
- Go to the app store and search for either “PDF Maps” or “Avenza PDF Maps.” Then download the free app.
- When you start the app, after an introduction, you will find yourself at the Store screen. From here tap “Find Maps” to see maps close to you or to enter a key word search. You can also browse the categories.
- If you tap “Find Maps” you will come to this screen where the app will show you any maps close to you with those little blue pins. Just tap one to learn all about it and if you like, buy it and/or download it. You can also search for maps using the text bar. We recommend searching for Just Trails or one of our specific trails, you know, just to see what comes up.
- At any time tap on “Maps” in the bottom left corner of the screen to go to the Maps screen and manage the maps already installed on your phone. Just tap on a map to view it. The app will tell you if you are on the map or how far away from each map you happen to be. (Has anyone ever typed the word map more frequently in two sentences?)
- If you tap the + in the top right corner of the Maps screen you will come to the Import Map screen. This is where you can manually add any GeoPDF files that you found or purchased some where other than the Store inside the app. We have found that drop box is the easiest way to add GeoPDF files to the app. Drop box is free if you don’t have an account with them already and all you have to do is tap the “From Dropbox” button to set it up.
Things to keep in mind:
- This won’t keep you from getting lost: This is a really cool app that can certainly help you navigate and provide you with high resolution maps that you don’t have to fold and unfold but you still have to know how to get around in the woods.
- Understand how it “knows” where you are: The app uses the location sensors on your phone which determine where you are based on wifi, cell, and gps signals. The most important of those when you are in the woods is the gps. Unfortunately this is also the least capable of the sensors and is not even close to a stand alone GPS unit. When you are locked on to satellites the phone will determine your location good enough for hiking on a trail but the phone may struggle to lock on satellites especially when it doesn’t have help from a cell signal.
- Your cell phone will not continuously track satellites: The phone will stop actively tracking the satellites as soon as you go to another app or let the screen go black. Your phone does this to save the battery since tracking satellites can be very demanding.
- Some of the files can be big: Just keep track of how much memory is available on your phone. Don’t be afraid to delete a map from your phone if you aren’t using it. Even the ones you bought can be added again whenever you need them.
- It’s not all bad: In fact, this app is really cool (at least for map nerds like us). Our goal isn’t to scare you off but rather to make sure you are well informed. And even if the location sensors aren’t working, where else are you going to find awesome high resolution trail maps that you can view on your phone!
- Have a plan to keep your phone dry: With all this talk about using your phone in the woods, have a plan to keep it out of the weather. That can be waterproof phone case or a waterproof bag or both.